January 20, 2012

A High Needs Baby

I can't really decide how I want to do this post. I almost feel like I'm standing up and saying, "Hello, my name is Callie, and I have a high needs baby." It's not really a confession because I haven't done anything wrong. However, whenever babies are clingy, attached at the hip, or overall brats, most people have their own opinion, usually that its mommy and daddy's faults.

I've known Parker is a high needs baby for awhile. He needs lots of physical touch, lots of attention, and he is very intense. The moment he was born, he came out SCREAMING and did not stop until he got to nurse. Not much has changed in the last (almost) 19 months.

Other high needs qualities that Parker possesses include that he can be draining, he has always been a demanding nurser, "schedule" is not in his vocabulary, he is demanding, he awakens frequently (this is what spurred this post), he is often unsatisfied, he is rather unpredictable, he is VERY sensitive, he is not a self soother, as a baby he could NEVER be put down, and he has serious separation anxiety.

Let me first say that I am not complaining about all of these qualities. I just recently compiled a list from Dr. Sear's website and wanted to include them in this post for my records. I have known many of these things for a long time. Parker and I are together all day, and I am very accustomed to his behavior. I try to correct him when he is naughty, but I don't fault him for being sensitive, afraid to leave me, or demanding of my attention. Also, Parker is EXTREMELY happy when he IS happy, he is a total goofball and always has us laughing, and he is a VERY smart little boy.

The absolute hardest thing about having a high needs baby is the sleeping. I'm sure I've made 10 posts on this blog about Parker sleeping, I post it on my parenting message boards asking questions. It's been 19 months of lack of sleep, and honestly, it is the most draining experience.

I recently read on Dr. Sear's website about just why a high needs baby has difficulty sleeping. The description fit Parker to a tee. Basically, he is extremely used to having physical contact during the night and that is why he continually wakes up.

Last night I decided that I was ready, and I wasn't going to wimp out or give in. Parker went down at his usual bedtime around 8 pm. He did better than usual, skipping the midnight crying and waited until 330 am. I got up and picked him up and cuddled him for a second. I nursed him on both sides for a minute or less. When I put him back in his crib, he cried for a minute at the lack of booby time, but then dozed off.

Around 415, he began crying again. I hadn't even fallen back asleep yet. This time, I went in and held him and cuddled him but did not nurse him. I put him back down, and he cried for several minutes. He then went back to sleep until 615.

Tonight, I plan to only offer him on side for a minute and then continue with the cuddling. My main goal is to make these nightly meetings less exciting. If there's no booby, then why wake up, right? When I don't offer him any milk, I'll be sure to bring in a sippy cup of water in case he really is thirsty.

I've been dealing with this forever. I know he's not in pain, I know he's not sick. I think we ALL really need some good rest.

Being a mommy is so hard sometimes, but I have to stick with my gut decision...


  1. Oh my gosh, James was so high needs too. At one point, he wanted to nurse 5-6 times a night and always had to be held. He is a very CHILL toddler though. I think that by just loving on and giving them the type of physical touch these types of baby's crave gives them the security to grow and be independent, well behaved children. Hang in there mama, you are doing amazing!

  2. Here is my post on it when he was 5 months old and lots of good comments: http://www.ourgrowinggarden.com/2010/12/sleep-training.html

    What eventually worked was that we just did graduated extinction. I didn't like it, but I was so exhausted that I was hallucinating during the day and that is just plain dangerous. After a few nights of letting him cry (I went in if he was doing the freak out cry) he started learning how to soothe himself back to sleep. I continued to nurse during the night but more like once or twice and not five or six times.

  3. Thanks for the advice!!! I am about to update... it is better, but not ideal. I NEVER thought I would be posting this with a 19 month old. haha

  4. *hugs* how is everything going? This must be so hard. I remember when Payton was 18 months old that is when I "had it" with the night nursing and waking every 2 hours too...and as an AP mom it was hard to admit that I didn't "enjoy" it at night anymore. I knew that is when it was time for us to stop. Kevin really helped me a lot and "took over" and went to him and once he realized Kevin didn't have boobies he stopped waking in 2 nights. I hope you get some much needed sleep before #3 gets here and you have to start over LOL