Is my baby High Needs?

fussy crying baby
Sometimes it seems as if nothing I do helps. He cries and cries, the volume approaches a scream at times. His little face turns red and his body gets stiff. He kicks and squirms, and there are tears! Real baby tears. A crying baby makes my heart hurt. I try nursing to comfort him, but he just jerks and pulls away. Holding him and talking to him doesn't help either. There are a few things thankfully that do help, such as walking around with him....ok perhaps the word few was overestimating things. Walking is just about the only thing that works without fail. Even wearing him in my baby carrier only works if I'm up moving around.

Without fail, every night when my husband and I try to sit down for dinner, the screaming starts. I'm not a superwoman, sometimes I feel truly ready to just give up and put him in his swing and let him cry it out. I just can't do it, though. I can't sit and listen to him need me and not go and at least try to comfort him however futile my efforts may be. Last night my dear husband made us a steak and sauted mushrooms dinner. Halfway through I just got up and held the baby and nursed standing while Brad finished his dinner. Then I sat down and ate my cold steak :( I know I feel kind of sorry for myself as this happens a lot, but I'm the mother now and I guess sacrifices must be made.

It's been particularly bad the last few days and I've almost felt at my wits end. I've yelled at my husband which helps nothing. I know that, but I get so frazzled by the baby's constant crying. I went looking for answers on the internet the other day and found that 3 months of age is prime time for a growth spurt. I broke down in tears after reading that, thankful that this may end in a few days and I'll have a happy baby. The thing is, sometimes he is happy! The few times a day he's happy he knows how to show it. He smiles up a storm, coos and lets out huge giggles. I love these moments and I hope for more of them.

I also found some really helpful information on high needs babies by Dr. Robert Sears. The Sears' also have a book titled, The Fussy Baby Book : Parenting Your High-Need Child From Birth to Age Five. I'm thinking of buying it because it seems as if this article was written specifically for Braden. Some of the key points that really struck a cord with me were:

High need infants tend to be full-time tummy-thumpers and bladder- kickers, as if telling the world even before they're born that they need more space.
Boy was he ever! Man I thought he was gonna kick right out of my ribcage some nights. Not fun, ha! I had no idea what was coming.
They stiffen their limbs and arch their backs when you try to hold them, and they are frequently seen doing back dives in your lap, turning breastfeeding into a gymnastic event.
This drives me up the wall sometimes. I thought that nursing was supposed to be a peaceful loving thing, but sometimes Braden fights it! He squirms, arches his back, tries to kick himself off my lap. I feel bad "forcing" him to nurse but he needs to eat and he needs to sleep and this is really my only way of helping him do those things.
Woe to the parent who offers baby the rattle when he is expecting a breast. He will let you know quickly and loudly that you've misread his cues.
Tell me about it. Heaven forbid I try to change his diaper after a nap when he wants to eat...or try to hold him in my lap when he wants attention and to play. Sometimes just figuring out exactly what it is he wants is a trial. Often, I don't get it right and I'm left with my crying, red, upset baby.
After all, isn't a contented baby the hallmark of effective mothering? Wrong! There will be days when you nurse, rock, walk, drive, wear, and try every comforting technique known to man or woman, and nothing will work. Don't take this as a sign of failure. You do the best you can, and the rest is up to the baby. You have not failed as a mother even if your baby is miserable much of the time.
Thank God! Honestly, yes I was feeling like a little bit of a failure. I co-sleep with him, I breastfeed frequently and on demand, I play with him as much as I can and he still has periods of uncontrolled screaming. Just about the only thing in this article that doesn't really fit my baby is the poor sleep habits. He sleeps great which is a small miracle I give credit to co-sleeping for. I am so glad that I am not alone. Thank you Dr. Sears!

Here is something very similar to a comment my husband made a little while back. He said that it was as if Braden only had "off" and "on". There is either super happy smiling giggling baby, or super upset crying, kicking baby.
When he is happy, he is the happiest baby around, but when he is angry he is the worst baby around. He is still that way, sunshine and smiles, anger and daggers. He has no middle emotion.
So here I am, with my potentially "high needs" baby. I'm doing the best I can trying to parent him, to make him understand that I will be there for him when he is upset and I will always pick him up when he falls. I truly believe that being an attachment parenting mommy for this little guy is going to help be his safety net. He will be able to grow and be an outgoing, driven happy little guy because he knows his mommy loves him.

Do you have a high needs baby?
What tips and tricks have you learned?
What are they like as older children?

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Ms. Mandi said...

Miranda, were you spying on me when you wrote this? I'm hoping the growth spurt, becuase he's been a real stinker these past few days. No cure, if i find one I'll let you know.

WAHM Tara said...

I feel for you mommy! My daughters were high need babies! Oh boy, some days I did not think I was going to make it through!

I just found your blog a few days ago and have not had time to catch up on everything I have missed.

So I am wondering if you have a baby sling? When my girls got to screaming I would pop them in the sling and they were content. I mean I wore those girls when I washed dishes, mopped floors, ect. That was the only thing that made them happy.

Now, with my 6 month old son, when he gets in those moods I run us a bath and I get in the bath with him and nurse him.

It works great with him! My hubby always laughs and says he sure never thought he would see his wife breastfeeding in the bath tub. But it works and it makes our son happy so I do it.

knitsational said...

My Zoe is definately high needs! And like Tara I wore her pretty much 24/7. But I guess the thing that helps me the most is just to remember to surrender to her needs. She will only be this small and so physically needful for so long and then we'll have a whole new set of trials with her! But for now I just let her be needy and not try to force her to be any other way, remembering that if I give her what she needs now and let her "cling" now, she will be impowered to be a strong individual when she is ready.

Petula Wright said...

I had to chuckled and cringe when I read this. My second child -- and my only son -- was a definite high needs child. He still is actually. He kicked on spot while he was inside, he kept trying to come early and eventually arrived 6 weeks early and he screamed all the time!

When I had the third one 15 months later (what was I thinking!?) she would peacefully suck her fingers while I tended to him.

High need babies tend to stay high need, but they do get a little better with maturity. He's 4 now and a little more manageable, but I guess having three sisters he has to make his presence known somehow! :)

~Miranda~ said...

Mandi -love right back atcha

Tara- yes I have a K'tan and it is invaluable for the times I need to run errands, do housework, or go out to eat. But when we're just lazing around the house being in the carrier doesn't work unless I'm up walking around. Kinda defeats the purpose cuz I still can't sit and eat or surf the net lol. We take baths together now and you're right! he loves that. :)

Julie- I hear ya! that's exactly what I'm trying for.

Petula- ha! a peaceful baby, how nice would that be...next time...next time...

Thanks for all your support guys I really appreciate it!

Mom said...

I have a high needs baby. She's almost 2 now and still very needy. She has a hair-pin trigger that causes major tantrums. That swing you mentioned, it may just be your best friend. Oh, and a radio with some soft music...