Parenting a high need baby is best summarized as hard.
They want to be with you constantly, hate to be put down, can’t stand for you to be out of their sight and sleep doesn’t come easy for them.
These traits quickly leave parents feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
While there is no formula to follow to make life with a high need baby easy, there are things you can do to make life a little bit easier.
7 Tips for Thriving with a High Need Baby:
1. Accept your child as they are.
Embrace the fact that he/she is a high need baby and that there is nothing you can do to change it. For me, finally realizing that there was nothing I could do to change the situation really turned my attitude around and allowed me to focus on embracing my son, Weston, as a unique individual.
2. Ask for help.
One of my biggest regrets about the first year of Weston’s life is that I allowed myself to suffer without reaching out much and sharing my struggles with friends. I am surrounded by a community of women who would have been there for me in a heartbeat (and were the times I did ask for help or my husband asked for help for me). I wanted so much to adjust easily to having 2 children that asking for help or encouragement seemed like I was admitting that I was failing as a mother. I know that asking for more help would have made a huge difference for me.
3. Dwell on the positives, not the negatives.
When you have a high need baby, it’s easy to think about the things you can’t do or the qualities about your child that you wish you could change. Don’t let yourself think like this. Focus on the positive traits of your child. My high need baby had (and still has) the most infectious little laugh. I loved making him laugh because it brightened my day so much. Take a minute each day and write down one positive about your child. This will help you to learn to dwell on the positives daily. Having the journal filled with positive traits becomes a wonderful, encouraging tool during those really, really tough days – you can pull out that journal and read about your baby’s positive qualities.
4. Invest in a comfortable baby carrier.
In my experience, babywearing is a must with a high need baby. Weston did not want me to put him down or for me to be out of his sight. Babywearing allowed him to be with his mama at all times and it freed up my hands to give me the ability to do basic household tasks and take care of his big brother. Learn to love wearing your baby, it will make life much easier for both of you! (My favorites: Baby K’tan for newborn to 6 months and BOBA Classic Carrier for 6 months+).
5. Prioritize Sleep
You need your sleep to thrive as a parent to your high need baby. Since almost all high need babies have sleep issues, you’ll have to let go of traditional ways of thinking in regards to sleeping. Forget sleep training and scheduling, it will not work with a high need baby. If your baby sleeps well with you beside him, maybe co-sleeping is the best arrangement for your family. If baby will nap as long as you’re nursing or holding him, then forget the to do list and hold the baby. Even better, go ahead and take a nap with baby, an afternoon nap for mama makes a world of difference!
6. Read The Fussy Baby Book: Parenting Your High-Need Child From Birth to Age Five by William and Martha Sears
I found this book when Weston was around 7 months old. From the moment I started reading it, I felt encouraged. Just seeing on paper the qualities that described my child made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Reading this book was so encouraging and a wonderful resource for learning how to handle having a high needs baby. And, it gave me hope that he eventually would outgrow the high needs baby phase. I highly recommend this book if you’re parenting a high need baby.
7. Take time for yourself.
When your husband is home, don’t feel guilty for leaving occasionally. The times when I did get out for a few hours by myself gave me an extra boost of energy for the days to come. Having a break is important, it refreshes and gives you renewed energy.
These are ways I was able to go from constantly feeling overwhelmed and exhausted to being thankful for the blessing of my high need baby.
And, it’s important to note that if there is a mama you know who has a high need baby, you can play an invaluable role in helping her thrive. Offer to babysit, offer to come over and just talk with her, send her an occasional message of encouragement (via e-mail, text or snail mail), and point out the positive attributes of her child. Being surrounded by encouragers really helps make life with a high need baby a little easier.
Do you have other tips for thriving with a high need baby?
Other posts in the Parenting Your High Need Baby Series:
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