High Needs Baby (Pixiecurl)

RheannaRheanna Registered Users Posts: 2,614
PC - Just wondering how things are going as a follow up to your high needs baby thread a month or so ago. I think about you and Abram a lot, I guess in part because he was born just a week or so after my LO. Also seeking advice/support from anyone here who has dealt with a "high needs" baby. I bookmarked that list on Dr. Sears' site when she was just a couple weeks old and if anything, she meets the 12 features even more so now.

I'm learning to deal with other people acting as though it's somehow my fault or that I "made her" this way, even though she's been this way since, well, birth or at least a week or two old - after she stopped sleeping much of the time. I don't have the luxury of not going places since I work outside the home and have to drive to the sitter's house 5 days a week, but besides that, I tend to avoid going far because she screams until she throws up after more than just a few minutes in the car.

She's just SO sensitive and touchy about things. She's extremely observant, notices everything, always watching and looking, and sometimes she just seems to hate where we are or whoever is around. It's hard to know when it will happen and when it won't. A stranger speaking to her can set her off into a frantic crying fit that won't stop until we are out of that environment, yet other times she'll beam and coo at them. I've not been able to hand her off to a family member for a minute since she was a couple weeks old, unless she was very used to them already.

Attempting to dine out can be hellish. It's like she's super sensitive and sometimes decides she doesn't like the restaurant. One day she was well rested, fed, and happy, and we walked into a restaurant that was just like any other casual dining place, and she stuck her bottom lip out and it trembled literally as soon as we got in the door. The wailing started immediately after. I didn't even get to touch my food, just ended up getting a box and leaving because she wouldn't calm down.

I sometimes feel like I'm the only one who deals with this moodiness and sensitivity because all of my friends have had mellow laid back happy babies that sleep anywhere and can take any sort of disruption in their routine and are very travel-friendly. And then that attitude of I have somehow done something wrong to make her be this way that I get from sooo many people.

She will not nap unless I block out anything for her to look at or listen to (mobiles will not lull my baby to sleep lol). Sometimes she still has to be swaddled so that she doesn't throw her arms around, poke herself, and keep herself awake. If I hold her to get her to sleep, I have to hold her really tight against me and put my face against hers and say "shhh" repeatedly or she looks around, bends over backwards, throws her body around, and wails even though she's so tired. She is very very demanding of my attention, more than other babies I've been around. On bad days, I'm happy if I can put her down at all without her crying. This is rough because I get home sometime around 6 now and I have to wash bottles, eat, get things ready for the next day and so on, but she just wants my constant attention. Then, on good days, she'll sit and entertain herself for up to an hour while awake, allowing me to do things. Every day is something new, no matter what I do. Consistency is very hard to achieve in certain areas.

Of course, Ava is happy a lot of the time too. She smiles a lot, she's very loud and vocal and squeals so shrilly that it hurts my ears when she's super excited. She's very active and squirmy. She only weighs 13 pounds now but can almost flip a bouncy seat, etc by thrashing and bucking her entire body up and down (picture a breakdancing move or a fish flop). She splashes almost all of the water out of her baby tub by doing this and scissor kicking her legs rapidly.

But when she's not happy, there's hell to pay. When she's unhappy, she is very UNhappy, there's nothing in between. And she definitely doesn't hold back on informing you about it. If I don't get her calmed down quickly and remove her from whatever situation has upset her, she will go and go and go. I don't agree with CIO anyway (funny because I always thought I would use it until I was a parent and realized how cruel it felt to me) but even if I did, I am positive it would not work. She has screamed nonstop in the car for 2 hours before and it only escalated/caused puking, and it took me hours to calm her down after we got home too. That was the first and last long car trip by myself. It was an hour drive but I kept pulling over and calming her down, or trying to anyway. Anyway, it's hard to not be in constant don't-upset-Ava mode, but I know I have to live my life too and I can't raise her to never ever learn how to deal with different situations.

On the upside, I know that sensitivity and a strong will, as well as being opinionated and energetic, can translate to very good traits with time, but I want to be sure I help her turn these qualities into positive and not just cause frustration as she grows.

I guess I can't say much because my Mom wrote in my baby book that I was NOT an easy/good baby and that I was strong willed, headstrong, and independent at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and so on. She told me that she got so tired of being telling her I was just spoiled, and that no one would babysit me for long because I screamed all day for her. She refused to cosleep because at that point they were convinced your baby would be forever in the bed with you and never be an independent person, But when I was 9 months old and shimmying up my crib bars and tumbling out to crawl to their bed (just a couple feet away) she was afraid I would kill myself. At that point, I ended up in the bed with them. So I suppose Ava comes by it all honestly.


  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Rheanna, I'm sending many hugs your way. I don't have a lot of time to reply now because my MIL and GMIL are visiting, but I will write a detailed reply tomorrow.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • DarkAngelDarkAngel Registered Users Posts: 2,671 Curl Neophyte
    Rheanna, I am typing one handed so this will be brief. Have you tried music or white noise with Ava when she is overstimulated? Alexander was and is easily overstimulated. He had one song that I would play and get instant calming. It was not a nice quiet lullaby. It was an entirely inappropriate Tupac song. He needed the hard and fast beat. White noise works with Baby Sebastian but he doesnt get as worked up.

    Xan is 4 and still like this. It gets easier to handle. I've grown with him and learned how to handle many of his quirks.

    "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
  • mad scientistmad scientist Registered Users Posts: 3,530 Curl Neophyte
    Rheanna, I know it feels like forever, but she's still really really small!

    My first one was like this until age 6 months - what you described about the quivering as you enter the restaurant was exactly what I remember with him. The mall, restaurants, people's house - meltdown city. It did get a lot better after 6 months old.

    DH and I still are mystified by these little babies that are happily sleeping in restaurants - neither of ours were like that.

  • MagooMagoo Registered Users Posts: 2,173 Curl Neophyte
    My son was the same way and I admit it was so hard at times. We barely ever went out because he just fussed and cried ALL THE TIME. I remember at his baptism, he cried and fussed throughout the entire ceremony. DH kept walking him up and down the aisles. I even tried nursing him to sleep at the back of the church but if my son was out anywhere he wouldn't sleep even if he was exhausted. Meanwhile the 10 other babies slept through the entire thing. I can count on 1 hand the times he ever fell asleep in the car or the stroller. Even in the hospital the nurses where surprised at how alert he was for a newborn.

    I'm always baffled when I see people go out to dinner with a baby in a carrier that just sits there happily or sleeps. That type of baby doesn't exist in my world. Some things that helped with the sleep especially naps was removing any bit of stimulation possible. His room was pitch dark (I had black out curtains) and I'd put on a noise machine usually to static or rain. Music wasn't helpful for us.

    I know how easy it is to feel like you're the only one in the world with the "fussy" baby but I learned to get over it and not let myself get upset over the comments from people. I'd get the "oh, maybe you're spoiling him" or "if I were you I'd do blah, blah..." I don't care what anyone says only the parent of a baby like that can understand what it's like.
    Like Madscientist, things got a bit better around the 6-7 month mark when he was able to "do" more. By then he was able to sit up and play and was crawling.
    Another thing that helped me was learning to accept that this was who he was and his personality. Even at 5 he's still a pretty intense kid. He's extremely independent, always debates me on everything and is very energetic and active. He's always the loudest kid at the playground and not shy at all. It takes a lot more energy and effort to parent a child like him but I've learned how to approach him.

    "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Kurcinka (sp?) was a good book that a friend of mine gave me that helped me a lot. I cried when I read the first paragraph because it described exactly how I was feeling.

    Hang in there and try to take it one day at a time.
    We're always here to listen.
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  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    OK I've got a couple minutes so I'll post now.

    First of all, you'll never know whether you did anything to make her the way she is. It's entirely possible that the way you're parenting her is contributing to how she is (both the good and "bad" aspects) and it's also entirely possible that it's just her personality and she would be this way regardless. You know you're doing what you believe is right, so don't let anyone make you feel that any challenges you face are your own "fault".

    Abram seems to have calmed down a lot over the past month or so. I don't know if he outgrew his reflux a bit or what, but things have been a lot better for us, though we still face some challenges. He still hates the car. When we go someplace all together, I sit in back with the boys and sometimes sucking on my finger will keep him happy. I've also had to learn how to reach back and let him suck my finger while I'm driving. We've tried a pacifier which didn't work, and while he does suck his thumb sometimes, he never seems to want it in the car. The only way he'll fall asleep in the car is if I put him in at just the right moment and he can fall asleep without crying. If he starts to cry, the car will not calm him down and he will not fall asleep. I still pull over sometimes if he gets frantic or if my finger doesn't calm him down.

    The other big obstacle I face is with his sleep - completely different obstacles than I've faced with Solomon. I can usually get him to sleep pretty easily if I do it at the right time. I almost exclusively wear him to sleep for naps, and nurse him to sleep at night. I've mastered putting him down from my wrap to bed, to the point where I don't even need to wait more than a minute or so and even if he opens his eyes during transfer, he'll go right back to sleep when I cover him up. But, if I do put him down as opposed to wearing him through the whole nap, he won't sleep more than 40-45 minutes. Only once or twice in the past few months has he slept longer than that alone. If I go in when he wakes and try to lay down and nurse him back to sleep, it rarely works (usually because Solly follows me in and is noisy, but even with peace and quiet it doesn't work). If I know we've got a busy day later, I'll sometimes wear him through his first nap of the day so I make sure we've got one good one under our belt, but it makes it harder to meet Sol's needs when I'm wearing a sleeping Abram. The other problem is, when I do wear him through his nap, he can be sensitive to noise so I'm constantly bouncing/shushing him back to sleep. Because I've got a 2.5y/o as well, Abram needs to learn how to sleep better alone or through noise (one or the other at least!). In the evening, I nurse him to sleep on my lap and then he stays on my or DH's lap until we go to bed. It would be nice if he could sleep alone those first few hours so we could have some alone-time, but he would wake up and probably wake up Solomon. Once in bed, he's a good sleeper as long as he's close to me. I couldn't tell you for sure, but I don't think he wakes to nurse more than a couple times per night, and I'm pretty sure Solomon wakes me up more at night than Abram does.

    I do feel that Abram can be very needy some days too (then I remind myself duh, he's a baby of course he's needy). He doesn't always love to be worn while he's awake, so it can be challenging when he wants to be held but doesn't want to be wrapped, so I can't do much else. I also feel mommy-guilt because I feel like I don't meet his needs as quickly as I did Sol's when he was a baby, or that he doesn't get as much attention as Sol did as a baby.

    Lastly, I've found that Shhhushing really still helps a lot. When he's overtired or crying, what always helps is wrap + motion (usually bouncing on an exercise ball) + Shhhhh. Sometimes I put my mouth right up against his ear and shush LOUDLY. It doesn't work without the shushing if he's frantic.

    I probably didn't say anything helpful to you, but I can commiserate and if you ever want to vent/talk feel free to post here or PM me!
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    Neither of my kids were super high needs, but I have known a few. I certainly don't think you made her this way, beyond contributing your genes. So pay no attention to the people that say otherwise. You are her mom, you are doing what you know works best. Most babies settle at around 3 to 4 months but from what I hear it is common for the high-needs babies to take longer and settle at 6 or 7. I know it feels like eternity now, but hang in there and remember it will get a bit easier. In the mean time don't measure her against other babies, and just keep doing whatever you need to take care of Ava and yourself.
    Pixie, 45 minutes would have been great for either of my kids at Abram's age. Ben was napping maybe 20 minutes at a shot, so when he started sleeping 45 I was ecstatic. He eventually turned into a good sleeper, and Nadia was similar. I think you are on the right track with A. Keep putting him down for naps and eventually he will sleep longer.
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  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    My daughter is pretty spirited too and it can be very trying. I also look at these calm babies who will sleep or just chill in a car seat and it seems so weird to me. All the moms in my playgroup have toddlers that are still happy to snuggle up in a carrier or sit with their mom and my daughter will not have any of that. I don't think you need to worry that by keeping her happy at 4 or 5 months, she will never learn to deal with life. I think with a young baby, you just have to do what works and gets you through the day. You can worry about that other stuff when she's a toddler and starts having fits about how many cookies she can have :)

    Something I've learned in my (limited) experience with parenting stuff is that the trying stuff is temporary. It may seem like it goes on forever, but it won't. Your kid will eventually outgrow this stage. Right now, baby Iris is teething and having crazy amounts of tantrums and it's making me nuts. But I tell myself that this is just a phase and take it one day at a time.

    When she used to scream in the car, the only thing that would work was this one lullaby. No other song, just that one. Now if she's flipping out and I put on Lady Gaga, she is instantly happy. So keep trying stuff and maybe you will find that one random thing she likes.

    Since you mentioned CIO, I have to throw in my two cents. It seemed cruel and heartless to me when Iris was Ava's age too. But we did it when she was around 1 year old, and it was a lifesaver. This may be an unpopular opinion around here, but our lives are much better since we used CIO to solve sleep problems. I am a better mother because I'm well-rested, more emotionally stable and my marriage is stronger because we get time to ourselves every night (we were cosleeping before we did CIO). Different things work at different ages--I wouldn't do it with a baby as young as Ava but it really did work for us later.

    Anyway, hang in there! It gets better, I promise.
  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    geeky - thanks for the words of encouragement about Abram.

    Rheanna, I thought of two more things to add to my previous post, both about overstimulation. One is, I'm wondering if part of the reason Abram likes to suck on my finger while I'm driving is because since I'm reaching back, the palm of my hand ends up covering his eyes and maybe it blocks out sights that are overstimulating him. The other thing is only pertinent if you wear Ava in a sling or carrier of any sort. A lot of babies seem to prefer facing outward at this age, but one argument against facing outward is that if they get overstimulated, they can't bury their faces in their parent's chest or shoulder or anything. So if you do wear her, maybe you can try facing inward or even a hip carry. A hip carry will allow her to look around but also to retreat to you if she gets overstimulated.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • RheannaRheanna Registered Users Posts: 2,614
    Thanks everyone. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one with a "spirited" baby. I too am totally baffled by babies just sleeping in restaurants or chilling in their carseat. It amazes me. It seriously seems as though *all* other babies do this and mine is the only moody fussy one. I know the constant spitting up and reflux doesn't help. I use the formula for spitting up, she's on her second medication, I keep her upright after feeding, don't jostle her around much within an hour of eating, use Dr. Brown's bottles and she still spits up more than average babies do. So between the two, I do a lot of laundry, smell sour a lot, and sometimes my ears are ringing when she gets into a mood. :laughing8:

    She definitely gets overstimulated, PC, but she also gets so bored, so it's a constant fine line to walk. If I keep things quiet and she's bored she screams, but if she's overstimulated, she fusses and whines more than screaming. I do wear her some, although I'm not with her during the day, and usually seems to prefer facing me. That's a good point about facing outward.

    Again, thank you guys. I guess I just have to keep trying things, as I have, and I'll find more things that work (at least for a little while ;)). I know that it gets better, and it already has gotten better than the early days. But we definitely have our days. I just don't think I would know what to do if I had a mellow content baby. Mine definitely has quite a personality. :toothy8:
  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    It seriously seems as though *all* other babies do this and mine is the only moody fussy one.

    It's because only the easy babies are out and about. The other fussy ones are home, puking all over their moms.
    To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
    I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

    Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
  • RheannaRheanna Registered Users Posts: 2,614
    geeky wrote: »
    It seriously seems as though *all* other babies do this and mine is the only moody fussy one.
    It's because only the easy babies are out and about. The other fussy ones are home, puking all over their moms.

    Haha! :laughing6: I never thought about it like that but I guess that's a good point.
  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Yeah I wouldn't dream of taking Abram to a restaurant unless I absolutely had to (like a family member's birthday dinner, even then I suggest a nice dinner in). Actually, Solomon either for that matter :lol:
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • Mamacurl3Mamacurl3 Registered Users Posts: 1,559
    geeky wrote: »
    It seriously seems as though *all* other babies do this and mine is the only moody fussy one.

    It's because only the easy babies are out and about. The other fussy ones are home, puking all over their moms.

    lmbo, yep :p

    Just wanted to say that it does get better, as a Mom of two high needs babies (who are now almost 3 and 5). It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how they tick, how to make them happy, how to keep them from melting down, how to back them out of a meltdown. Mine lived in baby carriers for the first 6mos, and it wasn't until they were a bit more mobile that they started to cheer up a bit. Car rides continued to be a nightmare until 9mos or so, screaming bloody hell whether it was a 5mi trip or a 6hr drive.

    I have white noise in my kids rooms, always have (fans work well for us). Never could do the mobiles, toys, music etc, not even a night light until they were older (just this year) because even a little night light was too stimulating. I had to tape up the light on the baby monitor because that too was too stimulating! LOL

    While it's hard to do, it's extra important to stay calm...because these sensitive kids can REALLY pick up on your tension. Remember to take lots of deep breaths, learn to laugh about the craziness, vent to a friend and cry and laugh about it. Hang in there, it all gets easier (not necessarily better I guess) with each day, the more you get to know your child and the more experiences you go through with her.
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  • PrettyLady24PrettyLady24 Registered Users Posts: 336
    I am so glad I found this thread. Reina seems to be going through the same thing. It's not a daily thing, but when she's at home with her dad, she just screams and screams. He gets so frustrated, but there isn't much I can do from work. He doesn't have the time to hold her all day, especially days like today when he has to go to work for 7pm. It's nice to hear that it doesn't last forever.

    We partially cosleep, I say partial because she starts out in her bed and then when I nurse she comes to ours. I am trying to work on her nap schedule, because she seems to be more irritable when she doesn't sleep well.

    Her major issue this weekend was gas. I don't know what to do about though. I haven't eaten anything strange and she still woke up Friday night screaming bloody murder. She gets so fussy that she won't eat or sleep, which in turn makes her more fussy. Tonight and tomorrow night I'm flying solo, because DH is working, so wish me luck. I have to get ready for tomorrow and try to get some sleep to have her a daycare and myself at work on time.
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  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    I am trying to work on her nap schedule, because she seems to be more irritable when she doesn't sleep well.

    Something that's really helped with both my boys a few times is to keep a sleep log. Anytime I'm having trouble with their nap schedules, or during a nap transition (like when DS1 went from 2 naps to 1) I write down what time they wake, when they show signs of tiredness, what time they fall asleep and how (nursing, rocking, etc.), and so on. Also how well they sleep at night, so I know how their naps affect their nighttime sleep. Seeing it on paper helps me to figure out patterns, and then I can start working on getting them ready for sleep BEFORE they get overtired.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • deezee02deezee02 Registered Users Posts: 1,509
    I agree with tracking behavior like Pixie mentioned. I also allow both my kids to control naptime now. C is almost 10 months and has been a great napper from the start, but I think that is because we look at her cues to see when she is ready. She still sleeps about 18-19 hours a day. S is 3.5 and he will go go go until he crashes around 4pm and naps between 4 and 6...late yes, but he is able to stay up later since he sleeps in.
    Not trying to push a schedule is what really helped calm down the madness at our house.

    On a spirited baby/toddler, S has always kept us on our toes. I found at about 6 months with him that I would set up stations around my living room of toys and rotate him through, 10-15 mins he would get whiney and I would move him to a new activity and he would play for longer.
    We do not dine out. When we go on vacation this summer we will have a few times, but in the past 2 years we have gone out with him a total of 2 times to eat. It is just something that we realize we will have to wait on until he is older.
    We live in a world of trying to get him to comunicate, and I notice as he has gotten older and is talking more, he is able to explain him wants/needs and it is getting better...I look at it as milestones, 6 months was good, then 9 months, then a year ect...currently I am praying for 4 to get here.
    As far as calming her, I found a comfort item works wonders for S...around 6 or 7 months I gave him a certain stuffed animal for bedtime, we also have a smaller version we use in the car and in situations we know we might have issues...it calms him and now it is a sign for him to sleep...when he is tired he goes and gets his "ruff" and curls up on the couch...Just make sure you have a backup incase it gets dirty or lost so there is not hell to pay.
    Hugs hugs and more hugs. I remember the first year and it was tough with him. Everything was a challange and I felt like a bad mom...on the upside, it does make the 2's and 3's a little easier b/c we are used to the tantrums already :)

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  • dominicanadominicana Registered Users Posts: 239
    Magoo wrote: »
    My son was the same way and I admit it was so hard at times.

    "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Kurcinka (sp?) was a good book that a friend of mine gave me that helped me a lot. I cried when I read the first paragraph because it described exactly how I was feeling.

    Hang in there and try to take it one day at a time.
    We're always here to listen.

    I cried just now reading this! It is exactly what happened to me when I read this book.

    My spirited baby is 3.5 now. Things do get better, slowly, but they get better. I noticed the biggest improvement when his language skills developed. I read so many baby books, my son never fit in any of them. The only book that came close to describing him and what I was experiencing was Raising Your Spirited Child. My second child is a classic text book baby, so those do exist if you are thinking about having another one. I can't tell you how many times I cried watching the sun rise, because it meant another night of no sleep. My son never fussed and rarely smiled. He was full of extremes either screaming bloody murder or laughing hysterically. It does get better, I promise you. It may not happen at 6 months or 12 months, but it will happen.

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