What is a high-demand baby?

What is a high-demand baby?

High-demand baby – at LactApp, we don’t like labels, nor does anyone else as we grow up with them: the lazy one, the smart one, the grumpy one, the drama queen, and so on. But sometimes, by trying to escape from them, every description seems like a burden, far from the truth.

Often, putting a name to what happens to us makes us feel calmer and start positively enjoying or living things. In motherhood, being able to name things is extremely useful, especially when a situation catches us by surprise or when expectations do not at all match reality.

For this reason, and perhaps not in a superficial way, we can change the “is” for “is behaving like,” so we remove labels and can mention a state, an attitude, or a shorter or longer stage, always depending on the person and not the labeled individual.

Highly demanding babies

“My baby is very demanding; all the time he wants to be held, and even then, he is intense. He doesn’t stay still, he breastfeeds anxiously and wakes up many, many times. He only naps in our arms and he doesn’t last 5 minutes in a baby carrier or pram if he is awake. Sometimes, while I’m standing there bouncing him, so he doesn’t cry, if I happen to look at a message and look away from him, he starts crying again. He never seems to be content and I don’t know what to do anymore, I am desperate.”

Let’s start with the fact that all babies have a series of physiological needs that must be met, such as being cuddled, breastfed, or feeling in constant contact with their mother.

Measuring the intensity of high-demand

This cannot be measured. Much less can we compare one baby with another because each baby is unique and irreplaceable, not to mention the stages, which come and go… and come again. But there is a list of things that can make you think that you could have an extremely demanding or highly sensitive baby, which, although they are not the same concept, share several similarities.

Highly demanding babies:

  • They are always alert and never seem to relax
  • They are very intense and absorbing, with bursting feelings
  • Their demands are urgent, they can’t wait
  • They cry desperately, at full volume
  • They are difficult to comfort, and crying does not exhaust them
  • They never seem to be satisfied
  • Oversensitive
  • They can’t stand being away from you
  • They need constant physical and visual contact
  • High need for sucking (they do not usually accept pacifiers or similar)
  • Their motor skills are often early

Anyone who has some experience with a baby might think that, in reality, all children are like this.

All babies have a high demand for affection, and we agree that any baby could meet some or all of these things. Still, the difference between a highly demanding or high-needs baby and one that is not is that one is satisfied when you meet their needs for hygiene, hunger, sleep, and so on, and the other is not.

Highly demanding babies don’t stop crying just because you hold them in your arms, carry them in a baby carrier, or breastfeed them.

For a high-demand baby to be calm, you must constantly look at them in their eyes and give them the attention they require. You can’t even talk to other people or take the dishes out of the dishwasher while carrying them on your back; you must be 100% there for them. It’s a real drama, especially during the first months.

Nobody expects to adapt to such a highly intense situation. So many families go from one doctor to another to try and find an explanation such as an illness, allergy, or hunger. It’s always a good idea to consult a pediatrician when you have the instinct or the feeling that your child is not well. But when there is no explanation, there is no pathology, and your baby is still demanding these levels, it is important to have two things in mind:

  1. These babies are intense for the “bad” but also for good: this means that as they grow up if they continue with this intensity, they will also laugh a lot and kiss you a lot. Their empathy will stand out as a great virtue and their perseverance, tenacity, and sensitivity, among many other emotions or abilities that are difficult to manage as babies/children but very precious for adults.
  2. High demand is not a pathology but rather an attitude that can reveal great virtues.

What can I do to cope with a high-demand baby?

  • Try to find a parenting group to share your daily experiences with other moms, or join an online community/forum. Sharing experiences with other moms/parents is fantastic on so many levels.
  • Sign up for mothers & baby activities such as sports, yoga, play groups… whatever makes you feel comfortable and involves a relationship with your baby.
  • Get help/support: it is essential to be taken care of. The first few months are usually the most “dramatic” as the baby depends exclusively on your arms and breasts. You will need someone to cook for you, to give you a break for a long and relaxing shower, and so on. This could be someone from the family, friends, or someone professional if you can afford it and the family cannot give you the support you need.
  • Communicate a lot with your partner, if you have one. Your partner must also become aware of what it means to have a high-demand baby. If your partner works, the weekend is a good time to have them prepare food for you and give you a good massage 😉.
  • Breathe. Try to stop and take deep breaths, even when your baby has a crying crisis. Being able to give your baby to someone else arms when you are overwhelmed works very well, at least for you, so allow it.
  • Use baby carriers: remember that with high-demand babies, baby carriers don’t always work as amazingly as with other babies. But when moving or out and about, they are a great resource for you and your partner, grandparents, friends, or whoever supports you. When used on the move and outdoors. It’s the whole family’s responsibility to ensure you are both doing well, not just the baby.

In short, your baby’s temperament and character can be very different, but there is no easy parenting, and the vast majority of children require a lot of adaptation and continuous learning. Time will pass, but give yourself time to get to know your baby and let them get to know you. Allow yourself to be you as well and find your resources and those of your circumstances to gradually find the balance that you both need.

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