Firstly, I’d like to start out with this. I am not a doctor, I do not have a degree. I have not gone to school for anything in this, and I have no papers that make me your “professional” in this area. What I DO have to offer is that I am a mother. I have gone through this myself, and I have helped others work through this stage as well.
A high maintenance baby is a baby that is not sick, does not have colic or other possible stomach problems. She is fed, changed, and fully taken care of in the “should be happy area.” If your baby is sick, or you think that he or she may be sick or have another underlying issue ALWAYS TAKE THEM TO THE DOCTOR FIRST!
You are their mother. You know your baby well, and you will know when it is time to go to the doctor. And if you aren’t sure, taking them to their pediatrician is a good way to start. It never hurts to be sure, especially if you know a pattern has started. Meaning, you feed them and they spit up more than half of it as soon as they are done. There are many things you should be checking before assuming you have a high maintenance baby.
But, once you know that she is not sick and has no underlying issues, go back to the check list on High Maintenance Baby, and see where she fits in. If these descriptions match, then you are in the right place.
Now we know what a High maintenance baby is, the next question is…
HELP ME PLEASE!!!! Or at least that was my friend’s first question was. The next was if it was the way she was doing things. So, I’m going to tell you the same thing I told her. Welcome to MY world, Honey!!! Haha!!!
But, seriously, it has NOTHING to do with how mommy is handling things. And I do have to welcome you to the world of high maintenance baby. What you get to look forward to is a child that is burning to learn more, eager to show you how passionate they are, attentive to all the details there are in life. In the meantime…
What to do?
Let’s start with relisting the original characteristics of that high maintenance baby.
- Feeds frequently
- Awakens Frequently
- Can’t Put Baby Down
- Not a Self-Soother
- Separation Sensitive
The basic things that we take for granted are the little things that we start seeing we are missing out on at this point. Like going to the bathroom alone. But, let’s face it, you’re a mother. That isn’t going to happen. So, first thing is first, realize and understand that you have a high maintenance baby. Have your cry, your scream, or whatever you want. Then you need to come back to reality and realize that great things come from children like this. And my ever favorite saying is whatever God brings you to, he will bring you through.
However you put it, you can do this. And it is important to have this outlook. and the reasoning for this is because the baby will feed off of you. Their intensity and super sensitivity will notice your mood, and she will react to it. Like a dog that smells fear, this baby can as well. So, changing how you look at yourself alone will help. And don’t forget to laugh at things in life. Laughter is infectious.
With your high maintenance baby you will have to try new things and be adventurous on how to balance their needs, and starting with self soothing, there are many ways to do it. Each of my buggies has their own personal way to sooth themselves. And not a one of them took a chupy (pacifier). Beanie has her monkey pillow, Belly has her animal blanket, and Do sucks her thumb and twirls her hair. Specifically it must be her right thumb in her mouth, and her left index finger twists her hair, and yes, it matters. Do bug found her own soothie, Beanie was lead to hers, and Belly…that was all trial and error.
Remember, each child is different. And they all have their own ways they prefer things, and not one of them is wrong. There are many suggestions for teaching them to self sooth, get inventive, try a few out and find the perfect system (or systems) that works for you and her.
Separation sensitive also fits in with this. Experiment with potty breaks and shower times, and right down to cleaning times. Use a bouncy or a swing, then spend 5 to ten minutes doing what you need, and come back. When you come back tell her how much missed her and love her. Also, here, you can try to hand her off to other adults, like their father or other friends that are willing to help. Often, with my friend, I would go to visit and tell her to hand me that buggy so she could do something.
The other end of super sensitive is stimulation. Too much, or too little stimulation can set these buggies off. So, taking a walk in the mornings where there are few people, but plenty to look at. Use a stroller or something like it, and talk to her. Point things out and tell her what each is. Then when you walk back in that door, try to start setting a routine of eating and or napping. Whatever system works for her.
The rest is all finding what works for you, and TRYING to schedule. Most of these high maintenance buggies are so unpredictable, that scheduling is all but impossible…but that is what they need. Structure, consistency. Then, once you find THEIR schedule, you have to work around it, because changing is just something this buggy doesn’t handle well.
Especially for the mommy…
Mommies, with this introduction into this part of babies, it is important to take care of yourself as well. Getting that shower in, that extra nap. Eating what you can that is healthy and replenishing is important. Eating, especially if you are breast feeding. When the baby naps, you take a nap. I know, I know, everyone says that. But even now that my buggies are out of this stage, I often take a nap when I can. You never know when you’ll get that next bit of rest.
High maintenance babies are draining, hyperactive, and that sensitivity to everything, means that they are constantly feeding off of you and your mood even. Add in the demanding factor, and it just demands even more of you to go with this. However, you NEED to remember, it isn’t you. You are a good mommy. And hang in there.
This is the time you need to build your support group. Family, friends, anyone that is willing and able to help out in these situations. Just to give you that moment to take your shower and cook dinner. I don’t mean to run off every weekend and paint the town either. But, when you’ve reached that point where you are just too frustrated, you need to know who to talk to, and what to do next. If you need to take five, then take five. Never let yourself get over frustrated. And if you feel like you’re at the point of tears or worse, this is where you call in your back up.
Again, take five minutes. She can cry for five, while you gather yourself again. Don’t leave here there for hours or anything. And this isn’t a baby that is going to cry herself to sleep. Always make sure, if you need to set her down to go breathe and collect, make sure she is in a safe place, like her crib where she cannot hurt herself.
Also, every chance you get, savor those giggles, hugs, laughs, tickles, and all those good little play times. I promise you, one day you are going to look back and miss these days. It doesn’t seem like it now, but it surely will. They don’t stay cuddly forever. And, savoring these happy moments helps us get through what we might think is the toughest thing, at the time.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that, as tough as it may have been at times, there were just as many and even more wonderful times. So, keep your spirits up, and keep hers up as much as you can. Coo and coddle as much as you can now, because one day she will be mobile, and you won’t get as many snuggles as you did before.
Hang in there, mama. You aren’t the only one out there with a high maintenance baby. This will pass, and you can take pride in the fact that your baby will be more attentive to things as he or she grows. They’re already sponges as it is.
If you have any thoughts or tips, please leave me a comment below. I’m not a professional in the area. I only know what I have gone through personally or what I’ve helped other people closer to me go through, so any other tips and tricks are very welcome. Tell us your experiences.