High Needs Babies and Toddlers

All babies are "high needs" but some are more than others. I pretty much (happily) catered to anything Keira wanted, right away. I breastfed her, carried her, slept next to her, nonstop. I loved being attached to my little baby- it was like an extension of pregnancy, which I missed.

Things got difficult when I needed to do something that requires me to be separated from Keira- like shower, go to the bathroom, laundry, Etc. She never wanted me to put her down. She tolerated the swing (when she was a newborn), but that only lasted the first couple months. I started coming up with work-arounds, like a water friendly baby sling for the shower, once she was big enough, I wore her on my back (then I could do laundry, dishes).

I first suspected I might have a high needs baby when Keira refused to go in her stroller. I can't blame her- being worn in the Boba carrier looks pretty darn comfy. But sometimes I needed a break from babywearing, and why did everyone else's babies happily sit in their strollers for an hour, or even two? Why doesn't Keira want to go to sleep at night? Why does she wake up more often than other babies, even ones that are 9 months younger than her? All the advice of the older generation went against our relationship - "just put her in a playpen", "just put her in a stroller", "why do you have to carry her in that thing?", "don't you think she's ready to wean?". None of this aligned with my way of parenting, or what I believe Keira needs. Did all my constant cuddling her as a newborn make her too dependent? Did I do something wrong? 

I did ALOT of googling- and the term "high needs baby" kept coming up. I read through the CheckList and it seemed that Keira met most of the criteria. It was such a relief! I didn't do anything wrong! There ARE other babies like this! (In fact, I quickly recalled that my own sister wrote a similar blog post a couple years ago about her younger daughter).

Here are the characteristics of a "high needs" baby:
Feeds Frequently
Awakens Frequently
Can't Put Baby Down
Not a Self Soother 
Separation Sensitive


Another list I found helpful was:
  • Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep
  • Difficulty entertaining themselves
  • Excessive crying or fussing
  • Loud, intense crying or screaming (often for no apparent reason)
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Unpredictability
  • May be difficult or seemingly impossible to soothe
  • Demanding (may cry urgently when needs aren’t met immediately)
  • May need to be carried around constantly
  • May require movement or motion (e.g. a swing, car ride, etc.) to prevent crying
  • Reacts strongly to stimuli (both positive and negative)
  • High-energy
  • May require lots of activity/stimuli to remain entertained
  • May need the calm and familiarity of home to remain somewhat content

Here are some resources for parents of high needs babies and toddlers:

High Needs Blogger Posts-


La Leche League Advice-

Blogger Articles-


Dr Sears-

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