How to cope with your “high-need baby”

If your tot cries intensely and needs to be carried all the time, try these useful strategies to cope…

Babies-How to cope with your high  need baby-1
Having a baby is indeed a life-changing experience.

You experience the wonder of growing a baby inside you and endure the pain and rewards of childbirth before being introduced into the scary but amazing world of parenting.

There’s no denying that parenting can be difficult, especially if you have a wailing baby who refuses to sleep or be put down.

Some people describe these clingy babies as “Velcro babies”. The term “high need baby” to describe these slightly more difficult babies was coined by American paediatrician and author Dr William Sears.

Nor does it have anything to do with what you ate during pregnancy, or how you parent your newborn. In fact, your baby behaves this way because it’s his personality.

“High-need babies can’t rely on sleep to retreat from sensory overload. Instead, they overreact.”

Dr Wong Boh Boi, Thomson ParentCraft Centre’s senior parentcraft lactation consultant, notes that it’s normal for babies to cry. “What parents need to do is to understand the cry, respond appropriately, and learn to calm themselves, too.”

If your baby checks most of these boxes, you may dealing with a high-need baby.

Cries intensely The cry of a high-need baby is more urgent and demanding. He protests more loudly than the other babies if his needs are not met. He may clench his fist, arch his back and his entire body is tense as he cries.

Not relaxed The mind and the body of a high-need baby seldom relaxes. You may have difficulty swaddling him, or even holding him still to breastfeed.

Feeds often If breastfeeding is how your high-need baby is comforted, you can be sure that he’ll do this as often as he can. This means that you should probably throw any rigid schedules out of the window and be prepared to breastfeed 18 to 20 times a day or more.

Wakes frequently High-need babies have difficult falling and staying asleep. According to Dr Sears, “High-need babies can’t rely on sleep to retreat from sensory overload. Instead, they overreact.” In addition, their keen awareness and curiosity about their environment keeps them alert even into the night. They likely need physical contact with their mums to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Unpredictable What worked to settle your high-need baby yesterday may not work today. He can be an extreme people-pleaser at one moment, charming everyone with his cheeky smiles, then unleashing his anger and screaming uncontrollably the next. 

Can’t be put down Your high-need baby craves your touch. They don’t just need to be carried, they also want to be held upright where all the action is, and they want you to sway from side to side, bop up and down, and walk round the block ― for hours.