So, maybe you are a new mommy, maybe you already have children and still have found yourself here. Maybe you are a friend of a mother in need of such help as you will find here. For whatever your reason is, whoever you are, and however you are involved you are here for help, tips, direction, and the most important thing…so you don’t feel alone. It’s important to know that you are not the only mother with a high maintenance baby. And I know you are likely tired, frustrated, and just plain overwhelmed. So lets get started…
What is a High Maintenance Baby?
All babies need a lot of things, and all babies fuss. Sometimes a baby just needs to cry, but seriously…does she have to cry this much? Did I pinch her? Is she sick? There is no fever, but maybe her tummy hurts. Maybe she needs a diaper change. She is sooo tired, but so am I. Why can’t I help my baby? It wasn’t like this with the other two…have I lost my touch? Am I a bad mother? When does this maternal instinct crap kick in to help me save my sanity and make my baby’s skin go back to her normal color instead of this angry red from all the screaming and crying?
Have you been there? Maybe you’re there now. The point is you are not alone. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t be embarrassed. This is more common than you think. Let’s look at it like this, 40% of all babies born are easy going babies, 15% of all babies born are THE high maintenance babies (meaning like the definition of), and the last 45% fall smack in the middle ranging from easy to please and going to needy, needy, needy. Now, what makes a high maintenance baby? There are twelve characteristics of a high maintenance baby: Intense, Hyperactive, Draining, Feeds Frequently, Demanding, Awakens Frequently, Unsatisfied, Unpredictable, Super-Sensitive, Can’t Put Baby Down, Not A Self-Soother, Seperation Sensitive.
What does all that mean?
Intense – if you look this up in the dictionary you will learn that the definition of intense is characterized by deep or forceful feelings. In a baby this intensity is shown through crying. They need the attention, but they will not express it by a small cry or whine to get it. Instead they cry very loudly, scream so intensely more to tell you “Hey, I NEED YOU NOW!!! And you aren’t fast enough!” Each feeling a high maintenance baby exudes will be intense…a demand, not a request.
Hyperactive – Hyperactivity is a description of many children at times. Busy is another way to describe this. In a high maintenance baby their muscles are always taught and ready to go like the energizer bunny. Often these babies will not allow you to swaddle them and absolutely hate having their limbs restricted. For an infant or baby this means that being immobile is like the end of the world. You have to not just hold them, but rock, sway, bounce, or just move in general or wait for the ensuing meltdown when you stop.
Draining – Every parent gets tired, especially in the beginning months, and even more so if you are breast feeding. A high maintenance baby takes all that energy until you are at the brink, then she takes even more after that. Exhausting is just putting it lightly. She is sucking every ounce of energy out of you and using it to fill her, and we need to take a positive attitude about this. Think of this as just another part of what you give your baby to live and grow. Just as you give her food and drink, you are giving her the energy she needs to strive.
Feeds Frequently – Everyone eats for nutrition, to live, grow, have energy. We also eat for comfort, and that isn’t any different for a baby versus and adult. Babies are people too. And just as we need comfort, so does a baby. In a high maintenance baby you will find she needs more comfort than normal. You cannot schedule eating with a high maintenance baby, and feeding her will calm her. There are many cultures that feed babies as often as the baby wants, including some who will breastfeed twenty or so times a day. We are a mixed race family, and I have had the wonderful opportunity to go to Mexico and meet his family (the rest of mine), and it is common for them to celebrate and comfort with food. You are always offered food as an adult, and even more so for a child. If a child or baby is hungry there, they stop and feed them. As long as your baby is healthy, and not hurting due to feeding, let her eat. It might be what you both need to calm the crying if only just for a bit.
Demanding – I think this one is fairly self explanatory, and described with intense as well. If your baby is a high maintenance baby, she doesn’t ask or grunt, or, cry lightly. She DEMANDS it. This means if she wants up, she wants up like yesterday, and if you are just getting to her now then it wasn’t fast enough. If she wants food, you better have already prepared it before she thought of it because if not, it wasn’t fast enough either. She DEMANDS that you give her all of your attention and more, and she feels you shouldn’t think of anything else.
Awakens Frequently – Your high maintenance baby likely only sleeps for hours at a time, or maybe she only sleeps for minutes at a time. Maybe she will only sleep with you, and only in a certain way, meaning that it takes from you. It makes it almost impossible for you to get the sleep you so desperately need. From my experience with my best friend and her baby, she will not sleep without her mother, and refuses to sleep alone in any way. Her mother must sleep holding her baby, and the baby literally conforms to her mother’s shoulder making sleep a bit painful and difficult to sleep. If they are separated even a bit, the baby wakes up. If I am watching the baby for my friend, it is a bit more in depth than that, because I’m not mommy to her, so her sleeping is almost out of the question.
Unsatisfied – Again, self explanatory. Nothing you seem to do for your high maintenance baby ever really satisfies her. You’ve fed her, and maybe that was good while you were doing it but now that you’re done feeding her she isn’t satisfied anymore. Maybe she is the one that decided she was done, but she is still not happy with whatever you and she are or are not doing.
Unpredictable – This kind of baby is practically impossible to schedule because everything is unpredictable. Whatever worked five minutes ago may now agitate her, or just plain no longer works. Most people will tell you consistency is the key, and although consistency is very helpful you will find that it will not always work with your high maintenance baby. But, never give up trying.
Super-Sensitive – High maintenance babies are very aware of their surroundings. They seem to notice every little thing around them, and those little changes may bother them or even upset them. And in some cases they are the cause of a severe meltdown. This means that they will likely be very attentive to their surroundings later in their life, but for now it is like walking on eggshells.
Can’t Put Baby Down – She is just so unhappy to say the least if I put her down. Putting on music or the tv for your high maintenance baby is just not enough. Makes it even hard when you want to put her down to pee, let alone anything else.
Not a Self-Soother – A high maintenance baby has no clue how to soothe herself. And crying herself to sleep…that just doesn’t happen. It seems to make the baby worse when you lay her down alone in her cradle or crib. You have to soothe her through rocking, singing, bouncing, and this makes nap and bed times very exhausting for you because you have to work so hard just to keep her calm enough to let her allow herself to sleep. And if she is a fighter when it comes to sleep it is even more difficult, which may be often in these cases as they seem to think they will miss something.
Separation Sensitive – Any change is bad change for a high maintenance baby. Any stimulation can become overstimulation at any time for this type of baby as well. And taking mommy out of the equation leads to total melt down. This makes it hard for you as a mother to do typical daily thing like showering, cleaning, or even going out. It makes finding a baby sitter practically impossible, especially if the baby doesn’t even want to go to her father the majority of the time, how could you possibly introduce anyone else?
So, what do I do from here?
Now you have read the description of a high maintenance baby, but that hasn’t solved your problem. The question is how can you cope with it. How can you do what your baby needs and still feel like a good parent. How do you loose that feeling of being the only one with a baby that just won’t quit crying. The answers seem simple, balance, build confidence, keep calm, build support, and be patient. It may seem like the end of all things good, but that is not the case. You have a wonderful baby that is going to strive to be a very driven person, a leader even. And you can do this. One thing we like to say around my house is that if God led you to it, then God will get you through it. I will be going through things to help you through your day, including how to start off your day, positive ways to approach yourself when you’re feeling down, and things to help you learn to adapt to life with not just the high maintenance baby, but busy buggies in general. Hang in there mama, you can do this. There is nothing wrong with you or your baby.