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How to cope with high-need 3.5-mo-old?

July 2004

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?

thanks
needing perspective


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 perfectly average/normal.

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. But hopefully a BIT of comfort in knowing that the best you can do is 1) Stick to rituals and routines, or start them 2) Go through ''check-list'' to ensure 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 - or 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? Abbie
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 sounds just 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. anon
I'm sorry to hear about your lack of sleep and frustration. My daughter is almost 4 years old and it has taken us a long time to get through the ultra 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. However, with all of my daughter's neediness, my lack of sleep, and the other challenges 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 to have 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 natural, easy transition to make. Most women would rather take 6 months to a year off to be with their baby. It is natural and instinctive to want that. However most women are confronted with having to go against their natural desires in favor of going back to work. I don't know of a single woman, personally, who had an easy time with that. Trying to balance these two opposing situations is very challenging and stres! sful. Here are my suggestions: Try to establish a pleasant, peaceful routine for your baby. One that will work for both of you. A baby will feel more at ease and secure knowing what to expect each day. Especially when they get tired and hungry. Having too many new things, or unpredictable things happen through out the day or week can be overstimulating and exhausting for some babies, especially the ''spirited'' ones. Pace yourself gently. As hard as it is, try to create some down time or quiet time for yourself and for your baby. Use the opportunity when you are not at work to create a sense and peace and tranquility in the home. When you are with your baby, make it quality time. Try not to accomplish too much in other areas of your life. You are doing a lot already. Keep your goals simple and realistic. Get as much help as you can from your spouse, family or friends. Take care of yourself where ever and when ever! you can. Every bit counts no matter how small it seems. Infants are very in tune with their mothers. They can sense when a mother is under stress. My daughter use to respond to any stress in the home in very dramatic ways. It would always effect her sleep patterns in a negative way and she would be very clingy during the day. When I was relaxed, focused and attentive, she was so much easier to deal with. Hope this helps. Laurey
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 overwhelming! Goodluck. another mom
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. Good luck. been there


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 teeth.

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 me.

Good luck. It will get better! Isidra


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 me:

1. Book by William Sears, something like: ''Understanding your high-need infant & Young Child'' RUN to the bookstore and get it!

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. Heather


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 of medication!

4-month-old is almost never happy

October 2005

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 this.

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 luck! Lee-Hannah's mom
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 understand.


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.

Good luck! susan


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 a baby.

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 in there.

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! Been there


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. Good luck! ublia@excite.com


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. Good luck!


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. Good luck anon


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 get better. Understanding Mom


Hi, 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 night.

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 forever. 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 expectations that 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. Tara tarataco@aol.com


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! Anon
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 better. Bonnie
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! Jillian
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.

Best Wishes! 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 too.)

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 really help.

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? Karen


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 phonebook. Been There!
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. Julie


Hi, 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 read: http://parenting.ivillage.com/gs/gsbehavior/0,,45pv,00.html

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! valerie


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. Sympathetic
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 since babyhood. 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. hengelhardt
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. genevieve


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 child.

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


Dealing with 5-mo-old with difficult temperment

January 2005

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 pattern.

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????? Elizabeth


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 in there!! 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 her. been there
Elizabeth, 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 to see. 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. Good luck. Sharon
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. Good luck!
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. Good luck! anon
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. elzarob@comcast.net
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. sympathetic
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. Cindy
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 her, 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 out -- 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. Possibly 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 http://autism.about.com/cs/whatisautism/l/blcharac.htm 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. nelly
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 don’t 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. anonymus
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!! empathetic mom
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, it’s 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 you’re eating (which you’ve 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 you’re going through unless they’ve 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 won’t get into a car seat without screaming. But, it does get better. So hang in there and eventually you will bond with your daughter, you’ll fall into a routine and she’ll sleep for more than forty minutes at a time. GOOD LUCK! 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. anon
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. Concerned mama
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 ours definitely 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! cvolk@comcast.net
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. anon
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 haven't already). 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 protocol. In any case - be sure you and your partner get some breaks! It sounds very exhausting. Ruth Konoff, OTR rkonoff@yahoo.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 your child. 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. infolist@hotmail.com
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. Been There
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. m_vanschayk@hotmail.com
Elizabeth, 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 :) Carin c_robison813@hotmail.com
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. Karen ksbarnes@alamedanet.net
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. anon
Hi Elizabeth, 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 (http://bbs.babycenter.com/board/toddler/toddlerbehavior/5752) 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, Marcy
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 break.

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. Dana


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 enjoying life.

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 tight! mombo


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 around.

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 temperament.

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. Best wishes


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. Good luck!! JC


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, etc.

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 adjust.

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. happycamper


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! Anon
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 your daughter. Best of luck. You will get through it. Really. sel


High need 7-month-old can't nap by himself

December 2006

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? Thanks, 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! jenzoe
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 Yet
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! JOJ
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. thebukos
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! Amy

High needs 8.5-mo-old nurses all night!

March 2004

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 to 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 when we got up). Because I was able to get passably enough sleep despite this, I just hung in there until she quit night nursing. I think this is normal behavior for some kids, and if you can live with it, you should just accept her the way she is. My daughter is now an extremely bright, confident, disciplined, self-motivated, self-soothing 6 year old, so I think all the talk about ''teaching them to self sooth'' etc is probably nonsense. But if *you* are miserable with the situation, then you have to change it. I'm sure you'll get lots of advice of this. 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 control.

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!) Good luck. anon
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 http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070800.asp Good luck. Jennifer R.
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 him....)

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 problem.

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! Tijen
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. heather


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