High Needs Babies
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High Needs Babies
I'm needing advice about our 3 1/2 month old. She is the
classic high-need baby--lots of crying as a newborn, prefers to
be held/carried, naps on people and will nap alone for only
very short periods--very curious, bright and developing early.
She was sleeping really well for a while (6-8 hours each
night), and then teething started and we're back to every 1.5
or 2 hours. I'm about to lose my mind from lack of sleep, and
I've started back to work 3 days each week, so it's getting
unbearable. we're doing the homeopathic teething gel/tablets
and tylenol when it gets really bad for her. she's always in a
sling/baby bjorn or moby wrap.
She is an all-around intense little girl--screams in the car
seat (rarely falls asleep), fights naps and bedtime, needs a
lot of movement and activity, and sometimes has trouble going
to other people.
I'd love to hear from other parents of spirited babies--how did
you cope and how long did this tough part last?
In my somewhat limited experience (mom of 2, and social group of
parents with young ones), I have yet to come across a 3-month old that
ISN'T high-need/spirited - the change in sleeping patterns, the need to
be held, the increase in crying for different hard-to-figure-out needs,
teething, growth spurts, increase in awareness of surroundings,
sensitive to differences - it's all part of being that age and
In other words, most parents have been through this, and, believe it or
not, it'll pass.
Not a LOT of comfort when you're exhausted and in the middle of it.
hopefully a BIT of comfort in knowing that the best you can do is 1)
to rituals and routines, or start them 2) Go through ''check-list'' to
baby really is okay (fed? changed? tired? in pain? temperature?
uncomfortable?) 3) Enlist help! Tag team more with your partner. Get
someone to look after baby even for an hour to give you a chance to
NAP (not tackle chores). 4) It's not too late to join a mom/baby group
just drop in on one at Alta Bates or Kaiser.
Been there too
We had the same issues with our son until we sleep trained
him...but it started again when we added dairy into his diet.
He was allergic! is your daughter allergic to any foods?
We're experiencing similar issues now with our six month old
baby. He, too is curious, bright, and is developing very early
crawling and pulling himself up already. He's not a great
sleeper but we learned a great way of swaddling that was
especially helpful when he wanted on! ly to be held for naps. I
wish we had learned this trick when my older son was going
through the same problem! It's difficult to describe the
wrapping method without a demonstration but the important part
is using a large blanket--maybe 2'x2'. You can probably lay
the baby in one corner of a diamond shape but we do it the
other way, with his head just above one of the long sides.
Don't be afraid of wrapping tightly, that's what makes babies
feel secure. When you're done wrapping, make sure the end is
under the baby so the blanket doesn't come loose. When my baby
is wrapped, I either nurse him or give him his pacifier and he
falls asleep quickly. I hope this works for you, it was a
sleep-saver for us!
Best of luck (and sleep) to you all!
Hi. I don't have much advice, because I have a 3 1/2 month old who
like yours. Cr! ies a lot, even when held, stubbornly fights sleep,
hates the car seat,
etc. After developing a good night sleep pattern she's recently been
waking up a lot more. So, I don't have much advice for you but I
thought you might
feel better knowing that others are in the same boat. I think it's
harder for me now
than when she was first born because I had it in my mind that at 3
months she'd be
''easier''. I'm finding that's not the case, her needs are different,
but she's still not
easy. Anyway, I'm looking forward to finding out what advice others
have to give.
I'm sorry to hear about your lack of sleep and frustration. My daughter
almost 4 years old and it has taken us a long time to get through the
needy years. She and I have an incredible bond, but not without
difficulty. I still
don't get a good nights sleep! . I'm beginning to wonder if I ever will.
with all of my daughter's neediness, my lack of sleep, and the other
of motherhood, I am quite pleased to say that I have a wonderfully
independant, strong-willed, creative and intellegent child. Her
''spirited'' self is
truley gifted and I feel quite blessed to have such a bond with her and
her in my life. It is never easy for a mother
to go back to work soon after her baby is born. It is just not a
transition to make. Most women would rather take 6 months to a year off
with their baby. It is natural and instinctive to want that. However
are confronted with having to go against their natural desires in favor
back to work. I don't know of a single woman, personally, who had an
with that. Trying to balance these two opposing
is very challenging and stres! sful. Here are my suggestions:
Try to establish a pleasant, peaceful routine for your baby. One that
for both of you. A baby will feel more at ease and secure knowing what
expect each day. Especially when they get tired and hungry. Having too
new things, or unpredictable things happen through out the day or week
overstimulating and exhausting for some babies, especially the
Pace yourself gently. As hard as it is, try to create some down time or
time for yourself and for your baby. Use the opportunity when you are
work to create a sense and peace and tranquility in the home. When you
with your baby, make it quality time. Try not to accomplish too much in
areas of your life. You are doing a lot already. Keep your goals simple
realistic. Get as much help as you can from your spouse, family or
care of yourself where ever and when ever! you can. Every bit counts no
how small it seems. Infants are very in tune with their mothers. They
when a mother is under stress. My daughter use to respond to any stress
home in very dramatic ways. It would always effect her sleep patterns
negative way and she would be very clingy during the day. When I was
focused and attentive, she was so much easier to deal with. Hope this
I hear how much work your baby is but I needed to keep checking
her age as you spoke about her. She is only 31/2 months old. I'm
a 2nd time mom and my impression is that most (lots) of infants
seem like ''high need'' infants- that's just the way most infants
are. As a 1st time mom I thought our now 5 year old was high
need also. Around 5 or 6 months when she could sit up and play a
little bit on her own my perception changed. Could be the s! ame
with your baby. My advice would be to surrender and accept her
neediness during the daylight hours and develop a plan to teach
her to sleep at night. We didn't with our daughter and she
didn't sleep thru the night until 18 mos. With our 9 month old
son we taught him to sleep thru the night at 3 months. With both
of us more rested, his daytime neediness does not seem so
Your message reminded me very much of my now 10 year old spirited
child as an infant. When my daughter was born, I was quite
unprepared for having such a high needs child; she never seemed
to stay still and screamed herself to sleep every night for
months. I can totally empathize with your situation! After 5
months, I went back to work full-time, and it was quite a relief,
although I was constantly tired. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an easy solution to the situation. The chances are that
your daughter will be like ours -- a ''spirited'' person. She has
calmed down quite a bit in the last two years, but is currently
finding it difficult to go to sleep at night (at age 10) and so
is still driving us crazy with this issue! The good part is that
she is extremely bright, outgoing, and gets so much out of life.
I've since had two other children, who have quite different
personalities from my oldest.
My suggestion is to get as much help as you can - either
relatives or hire a regular baby sitter, even if it is so you can
take a nap. I have a friend who has a very high needs child and
this approach has saved her sanity. I also went to a class at
Bananas for parents of ''spirited'' children and I found the advice
they gave to be helpful. If you are a Kaiser member, they offer a
similar class. However, you may have to resign yourself to the
fact that your daughter will always be a handful.
I could easily have written your post, word for word, when our
daughter was your daughter's age. She is now almost 2, and even
though she has a reputation at her daycare for being ''extremely
anxious,'' she has mellowed out _a lot_. I can actually remember
whole stretches of months during which friends meeting her for
the first time had difficulty understanding how we could ever
have called her ''high strung.'' How did we cope? Just barely,
and any way we could. Every little battle eventually won, even
with lapses, counted a lot. And take heart, at 3.5 mos., we
definitely hadn't won a single battle yet, but they were just
around the corner.
The drop-dead-from-exhaustion lose-your-mind part lasted,
for us, until somewhere around 9-10 mos., I'd say we weren't
truly out of the woods until 1 yr.-15 mos., but there were
important bright spots earlier on. Some of these were: First
nap in the crib ever (and not while being worn walking,
outside, at a rapid clip, in the Baby Bjorn, or being held and
bounced, even at 3 am) came at around 5 mos. It took some
doing, and she is still a very difficult napper, but just to
get her in the crib made an enormous difference. First use of
stroller ever (would not consent to be put down, not even for a second) was a little later, at around 5.5 mos. These were both
huge. Not only from a logistical and physical point of view but
a psychological one, as you will probably understand. There's a
kind of chain reaction that hopefully you will be able to get
going, too. As she ''settled'' and as we experimented and
improved our techniques, she started to get better and longer
naps, and she was clearly better rested and much, much mellower
as a result.
And there's a spectrum of possibilities, in terms of what
you might want to try to push, and how much. (For all parents,
I am sure, but just how much you are willing to push, or feel
you can/cannot, clearly has to do with the baby's temperament.)
People insisted that we could get her to accept the stroller by
letting her cry in it, that their kid stopped crying and
learned to love it within 5 minutes or whatever. Of course,
when we tried this, at 3 mos., at ! 4 mos., it didn't work and
was hell. I am convinced that we could not have got her to go
in the stroller a day sooner than we actually did. Conversely,
we ''sleep-trained'' for night sleep (naps came much, much later,
in terms of her not needing our ''help''), guiltily and in a way
that felt absolutely horrible heading into it, at around 4.5
mos. I was on the academic job market, and we had such a huge
accumulated sleep debt that we were just hair-tearing desperate
and did it. Luckily for us, she was a comparatively easy case
there; we probably doubled the amount of sleep we were _all_
getting within a matter of a couple of weeks. I now feel that
the stroller was not worth pushing, that she simply had to be
ready; the night sleeping, on the other hand, I really wish we
had tried to push a bit sooner. It felt like it had to be
pushed, and I'm not sorry we did. I don't know where you stand
on letting her cry herself to sleep! (never easy and always
controversial), but we just found it was, for us, the only
thing that worked.
Another shred of hope: someone with a lot of baby wisdom,
an infant/toddler center director with a lifetime experience,
once told us that she thought that a lot of babies are getting
lousy naps these days because of the ''back-to-sleep'' campaign.
Her view was basically that, while the evidence is there that
back-sleeping prevents SIDS, it prevents sound sleeping for the
same reason that it prevents SIDS: we sleep more lightly on our
backs. She said she wouldn't be surprised if our daughter slept
longer and more deeply once she was sleeping on her tummy (old
enough to roll herself off it), and sure enough, she did. So
hopefully you have this coming; I know other parents who've had
a similar experience here.
As for teething, the bottom line for us was that teething
only stopped disrupting her sleep after she had all of her
Sorry to say the car never got better either (our daughter
did, and still does, exactly as you say; I can count on one
hand the number of times she has fallen asleep in a car seat).
As for the flipside of her intensity that you remark: that she
is ''very curious, bright and developing early,'' and that
she ''needs a lot of movement and activity''--these will be your
saving grace. This part of my message is definitely written
from the perspective of the 2-yr.-old's mom, but perhaps it
will offer you something almost as precious as sleep, if a bit
more abstract, to look forward to. As she gets older, you'll be
able to feel more and more how truly positive (on a good day, I
would be tempted to say inspiring) her intensity can be, both
in your interactions with her and in the larger social sphere.
I have been consistently amazed by how well people respond to a
demanding baby who is also bright, funny, engaging, inventive,
and inviting. Your daughter will just keep getting more
opportunities to be these things with each stage of
development. In a sense it stays ''tough,'' in that she will
likel! y always be more intense than other kids not only in her
demand for, but in her response to stimulation. (Renewed sense
of this for us now with toddlerhood.) But the reality is that
the intensity is much easier to cope with once you start
getting some sleep.
And you will. You'll push things, she'll push back, you'll get
perspective and then lose it, but it will come. Right now she
is the child who screams the loudest; for many more months, she
is the one who makes it hardest for you to get anything done,
and you will envy unto tears the parents of her easygoing
peers; but a year from now she is the one who is most effective
at getting the daycare teacher's attention, or who can get the
whole subway car laughing, or who tells the longest, most
complex, and detailed stories about her experiences, years
before her peers. She is still the most high-strung kid, but
also suddenly the most independent and resourceful. Although I was not feeling it at 3.5 mos., I sometimes feel her intensity
actually gives me, rather than saps, my energy.
mom of high-need infant lives to tell :)
I know what you are going through. My child was just the same,
and the first year with him was extremely difficult. Things
improved as he gained more mobility. For instance, once he
started crawling (at 7 and 1/2 months) he was a bit happier.
Once he started standing up on his own, he was so proud of
himself that he would scream with joy. And once he started
walking (thank goodness, early at 11 months)his general mood
improved dramatically. He will always be intense, and new
challenges pop up with every growth stage, but nothing compare
to the first year.
Things that helped me:
- get your daughter used very slowly to like the car (or at
least to not scream in the carseat). I did that by taking my son
to a park nearby (5 minutes drive) every day for a couple of
weeks. He screamed from the minute I put him in the carseat, but
he soon realized that it was a very short trip and that
something nice waited at the end. Therefore, he learned to sit
quietly for 5 minutes. After that, I started driving to a park
that is a bit further away (10 minutes or so); same thing
happened, after a while he developed a 10-minute-patient-and-
blissfully-silent carseating. I kept increasing gradually the
driving trips with nice destinations and tried to avoid any long
trips. He built his tolerance to the car accordingly, and now he
can go for about 45 minutes quite well (he is 2 1/2 years old).
Once you rdaughter can eat soft (non-chockable) finger food,
making the ride coincide with sna! ck time will be helpful.
-Try to build up, the same way, her ability to be on her own.
Very soon she will be able to grasp objects and will get more
entertained. The black and white mobile worked wonders for my
son, who could gaze at it for 10 minutes straight every single
time I put him under it. In retrospect, I regret that I got him
used to constant interaction with me, dad, grandma, etc. Perhaps
now he would be able to play independently more often and for
longer than 10 minutes if we had gently re-directed him that way
since he was a baby. A little moaning on the bouncy chair or
swing it's okay, there is no need to rush to her at the smallest
peep (like I did!). You don't need to let her scream, of course,
but create opportunities for her to start spending some time on
her bouncy chair, on tummy play, etc. Again, build up the time
very slowly, like with the car.
-A ride-on/walker toy was very helpul. My son had one since 9
months-old and gave his first steps with it. For an active child
like ours, anything that facilitates independent movement is
going to lift their mood.
-You need time to unplug in order to survice the first year with
a high-need/spirited baby. Get a baby sitter once a week, evenm
if it is for a couple of hours, and take a nap, go the the
hairdresser or get a pedicure. Do something that will relax you,
lift your mood and give you the energy to go back to your
daughter in a refreshed state.
If you need to talk more or feel isolated, feel free to e-mail
Good luck. It will get better!
Hi, you must be talking about my daughter (who is now 8 1/2
years old, and so happy & sweet!) Best things that worked for
1. Book by William Sears, something like: ''Understanding your
high-need infant & Young Child'' RUN to the bookstore and get
2. Baby Bjorn: wear it whenever possible, they especially like
to look out (the same direction you look.) when old enough...
(I think you said she's 9 months, that's old enough...)
3. Bring her in bed with you!!! You will get MORE sleep! And
she will be SOOO much happier. High-need babies are more AWARE
of everything and so they know they want to be near you,
hearing your heartbeat, feeling your skin...
4. Any chance you could wait a year or 2 to go back to work?
Maybe you coul! d look at ways to save/how you're saving anyway:
no day-care/babysitter to pay, no work clothes to buy, less gas
to pay for, more home-cooked meals, skip a vacation...
Like I said, she's more aware and also more sensitive (means
not only does she get her feelings hurt more, but she also
cares for others more-- this shows up later) She would love to
be with you as much as possible. -Heather
PS And yes, keep breast-feeding for at least a year, I
recommend 1 and a half or 2.
It sounds as if your baby is getting overstimulated. There is
a book called something like Healthy Sleep Habits.....by
Weissbluth. When babies are kept awake past their first signs
of sleepiness they get overtired and harder to put to sleep
because their adrenaline kicks in. Some babies are more
difficult to read than others, and their sleep signs are not so
obvious. If you see one ya! wn and she starts to look away,
start putting her to sleep.
At 3 1/2 months your baby might also benefit from some time on
the floor to hang out and get her bearings. I found that with
my first child, also very intense, that when I sat down on the
floor and put her on a blanket next to me that it calmed her
down. In the Baby Book by Sears I read a long time ago that
from pretty young it is good to put the baby down and let her
stretch out. It also gives you a chance to really observe and
see those signals of sleepiness.
Start putting your baby down in a comfortable, dark spot as
soon as she falls asleep instead of carrying her. Give her the
opportunity to take a longer nap when she does nap.
My first girl is very very active and intense and spirited and
it has come through in different ways as she grows. I believe
that getting enough sleep helps both of you cope better so that
you can really enjoy! your time with her, not to mention survive
your time at work.
The Baby Whisperer is another good read for some perspective
and some hints regardless of your baby's style.
mom of three good sleepers (most of the time)
I couldn't help thinking of my own experience when I read about
your high-need infant. My pediatrician told me my baby was high-
need. After 4 1/2 months and much research on my own, I finally
figured out that he had GERD (acid reflux). Go online and make
sure your infant doesn't exhibit any of the classic symptoms (my
cousin's baby, for example, had a terrible case even though she
rarely threw up). My baby changed from a grumpy, fussy, crier
into a sweet, smiling baby within hours of taking his first dose
I have a beautiful 4 month old baby boy. When he was younger I noticed he needed
to be held and on the move nearly all the time. I assumed this was part of his
''fourth trimester'' and would resolve after time. Well, he still needs to be held and
on the move all the time. I have a difficult time putting him down even for a few
minutes, and he is not entertained by a stroller, car seat, bouncy chair, mat, for
more than a few minutes before he begins to cry again. As I read up on him on dr.
sears web site he seems like what is called a ''high needs baby''. My day is pretty
much a long series of carrying him and nursing him in a sling while walking around
the house or town, and long unsuccessful attempts of trying to get him to nap on a
bed while swaddled. It would be one thing if I just had to hold him a lot while I did
stuff, but he gets angry if I'm standing still and not moving.
My question to the group is does this behavior really change or get better or does
it transform into another annoying/challenging characteristic as they get older. Am
I making the problem worse by holding him all the time or is there an appropriate
age when it is ok to let him be frustrated for a while?
I am kind of at my wits end, and both my husband and I are starting to get
depressed with what may seem like a small lifetime of stresss instead of
joy. I have even had a few anxious sessions keeping me up at night wondering
if there is something medically/mentally wrong with my baby.
I feel like the mom of a big sourpuss. The only predictable time he is happy is
first thing in the morning and not even for very long (maybe 45 minutes) where
I can get him to play on his own for 10 minutes here and there.
I am so envious of other moms who just keep their babies in their strollers and
can sit down and have some lunch/a cup of tea/ shower. I used to think that
my babies nature was normal but now I see that other parents don't deal with
Please tell me it gets better, and if not, how have you coped, how has your
'high needs baby' transformed over time (in toddlerhood and up)?
mom of sourpuss
I could of written the same exact letter when my little girl was
4 months old. She had only 3 modes...eating, sleeping, and crying. She
never smiled or cooed. She hated her stroller (a bugaboo0, baby bjorn,
and sling. She never took to a pacifier or bottle. She was only happy
when she was nursing or when I was bouncing on an exercise ball while
holding her. It got to a point where I was bouncing for about 3-4 hours
a day. Needless to say, it was a very tough time. My husband worked
long hours, only to come home to see me in tears while boucing up and
down with our daughter in my arms. But things started in change for the
better...slowly. What helped was buying an exersaucer and that kept our
daughter entertained for about 1-2hrs a day. I tilted the seat in the
Bugaboo so that she was laying more inclined and could see what was
infront. And I bought the Baby Bjorn Active (it has more straps than
the regular bjorn). Now my daughter is 19 months old, and she is a
bundle of joy. She is very mellow and is pretty easy to care for. So,
my message to you is to be patient. Things WILL get better. Good
I completely empathize with your predicament. My son was the same way
and I also remember feeling incredibly sad watching Moms who had it easy
- while their babies sat quietly. My son is now 16-months old. He has
become more independent with time and though he is still very active, he
is not clingy. If you and your husband are getting depressed or
nervous, I highly suggest getting some help. We got a nanny when our
baby was 4- months old and it didn't take him long to transition to
loving a new person, when I was not around. I'd also suggest that you
talk to a therapist about any feelings you have of resentment or sadness
over your baby. I also did this and it was a phenomenal help - only to
hear that my feelings were common and that it takes nearly a year to
feel ''back to normal'' again.
The first year after a baby is born is an extremely emotional and
difficult time. Our parents brush over this and people forget extremely
quickly how labor-intensitve the first year can be. You are going
through VERY NORMAL feelings. It WILL get better, but you can and
should ask for help during this initially very difficult time. Writing
this message was a good step for you. Don't be embarrassed by your
feelings. You're doing great.
Sincerely, a Mom with similar experience
First, I really feel for you. It can difficult enough to have a high
needs baby, but then to be around other placid babies is so hard! Plus,
moms of ''easy'' babies just don't get what you are going through.
[Also, they often think their babies'
temperaments are the result of their wonderful parenting--which they
aren't--and this must mean your baby's more challenging temperament is
due to your ''bad'' parenting!]. That said, know that every child is
different. My best friend's son was much as you described. She had to
actively soothe him with motion or attention or else he would scream.
It got better v-e-r-y slowly over that first year: longer periods of
contentedness, a little less energy required to keep him calm, etc. By
about a year, he was so much better (really by 7 months, but there was
still a lot of extra work involved in caring for him). He just turned
four last week, and I have to say that he is a total delight.
He has been an extremely easy going toddler. He's bright, sweet, caring
-- you name it. What a joy! So, hang in there.
By meeting your son's needs (albeit high needs), you are helping to
raise a secure, happy, loving child. In the meantime, get as many
breaks as you can, and try to meet moms with similar types of kids who
I had a baby like that who is now a gifted, thoughtful, whimsical and
independent 7 year old. It was so frustrating. I couldn't even stand
still long enough to chose a shampoo at the store before she started
fussing for me to get moving. You've got three years of high neediness
before you, I'd say, then things will get much better. Though each year
things get easier. I have three now, and have lots of friends with
multiple children and there are almost no exceptions to the rule that
second children are easier than firsts. Only the most sunny-tempered
first children have more difficult younger siblings. So, while much of
temperament is inborn, you can certainly moderate its effect. I'd
recommend a routine where you leave the baby down.
Pick a time that you can stick to every day, like your morning shower.
Sing him a song, then put him in his crib with a mobile to look at and
some music to listen to and take your shower. The good news is you
won't be able to hear him crying while you are in the shower! Make your
shower quick, 5 minutes or so. Do your routine every day and in no more
than 3 weeks he will stop crying as he'll know what to expect. You can
then lengthen the time you leave him. You can add other planned down
times. I know, deeply, from my own experience, how hard it can be to be
the parent of such a child. But if you can keep it in mind that it is
only 2 years of very very intense neediness and one more year of intense
neediness before your child blossoms into a delightful companion and
conversationalist, it might be easier to bear.
My baby was exactly the same way, and I was similarly concerned about
what it meant for him (and me) long term. I am relieved to tell you
that my child is now almost three and he is delightful -- genuinely
happy and cheerful. My only advice is to ride it out, and keep doing
what you're doing. As I recall, we saw big changes at 5 months, 6
months, 10 months and 12 months. At about a year, things started
steadily improving, until one day we realized that all that ''high
needs'' stuff was behind us. Now we joke about what a terror he was as
And when everyone else talks about how much harder it is to have a
toddler than an infant, you can just shake your head because you've
already been through the worst of it. I know it's exhausting, but hang
Bathing in the Light at the End of the Tunnel
I feel your pain! My son just turned one and I feel like a survivor,
having endured a very difficult year. Like your child, he wanted to be
held constantly and moving. I did not like it when I stood still or sat
down. Plus, his naps never lasted more than 45 minutes and he woke up
practically every hour at night for the first six months. The only thing
that appeased him was nursing, which I did A LOT. Rest assured, things
do get better - though slowly and subtly. I got some relief at six
months when he could sit unassisted. Things got even better when he
started to crawl at eight months. Now he can play by himself for 15-20
minutes at a time, naps for up to 2 hours, and wakes up only once a
night. One thing that really helped for us was loud white noise. We
wished we had discovered this earlier. It calmed him down in the car and
in the crib and got him to sleep many times.
To be effective, the noise has to be louder than his cries. The other
thing you might investigate is allergies. It turned out my son had
eczema, which we didn't notice until later. We also took him to an
alternative allergist and found out he had many food sensitivities. This
may have contributed to his fussiness. Good luck!
My son was just like your baby. I feel for you but please know that it
does get easier!
I carried my son around in the Baby Bjorn all the time. I would cook and
clean with him in there and putting him down to sleep after he had
fallen asleep was very difficult. He didn't really like the stroller
until he was over 9 months. Once he could crawl, walk and talk things
became much easier. There was no magic bullet. I thought I'll try a
swing, a bouncer... but they were only good for about a minute or so.
Try to be patient and know that it won't go on forever. My son is now
seven and a wonderful easy-going boy. However, he has lots of physical
energy and needs to run like a dog several times a day and as a baby
there was no outlet except for crying and fussing.
I understand your frustrations and fears, as my son was also very high
needs, cried a lot, couldn't be left in a bouncy seat, etc... The
hardest part was that none of my friends had babies like this, and they
thought I was a little nutty or overreacting.
I also worried that his temperment as an infant could result in him
being a difficult child, but the good news is that now that he is 4, he
is pleasant and outgoing. He still likes a lot of attention, but we
have worked hard to establish limits and reward positive behavior, and
it seems to be working.
The best advice I can give you is to take small but consistent steps
toward the behaviors you want to acheive. For example, he may cry when
you put him down, but eventually you have to put him down even if it
just for a few minutes at first. As he gets used to this (and as he
gets older and more interested in the world around him) he will be able
to stay in a bouncy seat or stroller for longer periods. A similar,
''small steps'' approach worked with a number of things as my son grew
older (like brushing his teeth).
The other thing that saved my sanity was returning to work - the break
from the needy baby was a huge relief. If this is not in your plans,
consider hiring a nanny/sitter for a few hours every week. Our baby was
much less needy around other care takers (children always save their
most challenging antics for their
parents!) and I think it helped our entire family.
A high needs baby is a huge challenge and you should feel good about
your commitment to giving him the extra care he needs.
Please dont worry about your baby's development. It takes some babies
almost 6 months to get over that ''4th Trimester'' I have a six
month-old and a six year-old and they both wanted to be held constantly.
And they are both absolutely fine.
My six month-old is doing much better since we have gotten him on a
predictible nap and bedtime schedule (in his crib) you may want to read
''healthy sleep habits, healthy child'' I have found that many babies
are grumpy and high needs due to the lack of consistent sleep.
Also, I would take anything Dr. Sears says with a grain of salt. He has
a particular agenda on child rearing. I have watched many mom-friends
in a constant state of guilt, because they felt they could not live up
to Dr. Sears ''ideal attached parent''. Each family is distinct and may
need a different parenting style. Check-out Penolope Leach ''Your Baby
Your Young Child'' her approach is more balanced and more forgiving
than Dr. Sears.
Finally, your baby's behavior now has very little to do with his future
behavior. As he develops new skills, sitting, crawling, using his hands
he will be able to spend more time entertaining himself.
I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone and that it will get
better. Our son, (who is now a very happy toddler), was almost exactly
as you've described your son. He craved constant movement and cried
whenever he was still for too long. The only thing that we found that
worked was an automated swing (and for some odd reason, the sound of our
vacuum cleaner). I'd say that somewhere between 6 months and a year he
went from very surly to pretty laid back and happy.
Like you, I was concerned that he might have some sort of
medical/developmental issue (I also had friends who's baby's were
extremely mellow which didn't help either), but in the end he was just
more demanding than other babies. Good luck and hang in there - it will
I feel for you: my daughter was just like your baby. She is now almost
3, and still is very grumpyIt's her personality. She still needed to be
carried around until she was almost 2 and a half, when she was tired. I
noticed that my daughter liked moving mobiles above her head. So when
she was about 6 months old, I bought her a mobile with projected moving
stars on the ceiling. She loved it, and helped her greatly to sleep at
High-need babies tend to be overtired, because they don't sleep well. I
have tried to 'sleep-train' my daughter just like at daycare, but it
didn't work. At 6 months old, I managed to keep her awake for longer
stretches of time so she could take a good nap. She finally took two
naps a day when she was 9 months old.
I would suggest trying strict routines for bed times, including naps.
Also, it is ok to sometimes let himcry for 5-10 min.
Comfort him a bit, then say ''It's time to sleep now'' and put him back
down. It might take a couple weeks, but it might help.
Finally, I taught my daughter to sleep longer in the morning.
She would wake up very early, to fall asleep only 45-60 min later. I
told her one morning: ''go back to sleep, Mommy is still sleeping.''.
She screamed for 20 min but never woke up that early again. She was in a
much happier baby after that.
So try entertaining her as much as possible, start routine and sleep
training now, and things will get better. Just be patient, it might take
a little longer until yours settle into a happier baby.
Mom of high need daughter
You poor soul - that is exactly what I went through. I was so jealous of
my friends and the bouncy seats, swings and strollers that would lull
their babies to sleep. I also had to keep moving.
It's a very isolating experience but I swear - he won't be a grump
I discovered the Moby Wrap which was easier on my back and more
comfortable than the Bjorn or sling. And I walked alot and did a lot of
housework and nursed alot.
At some point I quit worrying about whether I was ''spoiling''
or doing it wrong. I figured, what was the harm in responding to what my
son was indicating he needed in that first year? My feeling was that if
things did not change after a year, we could address it then (or go
crazy). It's important to accept that your baby is a little different
temperamentally (at least for now) than others' babies...and that's not
bad...and to manage your own expectations (of his temperament and when
this ''ends''). Change is gradual and in retrospect, I think it was my
were f!@# up, not my baby's behavior.
There really is no perfect advice except in knowing that it really
does end. Do what feels comfortable for YOU - whatever that is. You are
quite clearly a very good and caring mother so this won't be the thing
that sends him to counseling.
Keep in mind that as he gets older, he really will start being more
independent (otherwise we'd all still be living with our moms). Also
know that you're not alone and that even the grouchy ladybugs do change.
Mom to happy one-year old- patrice
It gets better, I swear. I went through the EXACT same thing with my
baby, and felt that I was the only one who had a baby who refused to be
alone, put down, be in a stroller, be peaceful in a car seat (he would
screeeeeam in the car, and I would go nuts). The only time my little
one was not crying was when he was nursing and sleeping (which was for
short periods of time).
It got better, at around nine months. I stopped breast feeding at ten
months, and since then every month is better (he is 1 year and 3
months). I understand completely how you feel, it was very very hard
and I am ashamed to say, a bit disapointing (my friends babies were so
peaceful) - but now that it has gotten better I can tell myself this
time is so short and my baby just needs me, before we know it they won't
want to be held. This is what I tell myself when my son is driving me
crazy, he is still very needy - I can't put my make-up on without his
little outstretched arms waving at me. But now he gives me big hugs and
wants to be affectionate. I think that your baby will be the same way,
very loving. It does get better, there are times now when he will play
by himself and he doesn't need me to carry him every second. Hang in
there!!! You are not alone. PS - baby einstein helps.
Oh, I feel for you! My baby is not that needy, but she really does need
to be held and moving a LOT. But more to the point, YES it does get
better. I have known a number of moms with high-needs babies, and it
does get better over time, as long as you're willing to put in what it
takes to care for your baby NOW. As the Sears' point out, fulfilled
needs go away, unfulfilled needs don't.
Hang in there!
It is discouraging to have a demanding baby, to look down the road and
imagine it only getting harder. To some degree we all have to work with
what we're given. But that said, I'd take that baby to a baby
chiropracter/craniosacral worker who can make sure the spinal and
nervous system is unimpinged. Then I'd go to the homeopath who can help
with constitutional, if not tempermental, 'issues', and get help for
that baby and then for yourself! Seriously. Both have helped my family
greatly. See Christine Ciavarella at Hahnemann Medical clinic at
524-3117; I pay out of pocket because it's so worth it. It will get
I feel your pain! My baby is now 8 months old and he was just the way
you describe yours. I felt so frustrated and depressed just as you do
and constantly afraid that I was making it worse and that he would be
this way for the rest of his life. He too had very breif periods of
happiness and wanted to nurse all the time and I felt so frustrated when
I saw other mothers breezing along with their easy going babies. So the
good news is IT DOES GET BETTER! My son is still not the
casual-devil-may-care baby that some of my friends have but he is still
alot of fun. Partly I have become accustomed to his neediness and partly
he has relaxed and started to enjoy some new things. At a certain point
I just accepted that my son is an intense kid. He has intense happiness
as well as intense upset (or at least it is intensely loud!). In my
opinion, your child, at 4 months, is a little young to allow to
experience much frustration, however, with an intense child if you try
to keep them from ever crying you will drive yourself mad. We started
letting our son feel a little frustrated or bored for a few minutes at a
time at around 6 1/2 months. It was hard, but he did seem to improve. I
spoke to a temperment specialist through Kaiser and she was alot of
help. I would be happy to discuss this all more with you if you want to
contact me via email. I had a terrible time since I did not know any
other babies who were that way and would have loved to meet someone who
had another challenging little guy. Hang in there!
Hang in there! Your baby is only 4 months old and it is not unusual for
a baby that young to need constant holding. You are definitely not
making things worse by continuing to hold him and he is too young to
start having him cry his frustrations out alone.
Crying is the best way that he can get your attention. It does not
indicate that he is going to have challenging or annoying
characteristics when he is older. At least not any moreso than any
other person! At four months old you are just getting a glimpse of his
personality. Your devotion to him now will only make him more
comfortable with who he is later.
Yes, it does get better! At 4 months old there isn't much he can do to
entertain or comfort himself. He is not really able to play on his own.
But in just a few months he will be sitting up and playing with toys.
And in a few more months he will be crawling and you will wish that you
could still contain him in that sling! I found with our ''high needs''
daughter that things got easier each time we crossed a major hurdle ie:
sitting up, feeding herself, walking etc.
You sound tired and worried which is understandable. If you are not
doing so already try to spend time regularly with other moms and give
yourself time alone or with a girlfriend even for just an hour here and
there. Worrying about your baby's health is so stressful. It is always
better to err on the side of caution. Express your concerns to your
pediatrician and ask that your baby have a thorough exam immediately.
Another Tired Mom
It just takes time, and probably you think 4 months is enough, but each
kid has his distinct personality from the beginning, and this is all
part of it.
At 4 months he's only beginning to enjoy looking around, so as he
becomes more aware of his surroundings it will get easier. My daughter
is a social animal, and as an infant this unfortunately manifested in
needing to be carried all the time. But once she hit 1 1/2, she became
really great at playing with other children, and loves going over to her
friends' houses, so I had a comparatively easy time later on. Until
then, one of the only things that would occupy my daughter would be
watching ''older'' kids, even a few months older than her. She was never
interested in toys, but if another kid was around that fascinated her.
(animals are pretty good for watching
Just to keep your sanity, do you have any childcare? It can really be a
relief to have someone other than you or your husband carry your child
around for a few hours.
Also, another person may discover a way to put your son down that you
haven't found yet. Even if you hire someone for 1/2 day a week, it can
Another thing-try all the different baby equipment that exists in the
world to find out if one suits your baby more than others-go to the
store and sit him in every bouncy chair, maybe one is more comfortable
than the others. Same with sleeping equipment-have you tried the Amby
baby hammock (that was a huge back-saver for
me) or putting him to sleep in the carseat?
Have you considered making an appointment with Meg Zweiback?
She is a nurse practitioner in Oakland who usually consults about sleep
issues, but she handles all sorts of behavioral issues, as well.
Sometimes, it's nice to have the voice of ''authority'' to help you come
up with a customized plan of action, which is exactly what she does, and
she has you check in with her, too, to see how it's working and to
discuss whether any plan-modification is necessary. She's in the
I have lots to say about this, as our daughter, now 19 months, was
exactly like your son at that age--constant movement, couldn't be put
down, had to be held all the time. I am still in shock when I see
parents in the grocery store or a coffee shop with a sleeping infant as
we could NEVER do anything like that. Of course, as first time parents,
lots of people thought (and still think) that it was our fault. We had
to learn how to tune those messages out or to politely educate people
that not all babies are the same.
We learned lots of survival techniques, and talked with other parents of
high-needs babies. I'm happy to talk with you sometime about our
experiences. There are great things and really, really hard things
about having a baby like this. I can share with you the view a year and
a half later--it is mostly great. Our daughter remains intense, she
will probably never be an easygoing kind of kid, but the extreme
fussiness has passed. Sleep is still a huge challenge for us relative
to other families with toddlers this age, but we have just come to
realize that ''normal'' for our family doesn't look like what others
would consider normal.
Please email me if you'd like to talk more--it's a marathon and not a
sprint with a baby like yours, so you have to pace yourself and talk
with other parents who have similar challenges.
Hang in there, it does get lots better.
I have a five year old who was a very high needs baby (everything you
describe and more). I NEVER could put her down.
I did not understand why people bought baby chairs, baby toys, or
anything for babies to do on the floor as my baby would never
be on the floor. I felt a change when she was between 2 and
2.5 years old. I just want to let you know, that you might have to meet
your babies needs in this kind of intense way for a long time. My
daughter does have characteristics that I think are part of her now that
stem from her needs when she was a baby.
Many of these things are special and unique and related to her
sensitivity which is part of what I love about her.
joyful and challenging
My daughter was very similar to your baby when she was born. She cried
and fussed constantly unless in the sling (and sometimes in the sling,
too). She's now five years old and still pretty emotional and sensitive,
getting angry or sad at the drop of a hat. That said, she's also one of
the most joyful, exuberant and enthusiastic people I've ever met (we
sometimes joke about her bipolar tendencies). She's friendly and
gregarious, curious about life and interested in all sorts of new
things. Her sensitivity and emotionalism make her acutely aware of her
surroundings and she observes some amazing things that I would normally
miss. Of course, this also means that the seams in her socks bother her
and she gets upset by the smell of the laundry soap and won't eat her
cereal with the wrong spoon but that's our cross to bear. The key is to
be patient and understanding and not to let your kid's sensitivity get
to you (easier said than done sometimes!)
This article was very helpful and recommends a book that I haven't yet
In the meantime, be sure that your baby isn't getting overstimulated by
music that may be too loud, or secondhand smoke, or itchy wool socks, or
a wet diaper. It takes a bit more diligence but it's not insurmountable.
And the sling is a great place for him to be, if he likes it. I miss
carrying my girl around in it!
I have an 11-month-old sourpuss who never really qualified as a
''high-needs'' baby, but who also always wanted to be held and on the
move. From my experience, and those of other parents I've talked to,
babies like this tend to become MUCH easier as soon as they can move
themselves, and that often comes early for these kids.
So I'm pretty sure your misery is temporary. Not that your beautiful
sourpuss will become one of those sweet easygoing babies who sit happily
in their strollers while their moms drink coffee, but it will get
easier, though probably in a sourpussy kind of way.
In the meantime, it sounds like you're doing everything I did. I never
let her cry it out for sleeping or anything else. I don't believe that
you're making anything worse, but there are things you can do to make
things better now. Finding some other parents of cranky babies to hang
out with is really helpful for venting and reminding you that you're not
actually an evil selfish mom with a demon baby. Getting out every day is
really helpful for resetting both your system and the baby's. Giving up
on stuff (nap training, for me) that's not working for a week or two
before trying it again is really helpful for taking the pressure off.
My girl is not the easiest kid now, but I can now see how her
personality made (and makes) her a demanding baby. You'll see that, too,
and pretty soon - I found that everything got substantially easier and a
LOT more fun around 6-7 months, when she started crawling.
My older daughter was just like your baby at that age. She seemed to be
miserable most of the time, but when stimulated by motion she would be
distracted from her misery. What was she miserable about? I never
figured it out. My mother said she just didn't like being a baby. If
you've ruled out illness, food allergies, etc. I think you just have to
keep doing what you're doing. In our case, my daughter became happier
as she became able to do more: rolling over, sitting, crawling,
walking, every advance towards independence made her happier.
I'd say the worst was between the ages of 4 months and 10 months. My
younger daughter, on the other hand, was one of those babies who'd sit
happily in the stroller, like the ones you've observed, so maybe if you
have another you'll get that experience! My older one, by the way, was
a perfectly happy toddler & has never been a ''high-needs'' kind of kid
Glad that stage is behind me
My first child was similar to yours and I had similar frustrations.
Initially I felt like I spent my whole day trying to put her down and
would be supremely frustrated when all of my efforts to put her down and
have a few moments of not holding her lasted only minutes. Ahhhhh!!
After about 6 weeks, I decided, I'm not going to spend my whole day
trying to put her down. If she wants to be held, I'll put her in the
Baby Bjorn when she wakes up in the morning (in my bed cradled against
me) and take her out when she goes to bed (again, in my bed, cradled
against me). I really felt that once I stopped resisting her need to be
held 24/7 and just put her in the pack and did what I needed to do
without trying to put her down, we were both SO much happier. My
daughter was this way until she was about 15 months old!! After that,
she became increasingly independent. It was frustrating at first, but I
really felt that once I stopped fighting her, it was better. I even
worked 10-20 hrs. a week that first year. The sitter or my husband
would just transfer her to being held in the BAby Bjorn by them and then
they could go along their merry way too. So, I feel your pain and
frustration. But my advice is stop fighting it.
Find peace with it. You'll both be much happier.
A couple things-first, i think 4 months is still little and though i
know it is hard, im not convinced that something is ''wrong'' with your
baby. I think some of them just need a little more time adjusting to the
world outside the womb which is, lets be honest, pretty inferior in many
ways. When i read your post, i was wondering if the labor was
particualry tramautic for your baby. I ask because my son was born 4
months ago and though i wouldnt describe him as a high needs baby, he
used to have a hard time sleeping when he was not in our arms, he was
VERY unhappy in busy places (like stores and busy streets), he hated the
car, and was a little jumpy.
My son had 7 rounds of vaccuum extraction, a resulting nasty wound on
his head, and spent 5 days in the NICU. At the advice of a friend, we
took him to see a cranial-sachral (sp?) therapist named Nancy Burke. i
cant succinctly this (im not sure if you are familiar with it), but we
started taking him at just under two months and its delt these issues.
It is very gentle body work, kinda is similar to accupressure but very
very gentle. my kid LOVES going, falls asleep soundly when she is
working on him, and is in a great mood afterwards. She specializes in
working with infants who have had tramautic births, specifically vaccuum
extraction. I dont know if this applies to you or not but email if you
want more info. also, we do infant massage with my son, and this is
great. Its a great way to give him very focused attention without him
being in your arms, so he can get used to this.
Oh, honey -- You have my sympathy. Having a baby who is addicted to
motion is exhausting, not to mention a back killer.
I could have written your email 18 months ago. My son was a motion
junkie -- not even sitting in a rocking chair would do the trick. I had
to be up and moving all the time, or he'd scream and cry. It was the
only way to soothe him, and it was the only way to get him to sleep.
And for most of the day, it was the only way to keep him calm. It was
depressing and tiring. We tried several times to wean him from motion,
but it just didn't work, particularly when it came to getting him to
sleep. I'm sure you'll get advice about cutting him off from the
movement, but if your kid is anything like mine, it won't work. That
being said, it does get better -- especially once your kid learns to
crawl and walk. That's because he'll be able to provide his own
movement. He wants the motion for a reason -- perhaps he has some
sensory integration issues? If so, you have to give him the sensory
input now, but when he's more mobile he'll provide it for himself. (If
you don't know about sensory integration, I'm sure there is stuff on the
website, or you can look at a book called The Out of Synch Child.) So
that is the good news -- once my child could move on his own, I was free
again. But -- there is a bit a bad news in my story -- which is that
every once in a while -- when he is really upset or can't sleep -- the
only way to soothe him to this day is to be up and moving -- and I'm
talking about a 35-pound kid!
Moving Less These Days
Your post could have been written by me over a year ago! I just had to
say, yes, it gets better. Like yours, my son had to be held and moving
all the time. But once he started crawling (around 6 months), he didn't
need me holding him as much. He also became more willing to be in the
stroller and the car seat.
Around age one, it got even easier, between walking and being able to
communicate better with him. My son is 18 months old now and a joy to
be around (most of the time!). He's also exhibiting all the typical
toddler behaviors -- to an extreme. While I'm sure this doesn't sound
reassuring, I promise it's still easier than infancy. We are developing
coping mechanisms, ways to talk to him and calm him down that smooth
over these rough patches.
Someone once told me, ''Spirited kids make expert parents.'' There are
so many days when I feel like the least experienced parent in the world,
but I try to remind myself both that my child is more challenging than
most and that I am learning every day how to be a better parent to this
I highly recommend Raising Your Spirited Child by Kurcinka. It focuses
more on older kids, starting around toddler age, but it may help you
understand your son better now, as well as prepare for the future.
Remember that, even when you look around and see only content babies
sitting quietly in their strollers, you are not alone.
There are plenty of babies like yours and mine, who will likely grow up
to be the loving, creative, perceptive, sensitive adults we always hoped
they would be.
-Mom of another spirited baby
Our daughter is almost five months old. From the beginning, she was difficult.
Everyone kept saying she had colic..... until the behavior continued to persist past
12 weeks. She'd scream for hours at very unpredictable
times, she'd be unconsolable, she would not sleep, she refused to be cuddled. Her
sleeping has been very irratic and also unpredictable. We've never been able to sit
and hold her calmly without having to bounce or jiggle her. We've never been able
to take her out in public. She never liked the sling or the Bjorn. Our bonding with
her has been totally compromised even though we have tried EVERYTHING.
She did have tummy issues for a while. A lot of gas and cramps. We thought that
was why nothing seemed to make her happy. But now that those issues have past,
she still is miserable, unpredictable, and doesn't like to cuddle.
Now she is five months old, she won't sleep at all during the day, doesn't sleep for
more than a few hours at a time at night. We know she is exhausted, but she won't
sleep. We've tried to let her ''cry it out'' but that didn't seem to do anything except
for make her cries turn into that of a wild animal who was being killed.
My husband and I have NO life. We are so unhappy and question every single day
what we've done. I keep thinking that perhaps she has bipolar disorder or borderline
personality disorder or some type of mental disorder, but the doctors keep saying
that since she is growing, gaining weight and meeting all the developmental
milestones that she is fine. They also say its too early for some type of personality
disorder to show up. Is that possible that our five month old has major mental
problems? Are we doomed for life? We've seen every ''specialist'' and they all say its
too early to tell. The bottom line is that I'd like to know if there are others out there
who've had this type of child. And if so, how did you survive it mentally.... and how
did your child turn out as they got older?
We do feel lucky and fortunate and blessed that we were able to conceive and
produce a child. What a miracle! But, the past five months have been miserable for
us. We love our daughter because she is our daughter, but a lot of the time, we
don't like our daughter and we are so fearful of our future with our daughter. We
don't like what our lives have become. We don't like walkingon eggshells all the
time. We don't like that nothing in our lives is predictable, there is no routine, no
Every month that has passed, friends and family would say that this would be the
month that she'd get ''better''. The one good thing that has gotten better is her
stomach. She still isn't a smiley baby (although she does smile sometimes witha lot
of effort from us), she doesn't seem content to just sit with us and receive our love,
she seems to have no ability to soothe herself, she seems to be VERY INTENSE and
very tense the majority of the time, there is no rhyme or reason to her moods, a
crying fit can start in a split second after she was just laughing, she doesn't like to
be touched or massaged, there is nothing predictable about her. Basically, it sucks.
Is there ANYONE out there who can relate?????
I can sympathize and completely understand what you are going
through! I could have written your email 9 years ago. Our
daughter was the same way, very intense, cried a lot, slept
little, everyone assumed she had colic (even at 5 months!. Rest
assured that your da! ughter does not have borderline personality
disorder (can't diagnose until someone is an adult...I know, I
am a psychologist) or bipolar disorder. She just has a
difficult (overly sensitive?) temperment. Some babies are very
sensitive and intense, very aware of their surroundings. The
only advice that I can give you is to hang on, it will probably
get better. It helped me to understand that my baby was just a
baby and was trying to communicate her discomfort to me, she
was not willfully trying to make me crazy. You may be happy to
know that I now have a WONDERFUL, delightful, smart 9 year old
and that people always assume that she was always so polite,
smart, easy. She is the easier of my two children (the other
one is a real pistol!), and you would never have believed what
she was like as a baby had you not known her at that time. Hang
Been there and survived!
I! have been there- it is very hard. My daughter is now 7, and
is smart, hypersensitive, hyperemotional, sometimes great to be
with and sometimes a big headache. She does well in school. She
is very intense- and was just like you described as an
infant.People kept telling us it would pass- except for my
uncle, who is a retired pediatrician. He said it was likely her
nervous system, and would not exactly pass, but morph into a
different type of difficulty (ok, those were not his exct
words, but that was the message) and that she was basically
hypersensitive to all sorts of stimuli, etc. She still cries a
lot, we still have some days where we feel like pulling our
hair out. I think the best thing you guys can do is to take
care of yourselves, both individually and your relationship as
this is very trying, try to reduce your own tension by letting
an experienced sitter watch her (do it!! regularly!!) because
your tensio! n is not helping her. If she is hypersensitive, she
picks up on how tense you are, as well. Get therapy or go to
support groups. If you haven't already, read ''raising your
spirited child''. Experiment with alternative healthcare if you
can afford it- baby massage, etc. She sounds like she is
uncomfortable in her own body. Look into sensory integration.
Try to see humor in your situation- she is not trying to make
you miserable. Find a more supportive pediatrician or
(sometimes they are better) pediatric nurse. oh, and DO take
her out, even if she scrfeams. It's OK, people will not freak
out, she's a baby- and you may find something that she
likes/that soothes her. It is hard because she is your first,
as ours was. Our second child is nothing like this. Being more
relaxed as parents has somethng to do with it, but a lot of it
is just temperament/adjusting to the world. I would try not to
see your daughter as having a mental difficuty etc. She IS too
young and those feelings do not help in your relationship with
her, trust me. My main survival tips: take care of yourself,
try to relax yourself and think less about trying to stop her
from crying. This is your baby, and she will have some
strengths and make you proud as she grows up- she may be very
artistic or smart, etc. , and give many people joy. Once she
learns to communicate, it will be a little easier for you- and
My heart goes out to you. It must be really hard to not be able
to sooth your baby. I wanted to share our story since it might
be something for you to check out.
Our son would scream for hours every day. I was told colic but
it felt like more. He also had to be bounced, jiggled, or
somehow in-motion all the time. We started switching formulas
and finally tried Nutramegen. All screaming subsided and he
became a happy child with what seemed like a new personality.
Turns out he had severe food allergies. He finally out grew the
last of his allergies last month. He is two. His milk allergy
was the most pronounced but he was allergic to carrots,
peaches, apples, soy, wheat, eggs and many other foods. With
some foods he seemd to be digesting fine, but it would cause
him unbelievable pain. He tested negative for all allergies
which indicates how accurate the tests are. Once we eliminated
everything but Nutramigen he was great. At a year we started
slow introduction of other foods and as he passed each food
challenge we would add new foods.
Might be worth trying a hypoallergenic formula for a week just
Some people react to food allergies with dramatic personality
changes. You wouldn't think a plate of eggs can make someone
scream and writhe on the floor...but it can.
My son sounds like your daughter. We were told we had a high-
need infant. Most of his early pictures are of him with brows
furrowed, looking intense. But, when we put him on Zantac for
acid reflux, he changed entirely. He's now an incredibly happy
little guy (more so than most, in fact, as relatives have
remarked). My guess is that there's something else going on.
She may have acid reflux but seem to be symptomless, if the
doctors can't find any other cause. We finally got our son off
of Zantac after figuring out he was having issues with
dairy/soy protein digestion via my breastmilk. I had tried
going off milk for a week with no change, but it actually takes
several, in case you try it.
Follow your insticts. You are the one who knows best for your
daughter, eventhough you are totally exhausted by this whole
experience. You said that your daughter's tummy problems have
improved, but have you talked to the doctor about acid reflux
disease or taken her to a gastroenterologist? My son used to
wake up screaming and we couldn't console him. I nearly lost
it when it happened 13 times in one night. Like your daughter
he was growing fine and reaching all the milestones, so the
doctors had no answers. My husband suspected that our son
might have reflux problems and it turns out that he does. He
was waking up at night screaming because the stomach acid was
burning his throat. Certain foods made it much worse, like
soy. Within a month of starting him on Prevacid (we used time
released beads mixed in yogurt or applesauce -- he takes it
very readily as it has no flavor of its own), his nightly (and
daily) screamings stopped. One other thing that worked wonder! s
for him (and for us) was craniosacral therapy. My husband and
I were pretty skeptical about the whole thing when it was first
suggested to us, but we were desperate for some relief for our
son and some sleep for ourselves. We took our son to see Nancy
Burke. She is a miracle worker. She's very comfortable with
infants. Her number is 236-1007, and she works in Richmond.
WOW. I just want to tell you that one of my best friends had a
similar child. She was all of the things that you describe, but
having known this girl for 19 years now, I can't remember if
when she was that small, she didn't have a good time
occaisionally. My friend had her career in day care. So she
could not believe that she, the woman that every child adores,
could have such an incredibly difficult child. She was always
reading books with titles like 'Dealing with! the difficult
child' etc.....and this girl WAS hard work.
I have to say that she was my absolutely favorite kid in the
world. Not only because she never took any s--t or put up with
any pandering but she was very smart and sweet. Exceedingly
stubborn though which made school and learning really hard.
When she got mad she stayed mad for a lot longer than what is
reasonable. But, I have always enjoyed her company and her
point of view. Of course I could just go home...
Difficult people are a lot harder than compliant ones
obviously. We all have our place in the world.
Anyway, this girl did become more and more reasonable as life
progressed. She grew into a good friend and daughter for her
parents. They are a very close, very warm family. However, she
did just come home from Mexico with a tatoo on her belly....
What a ride parenthood is!
Yes, I went through something like this with my second son. It was
helpful that I had an older child who gave me a kind of baseline for more
typical behavior. My second son seemed to spend the first two years of
his life crying or tantruming. I was so exhausted that I was truly a little
crazy, talking incoherently, running through stop signs. My advice
entails money, alas, but these were the things that helped me get
through that so very difficult time: find a saintly babysitter who can give
you regular relief. It sometimes helped to put the baby in a stroller and
! have him taken out for awhile; he did cry, especially at the beginning of
the walk, but then would get interested in looking at the world around
him. Get a counselor/therapist, so you can just go in and discharge the
stress of this relationship on a regular basis with a kind and sympathetic
listener. Try to eat well, sleep as well as the circumstances permit, and
get regular exercise--that can help relieve stress. I also spent more
money on prepared foods, just so I could ensure that I got decent meals
for myself. Take turns on weekends spelling each other: for example,
one morning you sleep in and the next your husband does, so that you
each get rest. I also sometimes just had to leave my son in his crib
wailing away while I went into the backyard and counted slowly to 100,
taking deep breaths. You might also check at Bananas for support
resources. My older son was not atypical--active, ! but very friendly. My
younger son was unappeasable. So don't let people persuade you that
you just don't know what's going on: some children really ARE far more
challenging. My younger son, now 7, is still a very intense boy, but he's
also delightful and I totally enjoy him. I didn't really begin to feel
glimmerings of that until he was 18 months old, and developed more
speech and social skills. Just this year his teacher suggested to me that
he might suffer from some sensory integration dysfunction and that part
of his temperament is simply to experience life very, very intensely with
all the ups and downs that entails. She helped me go back over his
history, into his early childhood and look at some of his quirky
behaviors: it really made sense of his behavior. I agree that it's too early
at 5 months to make these kinds of diagnoses, but your stress level is
unarguable. Having been ! through a harrowing time with a now-lovely
(but still challenging!) child, I send my heartfelt wishes that you make it
through this period.
Hmm, this brought back some memories. While my
daughter didn't mind being held or touched, she did spend
most of her time crying and resisting sleep. If we tried to
hold her while sitting, she would scream until we got up and
walked with her. She had to be in motion all the time. I went
insane from sleep deprivation and anxiety over what I
thought might be my failings as a parent.
For us the turning point was when she started to crawl- her
mood and demeanor improved dramatically. Fortunately,
she was an early crawler (5 1/2 months.) Now she is a
bright, spirited 3 1/2 year old, and two tons of fun. She has
always been intense, extremely energe! tic and dramatic, but
those qualities have a very positive side once they can walk
and talk. She is just a firecracker.
I don't have much else to offer except sympathy, and to say
that for us, it did get better. But get lots of help from friends
and family right now, because this is a really hard time. Try
and rely on others for support, and don't listen to anyone that
implies that any of it is the result of your parenting (I blamed
myself for alot.) Some babies are harder than others.
Unfair, but true, and I like to think that later in life, all those
qualities that are driving you crazy will be the very things you
love most about your child.
Oh, does my heart go out to you. I can't offer any firsthand
advice, but I remember reading an essay from a mom who had an
experience that sounds identical to yours. The book was
cal! led ''Child of Mine.'' It is a collection of essays by a bunch
of well-known and not-so-well-known authors who are also
parents. I looked it up on Amazon and I think the essay may
have been ''Baby Blues'' by Sarah Byrd, but I can't be sure.
Anyway... This mom had a child that could not be comforted for
months. I remember weeping as I read it because her experience
was so very trying. I also recall that the child finally did
outgrow it. This author went through the same emotions that you
and your partner have gone through.
You might want to check the book out at the library or at
Amazon. If you don't find insight from others who respond to
your post, perhaps you can contact the writer herself. She may
very well be local (I believe the book editor is from
Berkeley). For something as challenging as your situation, I am
sure this mom would empathize and perhaps share more with you.
Best of luck. My heart goes out to you, but I am sure you and
this writer are not the only ones who have experienced the
challenges you have. It seems that these types of trying
situations bring us all into a unique and special community. I
wish you well.
Your description of your daughter really rang a bell with me. My daughter was also
highly sensitive, physically uncomfortable a lot of the time ( I had to either carry
jiggling her up and down, or nurse her endlessly). She would scream bloody murder
when she was upset and wouldn't allow anyone to hold her except me,
including her father a lot of the time.
I was also beset by worries: what had I created? Was there something wrong with
her? Or wrong with my parenting skills? My whole life seemed like an endurance test
and I was constantly exhausted. (She also did not nap in any kin! d of organized way
until much later although, from desperation, we ''ferberized'' her -- let her cry it
-- at six months and she did learn to sleep through the night.)
The good news is that by a year, she was a much more reasonable being and by two
years she was a delightful, if intense, toddler who could still raise the roof with her
screaming. She is now 12 years old and a wonderful, well-balanced human being!
Smart, sensitive (but not overly), artistic, affectionate and kind.
One thing that someone said to me once when I was describing my daughter as an
infant is that it sounded like she had an immature nervous sytem. You might want
to look into this. Also, I believe there is a book about ''high-needs'' babies.
by William Sears. I know he deals with this issue (and it was very comfortaing for
me) in The Baby Book. Don't despair. Get lots of support. Find someone you trust to
leave the baby with so you can ge! t a break (this is not a luxury for you but a
necessity). Try taking naps with her so you can get some rest (it also may help her
to sleep during the day.) And just keep doing the best you can. Don't blame
yourselves for her behavior or let anyone make you feel like it is your fault! Chances
are she will turn out just fine and these early months will be all but forgotten.
(A brief postscript, four years later we had a second daughter despite MUCH
trepidation on my part. Our second was totally easy. Very happy in her skin. It
wasn't until then that I understood why people liked having babies!)
former desperate mother
I have no first-hand experience and no expertise in the subject,
but I happen to be doing some reading about Autism for something
I'm writing. If you haven't looked into this possiblity, it might
be worth going to
and going over the autism checklist that is linked on the
lefthand side of the page. Your daughter seems very young for any
kind of diagnosis and may very well just be one of those kids
that doesn't like being a baby and settles down once she's a
toddler. But you mention several times in your post that she
doesn't like being touched, which is one of the markers, and that
she doesn't sleep much which is another. Autism is a spectrum
disorder -- there are lots of ways of being autistic and many
autistics are quite high functioning -- but it does seem to be
true that early intervention can make your and her life much
easier. It also sounds like you could really benefit from being
part of a community of parents who are dealing with similar
issues. I wish you all the best.
I offer no advice, just the story which was ours, 10 years
ago. Our second child, a girl, was like yours, from birth. I
remember not being able to have had one peaceful diner in 9
months, I remember writing in my diary: ''I can't stand this
anymore'', I remember being called back home by the first baby
sitter we had hired when we tried to have a peaceful diner out
after 8 months of tension... I remember, but the pain is gone.
Why was she like that? We never found out. The pediatrician,
like yours, checked that everything was physiologically fine
and offered little help. The crying stopped around 9 months, as
a toddler I could not leave her with anyone else but one girl
friend of mine whom she loved. And then, at age 3 she started
school: she walked right in and immediately felt at ease, there
was no cry, no turning around. ! She has grown up to be a very
sensitive, empathetic, adorable girl who needs a lot of love
and gives a lot in return. The bonding happened, somewhere
during that first year, sometimes you dont even know it.
There were only three things she loved as a baby: nursing, car
rides and playing with the beads of a wood curtain door we had
at the entrance of the kitchen. A few years later, we had a
third child, who turned out to be quite different.
Hang on, it will get better.
It is clear your baby is physically uncomfortable, and is
trying in her own way to let you know that. She may not be
getting enough sleep, has an allergy, or something. You must
put her first, and absolutely forget about your own need for
quiet and solace. Her need is greater. Experiment, read the
baby books, consult other physicians, try hard enough to find
t! he cause of her discomfort and you will. When you do, you
will realize your true purpose as a parent. Your baby wants
you close, and needs you more than you can imagine.
Just a parent no different than you
When I read your message, you could have been describing my
oldest child at 5 months! She was extremely intense, never
stopped moving, and she didn't like to be held. Everything was a
battle. I also remember my husband and I spending hours walking
around with her at night while she screamed constantly... it was
a very difficult introduction to motherhood, especially as I had
friends who were telling me how adorable their babies were!
Basically, we finally figured out that we had a ''spirited'' child
and that what we were experiencing was pretty standard for a
child with such a temperament. Our daughter was an intense
toddler and preschooler, and didn't really begin to calm down
until 2nd grade (sorry to have to tell you this!). However,
now, as a 10-year old, she is a complete joy! She is still
intense, but she is in the gifted program at school, so
absolutely loves learning (which is a relief!). Participating
in sports seems to have done a lot for her abundant energy.
I've learnt to live with the constant chatter ......
Having a ''spirited child'' is exhausting, and I don't think I
fully realized how difficult she was until her sister was born 4
years later. Both my second and third children were much, much
easier babies. So, you definitely have an advantage,
understanding your child's needs now. My advice is to read all
you can about ''spirited'' children. I also took a class
at ''Bananas,'' which was helpful, and it also introduced me to
parents with similar children. It's a must to get as much help
as you can, especially a babysitter so you and your husband can
get some time to yourselves. Do you like to swim, workout,
etc.? This has been an enormous stress reliever for both of
us. And don't feel bad if you feel like running away rather
than coming home - there are lots of us who have been in the
same situation! Good luck!!
Our second daughter is/was a lot like yours and I know other
families who have also had difficult infants (in the manner that
you describe). Although everyone ''claims'' that colic disappears
after 3 months, its not true. In fact, some babies have colic
until roughly the age of 2. Our daughter is 8 months old and she
still has what I call colic episodes. It mellows over time
(especially at 1 year of age), but there was only a change when
(1) she stopped spitting up every time I nursed her, (2) we
angled her bed, so that when she slept at night her head was
higher than her feet and (3) we forced her into a schedule (let
her cry it out as a last resort).
Which leads me to this question: Does your baby spit up a lot?
If so, she probably has acid reflux and a doctor can prescribe
something for it. If she also has lots of gas or is
uncomfortable she could be reacting to something youre eating
(which youve probably heard before).
Other pieces of advice; (1) Take breaks. Figure out a way
to take-shifts with your daughter, so you have time off, away
from the screaming, (2) Take her out. People may be horrified
when all she does is scream, but just explain she has colic and
leave it at that, (3) remember that no one can ever truly
understand what youre going through unless theyve been through
it before. And (4) the main thing is not to get discouraged.
Your daughter does not have a personality disorder and there are
others out there who have experienced what you are going
through. Our daughter still wont get into a car seat without
screaming. But, it does get better. So hang in there and
eventually you will bond with your daughter, youll fall into a
routine and shell sleep for more than forty minutes at a time.
been there (still there)
I'm certainly no expert, but since her cry! ing can start
suddenly, even just after she was laughing, my instincts (I
have a 16 mo-old) say that it is something physical. Have you
seen a gastro-intestinal specialist? Your regular pediatrician
can only diagnose so much. If she is having an unusual GI
problem, it might be worth the money to see a specialist, at
least to rule that out. Best wishes.
While I cannot entirely relate to the description of your
daughter, we did battle colicky stuff with our son, and he
needed to be consoled all the time. Being told that it ''will
get better'' is sort of dismissive. The fact is that you, all
three of you, are in a crisis right now. It is not unusual for
some babies to not sleep more than a few hours at a time for a
long, long time, and one can debate the psychological benefits
of the cry-it-out method. But the fact is that you guys need
help. First,! what about seeing Christine Ciavarella, the
homeopathic doctor who runs the Hahnemann CLinic in El Cerrito?
What about seeing a craniosacral therapist, such as ChinaBear
Joseph? What about finding someone to come hold/ care for your
baby so that you can get a break? ALso, sounds silly, but
getting yourself regular massages or other therapeutic help. I
feel your pain, and really hope that you find some relief.
I'm so sorry. I know how you and your husband feel somewhat.
Our now 18 month old son was a pretty unhappy baby for his
first 6-7 months. Everyone kept saying it would get better
when he was 3 mos, then 4, then 6 and it didn't really. He was
a horrible sleeper so his chronic tiredness only contributed to
his cranky disposition. I remember reading that babies fall into different categories personality wise and
fell into the unhappy one.
All I can say is try to ride it out and know that she will
likely get better as her digestive tract matures, she's a
better sleeper, and just matures in general. If you're
breastfeeding, perhaps she's reacting to something in your milk?
Our son improved a lot once he started eating solids at 6 mos.
We also didn't realize that my milk dropped off dramatically
around 4 mos. and he only gained 9 oz. between then and 6 mos.
Our son still tends to be a bit on the overly-intense side, but
I shouldn't be surprised as his parents are as well.
Good luck - I know how hard it is, especially when you're
frustrated and sleep deprived!
I totally feel for you! I'm so sorry these past 5 months have
been so miserable for you, ! your husband and for your daughter.
I am a clinical child psychologist and I know a lot about
temperament in infants and young children. A few things: your
daughter DOES NOT have any kind of major mental disorder and you
ARE NOT doomed for life. 5-month-old children do not ever have
major mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or a
personality disorder (although genetic and developmental
disorders do exist in young infants). Secondly, the outcomes
for infants with very difficult temperament are quite varied.
Some remain difficult and others totally mellow out over time
and have no residual problems. So please do not lose hope.
Those things being said, your daughter's difficult temperament
does sound extreme and I think you would be well-served by
talking with a child psychologist or developmental pediatrician
who specializes in infancy. There is a developmental unit at
Children's Hospital in Oakland that might be a place to start.
And please do whatever you can to take care of yourself, to the
extent that that is possible, so you have the energy and
patience to be as positive with your daughter as is realistic.
I have easy children and sometimes I find it impossible to be
positive and responsive. But probably more so than difficult
temperament, being responsive and staying optimistic wiill
likely have an important impact on her development.
I know you have sought lots of professional advice, and I don't
know whether this will be a new suggestion, but have you
consulte! d with an occupational therapist (O.T.) trained in the
use of the Wilbarger brushing/joint compression protocol? I am an
O.T. (not currently practicing) who attended a workshop in this
procedure, and one of the ''case example'' videos was of a child
whose symptoms look just like those you describe. Of course,
there is no guarantee that it would help more than what you have
already tried, but it might be worth checking into (if you
Simply put, this is a system of sensory input that you would be
trained to do at home. It takes only a few minutes, but is done
several times a day (starting with every two hours while awake!),
using a special brush (NOT JUST ANY BRUSH!) in a specific way,
and then providing a specific type of sensory input to her
joints. It is supposed to help with neorological organization,
to help overcome extreme sensory sensitivity (including aversion
to being touched/held/moved, and other sens! ory input such as loud
or high-pitched noises, bright lights, smells and tastes). If
the O.T. thinks this is what's going on, she or he will also help
you plan a ''sensory diet'' that she can handle. Unfortunately, I
don't have a specific therapist recommendation, but perhaps
someone on the Network can help through ''Recommendations''. You
can contact me if you'd like more general information about the
In any case - be sure you and your partner get some breaks! It
sounds very exhausting.
Ruth Konoff, OTR email@example.com
My son was a very, very difficult infant. Sounds just like your
daughter. Cried all the time, slept very little, was fussy. Was
it colic? Couldn't take him anywhere, forget grocery shopping.
Didn't like his car seat. We did it all. Letting him cry, etc.
We had our son completely checked out by the pediatrician. He
was fine. Finally, at 7 months, we went to a child psychologist.
What were we doing wrong? And she was very reassuring. She
termed him a ''high demand'' infant. Very bright. Very sensitive.
Easily overstimulated. The colors, the bright lights, the
people in the grocery store all overstimulated him. What he
needed was to be kep! t in quiet, calm, still environment. At
night, it helped to have low light levels. And very, very
gradually we exposed him to the world. (includes food) While he
was breast fed, I couldn't eat cabbages, or beans, he'd get gas.
With solid foods, he often would only eat 1 or 2 things for
months (Rice and apples, yams and white fish, etc). A child
like that is very, very hard on parents. I was a wreck, and
finally quit working when he was a little older. Taking care of
yourself so you can stay centered and calm, is the best thing for
We ended up doing a lot of massage, and body work on him. Jin
Shin was wonderful. We did it every night before bed. It got
better at age one. It was much betteer at age 2, and really got
better when he was 5.
Today, he's 18, a very, very bright young man, studying
engineering, taking 3 lab courses, having a ball at college, and
we enjoy him immensely.
Boy do i understand! I have not forgotten those days (weeks, months)
and it's been over three years!
My daughter was almost exactly like what you are describing. I can't
count the number of times I was in the doctors office, pleading with them
to help me figure out what was going on, crying inconsolably (me! not
just her! I once saw a note in her file that said, ''Mother seems quite
agitated.'' ) I was starting to believe she had a neurological disorder -
and the doc's would say really helpful things like, ''I'm putting my money
on the bok choy you ate last night.''
All I could do to calm her was bounce on an excersize ball, and when
my back gave out I would walk outside with her in the front pack. But it
was like living in limbo - even from her deepest sleep she would awake
the moment my foot crossed the threshhold of a store, and start
screaming. All I could do was pace the streets and peer into windows!
I could not even talk on the phone because she would start crying and
then I couldn't hear or concentrate.
I noticed a change around 4.5 months - she stopped screaming every
single night. She started daycare and seemed to like the new faces and
stimulation. (I went back to work fulltime, and when people tried to
''console'' me, assuming I must be sad to be separated from my baby, I
laughed! It was my first relief in months and I was giddy!) But she was
still incredibly intense and spent plenty of time screaming - both ways for
a 45 minute car commute, for example, every day.
Anyway, this behavior slowly tapered off from there, and I'd say by
around 6 months I had a very happy and PERFECTLY NORMAL and
HEALTHY baby by around 6 months. BUT, that's when her night time
sleeping, which had been getting slightly better, started to get worse,
until she was waking up every couple of hours and crying. We did the
sleep training thing. Yes, she cried like a wounded animal, and not for
just a few nights, which is supposedly the average. It took 6 nights, but
only the first 3 did she cry as long as 2.5 hours. After that it dropped way
down to 30 minutes, then 10, then 3. And i can tell you, that was when
we got our life back. Before that i truly thought I was going to lose my
mind, my marriage, my job or all 3 - i was becoming so insanely sleep
deprived, depressed and dysfunctional.
And what is my daughter like now, at 3 years? The most amazing,
intelligent, articulate, but intense and strong-willed child I ever could
have hoped for! I wouldn't trade her personality for the world! I'm sure
yours will be the same. So don't lose hope.
PS: And get help! We have no family in the area, and because it was
our first we were afraid/unsure of hiring a babysitter. Now that we have
a second boy are we doing things differently! There are plenty of good,
trustworthy people out there - this list, Craig's list, etc. Just have the frst
time be short, and maybe even while you're home, and work up to going
out of the house for a couple of hours, and then longer. You will wish
you'd done it sooner!!
PPS: A friend of mine went through this but it lasted for 9 months - sorry
to tell you that.
I am so sorry to hear you are not able to enjoy your time with
your new baby. I do think it is to early to tell if there is
anything wrong with her on a long term basis. Obviously she is
not feeling well. I have a couple of suggestions for you. I hope
they will help. First of all I was wondering if she had a hard
time during labor. Sometime this can be both fysically and
mentally hard for a baby. COuld it be that she pulled something
during labor that still hurts her wen you hold her. YOu could go
to a secral cranial therapist. We had someone do some energy
work on our daughter when she was almost three months. She was
born with her hand on her head and therefore had a big bruise on
her head when she was born. Also, her shoulder was stretched
during labor. Th! e energy work done on her seemed to calm her
down a lot.
Another sugestion I have for you is that you just might have a
highly sensitive little girl. I am not a big fan of letting
babies cry it out, at least not by themselves. But I do believe
that crying can help in releasing energy and helping babies to
deal with all impresions they had to take in during the day.
Crying is for them the only way of expressing themselves. With
our second daughter we found it very helpfull to let her cry
while holding her. We tell her it is ok to cry and tell us about
all the things she experienced during the day. Although is is
hard to see her cry like that, she changed from a baby who cried
whenever she was not sleeping into a happy baby who still has
the need to cry now and then.
My feeling is you just have a really sensitive little girl, who
also might pick up easily on your anxiety. Whatever way you
choose to go with her. Try to stay! calm, let her know every
thing is ok, that it is ok to cry and she might pick up on some
of your energy. And if you have a hard time staying calm, ask
some of your friends to take care of her for a couple of hours.
So that you and your husband can recharge. I know it is hard to
ask someone to take care of your baby, but she will cry anyway,
with you or with someone else. I hope you will find a way to
help your daugher go through the difficult time she is going
through andn hope you can find support from your friends and
family to help you cope with it. Good luck, feel free to email
me if you have questions.
I totally understand what you are going through. My oldest son
(who is now nine) was very difficult as well. Everyone said he
had colic - but he was that way until he was 4 1/2 months old.
He was inconsolable and screamed - a lot. He didn't sleep
through the night until he was 2. He was rarely happy only let
me hold him to boot. I was miserable, he was miserable. It was
a very difficult time in our lives. In addition, I never really
felt we ''bonded'' and i felt guilt all the time - like a bad
parent for just wanting him to shut up. I know that is harsh -
but honestly i just wanted him to STOP crying and making my life
miserable. I had to constantly keep him moving. We lived in
Wisconsin at the time and I would have to bundle him up and take
him out for stroller walks or car rides or anything to keep him
quiet for 1/2 and hour so i wouldn't lose my mind.!
The good news is this - he got over it. It almost happened over
night. I nursed him up until 5 months. As soon as i stopped
nursing - and put him on formula he was a different child. It
turns out - he was very, very hungry and I wasn't producing
enough milk. All and all for him, there was a solution and it
seemed to take forever for it to happen. We got through it and i
LOVE him very much. It turns out that he is a gifted child
(very smart)- maybe a little more to deal with in the beginning
than most children, but a sweet sweet kid.
My point is this - chances are she will grow out of this. There
seems to be something that is bothering her - perhaps she is
sensitive to something... who knows. Sometime soon she will
grow out of this and your and your husbands lives will be
better. I went on to have 2 more children (although there is a
6.5 year gap between 1st and 2nd - took me a while to muster up
the confidence to have more). My second (who is 28 months) and
my 3rd (who is 4 months) were/are wonderful babies who both
slept through the night by 8 weeks.
In addition, babies are very keen and can sense when parents are
tired, unhappy or stressed. This adds to their stress and
anxiety. As I found out first hand - this is a vicious cycle.
If at all possible try to get some alone time.
Best of luck :)
I just wanted to start by extending my sympathy for the rough
time that it sounds like you are going through. You must have a
great sense of disappointment to add to the usual exhaustion and
emotions that come along with being a new parent.
A few words of advice... one, maybe you have a close friend or
family that would be willing to step in for you for a few days
so that you and your husband can get out of town and relax a
bit. I know it won't change the situation when you get back,
but you need a mental break. Mental exhaustion just compounds
the physical exhaustion of sleep deprivation. I know there must
be someone out there that would be willing to put up with
endless crying for a few days.
Second, have you looked into parent groups? I don't know if
they have any specific to your concerns, but maybe a parent
group in general can help provide you with a place to vent and
feel okay with your frustrations.
Third, I do think that likely this will pass or at least get
easier. Your child will sleep one day, will stop crying all the
time one day, etc. While they might always be difficult, it
will probably be to a level that you can deal with.
Lastly, I would just like to wish you my best and let you know
that I really do feel for you. Let us know how you are doing or
if things improve.
My heart goes out to you and your husband. I'm sure others will
tell you that you are obviously caring and intelligent parents
and that what you are going through is not your fault. Although
my daughter was colicky, she didn't come close to what you
describe. However, I do have a few thoughts I wanted to share in
the hopes that they might help.
I would HIGHLY recommend you get some cranial sacral treatment
for your daughter. This work is amazingly gentle and subtle but
very effective at working with the nervous system. My daughter
had this treatment and it made a huge difference in her colic.
Our practitioner is amazing. She is a Chiropractor and has
extensive experience with infants. My husband, our kids and I
still see her regularly. Her name is Chinabear Joseph and her
number is 510-272-9019.
I also wonder if diet may be an issue. Is your daughter nursing?
If so, you might try eliminating certain foods from your own
diet like dairy and/or wheat. I have heard amazing stories about
the connection in diet and children's moods/tempermant.
I would also try homeopothy. Again, a subtle but powerful
treatment that takes into account the childs temperment as well
as physical symptoms. A fantastic homeopath who is also a nurse
practitioner is Christine Ciavarella. Her number is
510-524-3117. She has an extensive pediatric practice.
Re: the sleep issue, I would also recommend the Weisbluth (sp?)
book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It has a lot of good
info on sleep and may give you some ideas for how to get your
daughter sleeping better- I imagine the lack of sleep plays a
role in what is going on- for all of you!
Best of luck. I truly hope you find something that works to ease
your family's suffering.
My son had only some of the issues you describe as a 5 month old
and remembering our frustration and exhaustion really really
makes my heart go out to you.
The only thing I can think of by way of advice is to check out
one of the Yahoo Groups for ''High Needs'' children
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HNchild/) The term is from Dr.
Sears' book ''The Fussy Baby.'' At the very least you could connect
there with other parents going through the same thing. I heard
the groups (I think there are two different ones) referred to
while I was a member of the ''No Cry Sleep Solution'' group which
some of the ''High Needs'' moms were also members of.
I also just looked on BabyCenter.com and they have a bulletin
board for moms of high needs kids. If this link doesn't work
just go to the community page, then bulletin boards, and you'll
find it as a topic under ''Caring for your baby.''
My last piece of advice is to ask friends and family for help in
order to give you breaks from your daughter. I think I was a
little too proud to ask for help but at some point I really
started feeling like a martyr (a very tired martyr) and that
certainly didn't help matters.
Best of luck to you,
Dear Elizabeth, after reading your post, I had to respond. I hear your
frustration. I commend you on your honesty and strength to reach out. I
have made a few calls and have some referrals for you and your family. I
strongly encourage you to take the next step to get the help and support
that you need and deserve. I promise that there is a light at the end of
this tunnel for you and your family.
Talkline is a 24 hour crisis line and support center in San Francisco. You
do not have to be a resident of San Francisco to receive services from
them. The crisis line number is 415.441.KIDS (5437). They have
wonderful supportive people to talk with. They help people in your
situation. They also offer drop-in support services and respite. I have
friends who have used their services and speak glowingly of this
incredible resource. Also, in Concord there is the Bay Area Crisis Nursery where you can
leave your child for 24 hours - 7 days. Their phone number is
925.685.8052. Parenting is not easy, and sometimes people just need a
There is help out there for you and your family. From the bottom of my
heart I hope you will take this next step and call Talkline so you can
have the support and guidance to get you through this very difficult time.
Again, Talkline is available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week--day and night.
All the best to you and your family.
My now 3 1/2 y.o. son was exactly the same way as you describe
your daughter. I was sure that we had a ''spirited'' child who
would always be a struggle - but his dyspeptic disposition began
to slowly sweeten beginning at about 9 months. I mean slowly -
I'd say by about 2 years old the process was complete.
A couple things seemed to help. I breast-fed until he was 2 1/2
y.o. When I experimented with cutting out dairy he mellowed a
lot. He had never spit up or gave other signs of being allergic
to my milk (except the continuous colicky crying), but his
disposition did seem better when I stopped drinking milk.
Sleeping with him helped us bond, and allowed me to doze through
his wakefulness(I didn't get more than 3 hours of sleep at a
time for the entire first 18 months - but at least I was able to
fall back to sleep this way). I worried that he was never going
to look me in the eye, never smile at me, never hug me back.
Sleeping with him, somehow, was the path for him to want to be
held and it slowly spread to daytime behavior.
At about 6 months I was able to get him into a forward facing
sling (the other positions just caused him to wail) and a baby
bjorn, that helped me be able to do something other than just
feel helpless - walking did seem to help us both.
He really began to make more improvement as he became able to
walk and control his world a bit more. He was driven to walk
early, 11 mo. and although he certainly continued to be very
sensitive to loud sounds, strange situations and new people
until he was about 2 years old - he has since become very good
natured, loving, very socially adept, outgoing and overall very
easy! (As easy as a rambunctious 3 1/2 y.o. boy can be...)
I sympathize with your feelings about your loss of lifestyle and
not liking your child. I've always said that if I had been a 16
year old mom with a personality disorder - I would have thrown
him out the window sometime during that first 12 months. I
thought I was going to die with exhaustion and disappointment.
Every book said that sleep training would work, but it didn't.
Every book seemed to suggest that a feeding schedule would help,
but my son couldn't adapt to one (schedule of any sort - sleep,
food, mood etc.).
When he was about a year old I began to get 2 days of child care
with a small play group - a co-op. It helped me maintain my
sanity. It took him about 5 months to adjust to it, but I just
spent a lot of time making the transition. It was a godsend and
he learned to love other kids and I think in the long run it
helped us both. I really needed some time away from the crying!
I was so tired I had no option but to let go of having a normal
life for a couple years, and luckily I ended up with a happy
kid. Really, I love him and like him now. (-; And my husband
and I are back to being able to go out for dinner, to movies and
I wish you the best. I hope she mellows out for your sake. If
she doesn't - read ''How to Raise A Spirited Child'' and hold on
Dear mom with unhappy 5 month old,
My heart goes out to you. It sounds like you are having a very
difficult time. I believe that things will get much easier for
you, but I am sure it's hard for you to see that now.
When our son was a couple of weeks old, he started waking up 5
times every night and during the day had to be carried around
almost constantly. This was tiring, exhausting in fact, but we
made it through. We discovered that our son had an adverse
reaction to any and all soy products. He was getting soy through
my breast milk, as I consumed soy milk, tofu, etc. When I stopped
100% the consumption of soy foods, he became a much happier
child. I believe that he was in pain all this time and his only
way of coping with his physical pain was through fussing and his
only relief was being carried around; the movement helped to
settle his stomach a bit.
My son is now 10 years old and still can't have any soy products.
If he eats any he gets very grouchy and is very difficult to be
I realize that your daughter may be having some other difficulty,
and that the soy problem just happened to have been a big issue
for my son. But please consider the fact that your daughter may
be having some physical pain or discomfort that she is trying to
deal with, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel for
all of you.
Our son does have a difficult temperament as well as the soy
sensitivity. (When we took him to an allergist, they tested him
for soy. The allergist said he was not allergic to soy, even
though he threw up 10 minutes after the skin scratch test took
place. We were told he was just 'nervous about the test' since he
didn't have any swelling at the site, they said he didn't have
problems with soy.) He's quite intense, he's very bright, he can
be dramatic, he feels pain intensely (teeth eruptions can be very
very hard for him), but he's very thoughtful, sensitive, curious,
and gifted with language, and very lovable at times, and we try
to love him when he's not being lovable, because the world is a
harder place for him than it may be for a child of a different
We also visited the bipolar issue when he was 6 or 7, but he
turns out not to have that diagnosis, although he has mild ADHD.
Things will improve; good luck, get some rest, and please feel
free to get in contact if you want to get in touch with us
personally, by sending a message to the moderator.
Please do make sure to pursue the food sensitivity issue, both
with an allergen-elimination diet, and allergy testing.
wow - it's hard enough dealing with a newborn, but your situation
sounds pretty extreme. Without knowing your daughter, one can
only guess at the cause of her discomfort and crying, but clearly
you and your husband have hit your limit, so aside from
everything else, I hope that you are able to seek some counseling
to deal with the emotional toll this is taking on your lives.
You're already on the right track by reaching out for help here.
So much of caring for young babies is frustrating guesswork. I
would be reluctant to attribute your daughter's behavior to true
personality issues - what's more common is a physical problem
goes unresolved (like the tummy stuff) and it snowballs and turns
into a pattern of upset, which is difficult to diagnose and even
more difficult to break. Some babies just aren't able to soothe
themselves. Add to that your exhaustion and her exhaustion, and
it becomes a vicious cycle.
The good news is that in most cases it gets better as some
physical issues (mysteriously!) disappear, as you learn to read
her cues and as she learns what to expect and how to engage
better. Take heart that it's never too late to bond with your
daughter! Studies have shown that babies who cry a lot when young
are not adversely affected in the long term; some researchers
even think it can be good for them. Even babies in VERY extreme
situations (who aren't held or nurtured at all) can blossom
beautifully. I don't think your current situation foretells the
future at all. Every child eventually learns how to be soothed.
The key, though, is to stay connected and open to your daughter
and her needs. If your bonding is being compromised, then you
need to take a break and/or talk to somebody about it. I know
it's sounds impossible when you feel absolutely maxed out, but
you have to find a way to take care of yourselves, so you have
the energy and will to take care of her. It will definitely get
better, but you have to maintain your perspective and sanity.
Also, here's a weird, random suggestion that you should take with
a grain of salt. There's a web site called The Preventive Ounce
(www.preventiveoz.org), where you can fill out a questionnaire to
get a snapshot of your child's temperament (and potential future
behavior) - although I don't think the results are entirely
accurate, they break things down into different scales
(Sensitivity, Adaptability, Soothability, etc.) that might give
you some insight into your child's behavior and help you
understand how to better focus your efforts.
Do not lose hope or faith! I'm sure it will get better and
better. My son is now 14 months, and though he was not exactly
like your daughter in every way, there are many similarities. For
about the first 5 months, if he was awake, he was fussing. The
only thing that calmed him was bouncing on one of those big yoga
exercise balls. We spent the better part of the day on the ball,
he went to sleep on the ball until he was about 11 months (except
for when he nursed to sleep). The other thing I did constantly
was sing to him and make silly animal sounds, just to stimulate
and entertain. Still do quite often, especially in the car.
We did not hit the ''magical'' moment of getting easier until much
later than people kept saying. He really hasn't liked to ''cuddle''
until just recently, though he always preferred being in our
arms, we had to be moving, and he NEVER sat still in our laps,
the carseat, any seat, for longer than a minute or so without
fussing. You will probably receive many responses and people will
mention that there is a Sears book about parenting the fussy
baby. I haven't read it but it might help you. You sound so
despairing that I just really hope you can find comfort. It just
seems to me that there are some babies who need a lot of
stimulation or they get bored or something. Now that our son can
walk and see the world, he is much happier. Once he could sit up,
eat cheerios, use his hands, crawl, etc., he did a lot better,
but he still needs a lot of attention and interaction. He does
not like to play alone for too long. He doesn't r! eally like toys
and never has - he likes the outdoors, plugs, the vacuum cleaner,
I could tell that he was not going to be one of those babies that
could learn easily to fall asleep on his own, and he has nursed
back to sleep (or needed some assistance - rocking, bouncing,
etc.) to this day. He now does rock to sleep though, rather than
nursing, but still wakes up a bunch of times at night. If I
hadn't done the family bed and nursed him back to sleep for so
long, and had had my husband or me just rock him, I think he
would more or less sleep through the night now, but I probably
overdid the night nursing thing and now he has a deep habit. I'm
tired, but I simply couldn't break his spirit by doing the crying
out thing (though finally at one year I've been able to withstand
some crying while lying next to him trying to get him to go back
to sleep without nursing - which was sort of successful until we
went on vacation over the holidays at which time we backslid -
we'll just have to start over soon - but just wa! it until they
start plaintively calling ''mama'') - so to summarize, your
daughter is unique and probably is just needing extra time to
If it HAS gotten slightly better over time (you mention that you
CAN get her to smile), that's the pattern to expect. It's just
going to get better and better, just more slowly. My son seems
bright and engaged and happy now, though still high maintenance.
If we have to rock him to sleep for three years, so be it. They
are precious moments that I know won't last. Just remember that
these first few years are sooo critical to their brain
development and personhood, and all that you're doing now will
make a huge difference in the future. I did not actually witness
or feel my son's attachment to me (other than his pleasure and
need while nursing) until he was about 9 months old or so, but
now we're so bonded.
However, you will continue to feel traumatized for awhile. I've
felt quite traumatized, and sometimes, especially during those
first four months, couldn't believe how difficult it all was.
Your daughter sounds more extreme, so that will set the tone for
everything probably: your recovery, her improvement, etc. Good
luck and don't give up! P.S. Go buy an exercise ball immediately
if you haven't already tried it.
An empathic supporter
I feel your pain!!! I had a difficult pregnancy, delivery, and
nursing experience. I was also blessed with a daughter who
didn't like to sleep, and when she did, I had to be holding her.
She wouldn't let us hold her facing us, and she didn't like
being comforted with affection when she needed it. She was
allergic to dairy and had horrible gas for months! I had post-
partum depression and a husband who threw himself into his work.
All the other ! Moms I saw seemed to really like their babies, and
I was jealous. We wanted a baby so badly, and then I thought we
had one that was unhappy just being alive.
Well, she is now 22 months old, and she's amazingly happy. She
loves to cuddle and give hugs. She naps now and sleeps through
the night. She's social, funny, artistic, energetic, and has
amazing language skills. She still hates being comforted and
insists on doing everything herself, but I think that's just the
independent personality that she has.
What I'm trying to say is that it will get better. As she became
mobile, I just stepped back and let her do her own thing. I
truly think that she was frustrated by her immobility since
birth! One thing that might help you and your husband is to get
some time alone. Have a date night a few times a month. Give
each other an afternoon off every week. Get yourself some
support. I don't know how comfortable you are reaching out,! but
that's what I needed to do. You can contact me at any time. I
can be an ear to listen or even help you with babysitting. I've
been there, and I know it may feel hopeless, but it's not.
My thirteen year old also has a difficult temperament. As a
baby, she was not quite as extreme as your description of your
baby, but she was very demanding. As she grew up, we have
sought the help of a child psychologist for her (for less than a
year) and for ourselves. We recently re-visited this therapist
for advice on the pre-teen years. Her expertise has been
invaluable. My daughter seems to have tough skin, but is
extremely sensitive. She pushes us to our limits, now more than
ever before. We have learned that it is worse when she is tired
and sleepy and that physical exercise helps to get it out of h! er
system (she is actually quite good in sports). She needs a lot
of attention and tends to seek it in an annoying way --
certainly we are responsible for rewarding her with negative
attention. My husband and I switch off on dealing with her, when
she is in one of her crisis. When one of us reaches our limits,
the other comes to the rescue. I tried homeopathy for awhile
with some results, but was unable to follow up on it because I
moved. Homeopaths will tell you their remedies work on such
issues too. I definitely suggest consulting a very experienced
child therapist and a homepath. Good luck!
I have only just signed on to this list serve, and so did not see
the description of your child, but based on the responses I am
reading, I wanted to comment on a few things.
As a mother of a 9 year old son and a rather high-strung 13 year
old daughter (who, as an infant, was a lot like what I think it
sounds like you are experiencing), I can say (partially in
response to someone else's comment to you) that it is imperative
you take care of yourself, too. If you are not ''well'' mentally
and physically, who the heck is gonna be able to help that child?
Figure out a way to get the relief you need. Unless this is some
extremely unlikely neurological issue, this child will not
be permanently affected by any of this -- and of course you will
do what you can to help, but sometimes there is nothing you can
do. So don't forget yourself in there. Being a parent should not
be the same thing as being a martyr.
I would agree with someone else's suggestion to tone down the
stimulation the child is getting and see if that helps. Human
babies (generally speaking) are very immature upon birth, and
their neurological systems still need a lot of time -- some more
than others. My daughter, and perhaps yours, needed extra time
for her brain to develop. She loved the stimulation but didn't
know (none of us knew) her brain couldn't handle it and by the
end of the day she was on overload.
Last, I'd highly recommend a book called, ''The Out-Of-Sync Child:
Recognizing and Coping With Sensory Integration Dysfunction'' by
Carol Stock Kranowitz. SID is the brain's inability to accurately
process sensory input (visial, auditory, tactile, etc). While the
book may be most helpful for slightly older children, it's a very
easy read and might give you some insights into how to handle
Best of luck. You will get through it. Really.
Our 7 month old son is a wonderful little guy, but has been a
high needs baby from the very beginning (lots of crying, needs to
be held all the time, difficult sleeper, etc.). He currently
co-sleeps with us. We have tried to transition him to the crib a
few times, but he will wake up every 20-30 minutes and cry (even
in our arms) until we bring him to our bed. His night sleep isn't
too bad, but he can't take naps without me there with him. I know
this is not sustainable and don't know what to do. Because of his
strong willed personality and my own hesitation with cry it out,
we haven't resorted to that.
Has anyone had a baby like this and, if so, how did you get them
to nap on their own?
tired mom of a high need baby
OK. This is how we dealt with a similar problem. We read books, went to
a sleep consultant, asked moms, etc. And the only real advice everyone
gave us was to make him cry it out. What we learned was that we were not
doing him any favors by not teaching him to learn to sleep through the
night. Every time we went in to ''help'' him, we were cheating him out
of the chance to learn how to calm himself down sleep on his own... a
pretty fundamental thing he needs to learn! Assuming your pediatrician
has checked the baby out, he is fed, clean diaper, etc... you have got
to just leave him. You need to realize that he is screaming because he
is mad and not in pain or dying of starvation. I had no opinion about
crying it out vs. other techniques before having a baby. Read
Weissbluth's book... it is terribly written and very disorganized, but
it might help you feel better about what you need to do. GOOD LUCK. Feel
free to email me with any sleep questions... I feel like an expert after
dealing with our son!
My situation was pretty much exactly the same. It was awful. It got
better. It's still not good (and she's two), and most of the baby book
authors and most of the people I know would be completely appalled by
the lengths to which we've gone to accomodate her sleeping. That said,
there seemed to be a big positive shift around 9 months (she could
suddenly nap alone much more easily), and another one around 14-15
months. After 15 months, I could put her down awake in the crib for naps
and nighttime, and she would go to sleep (as long as a parent stayed in
the room with her and held her hand until she fell asleep).
She has never napped as much or as easily as the other kids I know,
though, so you may just be out of luck on that front. My advice is that
you just keep trying to get him down on his own, and keep trying to get
him back down when he wakes. If it gets too stressful, just give up for
a week, and let him sleep with you while you read a book (if you have
the luxury of time to do that). But keep trying - developmental windows
will open up, even if you don't make drastic efforts, and you just have
to keep checking to see if they've arrived. I promise! (And don't let
the other moms stress you out with their beautifully sleeping babies.
They have no idea what you're dealing with) Haven't Abandoned the Kid
I sympathize with you! My daughter was EXACTLY the same. She would only
sleep while I nursed her and I sat for weeks on end on the couch holding
her while she slept. Every time when I got up to put her in her crib,
she would wake up. Finally I was at my wit's end. Either I was going to
go crazy (because I had no time for myself) or she was going to cry. I
won! One afternoon, after she had nursed and fallen asleep on me, I
picked her up and put her in her crib. Of course, she immediately woke
up and started wailing. I told her gently to go to sleep and left the
room. She screamed bloody murder. I went to another room and started
folding laundry. It was horrible to hear her cry like that, but I needed
to teach her that sleeping on my lap was no longer an option. I decided
to let her cry for 15 minutes.
After 10 minutes she had calmed down a little bit. She was still crying
a lot, but a little less ferocious. Five minutes later it was even less,
so I waited. Ten more minutes passed and she fell asleep! I had to do
this 3 or 4 days in a row and then I was able to just put her down
without any fussing. You basically teach them what they can expect from
you. Good luck!
Sorry for your lack of sleep. I have two ideas. One, if you suspect that
your child is physically suffering and that is what is causing his high
level of neediness, get to the doctor and don't stop til you find out
what is wrong. Probably everything is fine, but my child began to suffer
from a digestive problem at 4-5 months and of course he was very needy
when he was hurting. My other idea is that you don't know that babies
fall directly into REM sleep, which is very light. It commonly lasts
about 25 minutes, when they transition into deep sleep. I was never able
to move a muscle until after the 25 minute deadline. Then I could sneak
out. Good luck anon
I have a 21 months old that was and is a high need baby. Since she was
born, I have been carrying her in slings, arms, etc.
She would not let anyone else hold her, on top of that. Talk to him
before you do anything that will be different than he is used to. Tell
him that you will help him go to sleep but after that you will put him
into his bed. Show him his bed. And tell him that that is his, and you
would like him to sleep there. Reassure him that you will be there
checking on him. He will understand you. He may protest, but he will
know what you said. I could not listen to my child crying either. NOw
we have conversations about what she will do and what she won't.
My son was like that and I finally became OK with him napping in Ergo
carrier on me, in stroller, or in the car. Sometimes I would walk til he
fell asleep and then just roll him right into the house, and eventually
I was able to transfer him from car to mattress in the floor.
It didn't give me as much down time as I might have liked, but he got
the sleep he needed, and I had the flexibility to be out and about
rather than structure our day around nap time which was nice for hiking,
walks, or shopping.
Sounds like we are in the same situation. My 7 month old has been a high
need baby from day 1. She won't take naps without me right there. I
haven't even used a stroller and she is a BIG baby so my back hurts. I
won't let her cry out anything. I know baby's go through separation
anxiety starting as early as 7 months so my plan is to keep doing the
''attachment'' thing, especially right now. I am hoping later this will
build trust and security and then later try to change some of these
routines. I did decide to let go of trying to be a gourmet cook and
superwoman for awhile. I did hear (forget the source) that the more
strongly attached baby, the better. Hang in there!
Help! We are at our wit's end & ready to change what has turned into a very
challenging situation! We have a wonderful 8.5 month old daughter who co-
sleeps & nurses all night!(every 2 hours- on a good night) Sleeping in her crib
seemed not to work only because she would be up just as often to nurse & she
is a very light sleeper. As soon as she is put down in the crib, she is awake
again & not easily soothed.(picture trying to nurse bending over the crib) She is
high needs & has quite a temper+cry & simply won't take anything other than
the breast. We have been against letting her cry it out for obvious reasons but
also because I am sure she would just continue to cry for as long as we left her.
After almost 5 months of this I am exhausted to the point of being ready to try
anything! I am not only sleep deprived but also fear she will never be able to
sleep w/o being nursed. To complicate the issue, weaning her in a few months
seems like it may be IMPOSSIBLE! I am thinking of hiring a sleep consultant but
fear their methods may not be applicable with my very strong willed little girl.
Any suggestions, ideas or experiences would be appreciated.
This sounds familiar! What you didn't mention is whether you are able
get any sleep while she's nursing at night. My high needs daughter did
the same thing, which gradually lessened to nursing maybe once or twice
a night by age 2, with a long session in the ''morning'' (from 5-7 or 8
got up). Because I was able to get passably enough sleep despite this,
hung in there until she quit night nursing. I think this is normal
for some kids, and if you can live with it, you should just accept her
way she is. My daughter is now an extremely bright, confident,
self-motivated, self-soothing 6 year old, so I think all the talk about
them to self sooth'' etc is probably nonsense. But if *you* are
the situation, then you have to change it. I'm sure you'll get lots of
been there done that
This reply is at the far end of the spectrum of experiences
that parents may have ... our now eight-year-old daughter was
just as you describe your baby girl. Nursed constantly, cried
heartily, didn't sleep well, high-spirited, not distractible,
etc. When she'd finally fall asleep at my breast as a baby,
just turning the light off would wake her up and we'd be back
at it, nursing, singing, for hours on end. What we know now is
that she has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. No amount of
reading, consulting with sleep specialists, etc., could
ever ''train'' her to do what we thought was ''natural'' because
she is in fact biochemically unable to fall asleep without
rituals (of her own making, by the way - not imposed by her
parents or well-intentioned experts!). She is also unable to
stop throwing a ''temper tantrum'' when fully engaged because her
behavior only *looks like* a temper tantrum - it is in fact a
reaction to something beyond her control that she ''needs'' to
I hope-hope-hope your daughter is not afflicted with OCD or
anything else ... but I did want to share with you that some
behaviors are not under anyone's control ... and as a parent,
if this is the case, you shouldn't end up blaming yourself.
No name, naturally!
We had/have what 'experts' have also called a high need baby
(loud cry very fussy). Our baby did exactly the same things as
yours and i was, like you, totally exhausted. I finally had
enough one day when i had nursed for what seemed like hours,
gently put him to bed and five minutes later heard screams from
the crib. I simply couldn't take it anymore and did the crying
it out thing (Even though like you i thought he would never
stop). And that night it worked. He only cried for about 5
minutes and went to sleep. He did wake up later but i felt such
a relief that i was eventually willing to try crying it out
again to cut back on the night feedings and it worked...in fact
it is the ONLY thing that has worked and our baby is now a GREAT
sleeper (2.5 years later). I also wanted to emphasize, contrary
to popular 'expert' opinion, that i think it was one of the
kindest things i did for our baby. Not only was he better
rested but I WAS TOO. I was much happier during the day, able
to be fully present with him, and the resentment i had towards
him disappeared. It was such a wonderful feeling and i know
with my next baby i will do the same thing (if necessary!)
I feel for you, and I've heard this is fairly common (although
most won't tell you about it. Have you read ''The No-Cry Sleep
Solution'' already? Supposed to be an alternative to the sleep
experts. Also, Dr. Sears -- see
The first thing you MUST remember when night weaning a child is
that YOU REALLY WANT this to happen! We tried a few times to
night wean my son, but it didn't work until I was totally
committed (I had said I wanted to, but took my role as Mother
very seriously... whatever this boy needed, I was going to give
Second, the key to nightweaning is to have your husband or
another adult who you trust implicitly (and who the child is
close to) do the hard work. Have your husband to sleep in
another room with your child (to be away from your scent). When
the child wakes, your husband will need to try to comfort your
child with all means necessary -- hugging, singing, walking,
bouncing, offering water from a sippy cup, etc...) It will be
excrutiatingly difficult for him... and not so easy for you...
but the child will feel loved.
It took us about three nights of this until our boy was sleeping
through the night. At five nights, he returned to bed with me
and did not ''ask'' to nurse (very often). When he did ''ask,'' I
told him that nursing was sleeping and he could nurse in the
morning... and then soothed him. He accepted this without
Third, expect there to be relapses. Our son got sick and I
chose to return to nursing during the night. It only took a
couple nights of sleeping with my husband for him to start again.
It really works, but requires commitment on your part and
extreme patience and lack of sleep for someone else.
Blissfully Sleeping w Our Boy
Hi, my daughter, now 17 months, was alot like this, and still
is a very high need, sensitive and active baby (which can be so
hard but really has some great blessings also)... i was in the
same situation as you around 5-6 months... we co-sleep also and
she nursed all the time... i don't remember exactlly how i got
her to slow down with her feedings durin the night but i think
it happened naturally as she got older... reducing alot after
she started eating solids at 6 months... she also did use a
pacifier (i know not a popular thing to do) and would often
fall asleep like this... (she rejected the pacifier herself at
about 8-9 months) i would say see if your baby is really
needing to nurse all night or just reacting on reflex and a
need for comfort.. maybe you could substitute something else,
if she does sometimes use a pacifier, and stroke or pat her to
give her comfort.. slowing her down alittle during the night. I
would also say wait alittle and she if she slows down on her
own after satrting solids in a month or so... good luck! my
daughter no longer breast feeds becasue i am quite pregnant...
but she sill co sleeps with us and still wakes me up a few
times a night! par for the course when you have a super high
need, amazing little bundle of energy... but now when she
wakes up she also finds both me and my husband and hugs and
kisses us... totally worth all those sleepless nights.
Good luck and hang in there!
Hi, you might want to read what i just wrote regarding: ''Books
for Strong willed child'' I recommend books by Dr. Sears.
Particularly for your situation the same one i mentioned to
her: ''Fussy Baby High Needs Child'' We have a girl a lot like
yours. She is now 8 years old and doing beautifully.
She used to nurse all night long, boy do I remember those
days. Although it was so hard due to lack of sleep, because
she would nurse every 45 minutes at times, and would hang on
the breast! I also miss nursing more than anything! It does
end at some point, keep remembering that. I found that nursing
for about 2 years was helpful, as they get older, it is
something that is soothing, comforting and helps smooth out the
rough patches. And, it keeps you connected to each other.
If you cannot nurse for that long for work reasons, I suggest
you try for as long as possible. It seemed to be what worked
for me the most, even though I didn't have support from my
parents, I sought out people who did believe in it.
It was the toughest time of my life, but as soon as my
wonderful lactation specialist recommended that i just bring
her in bed with me, i got more sleep, and she was happier.
Babies know what they want-- they want to be with you -- a nice
warm body, her mom.
The time really does go by a lot faster than you realize. I
think of it as a gradual weaning process. If you decide that
it's really no big deal that she sleeps with you, and actually
snuggly and reasurring for her, then i think you won't be so
worried about it. Lucky for you that our culture has gotten
back to connecting with our babies more than even 8 years ago
when the whole movement seemed to be forging a new path.
There are ways to get her to nurse less at night and more
during the day, I bet Dr. Sears recommends some. And they do go
thru phases. Maybe you can increase her snuggle time and baby
food intake during the day. I assume she's eating baby food by
now. Also, we really liked the baby bjorn.
Make sure you don't drive when you're tired. Feel free to email
me. I know it's hard.
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