What to Expect When Your Baby Is Not Who You Expected Him to Be: 5 Strategies for Parenting a High Needs Baby
You can never be quite sure of who this tiny human is going to be after he or she emerges from your womb.
We often expect an image like this one (Artist: Brenda Burke). Mom and baby awash in the sweetness of new motherhood. You picture the days snuggling away in quiet and coos, with only occasional crying.
The reality is usually different. The vast majority of us have to soothe an intensely crying baby at more than one point. Everything can be difficult to navigate when you are sleep deprived, and your postpartum hormones are in full swing.
However, if you have a baby who seems to have a more than usually intense personality, and a higher than normal demand for all things Mother, you may have a high needs baby.
That said, there are a lot of simple tools that can be helpful when you find yourself facing a high needs baby. Here are five good starting places:
1. Get help yesterday. My top advice would be to hire a postpartum doula, who will be able to assess the situation, and make good recommendations. She will know a lot of tips to help soothe your crying baby, and many postpartum doulas do overnight work, so you can get some much-needed sleep, and tackle the issues with a clearer head.
2. Relax as much as possible. (I know that sounds crazy.) I’m not talking about spa visits, necessarily. I’m talking about learning basic relaxation techniques. Remember the breathing lessons from your childbirth class? Those are life skills, and you will need them as you manage the stress of parenting a high needs baby. It can be as simple as stimulating a yawn, or putting baby in a safe place while you take a shower.
3. Learn about a baby’s normal development. I have found that this one factor can make all those mountains seem like molehills again! When you know what normal looks like, it is much easier to recognize what isn’t normal, and therefore get specific help.
4. Visit a chiropractor within baby’s first few weeks of life. Find one who specializes in care for women and their children, if possible. Many high needs babies fare better after a few adjustments, especially if their birth was very fast or very slow.
5. Learn about babywearing, which can be a lifesaver (sometimes literally). Babies who are worn, or at least held often, cry less, because their needs are met more quickly, and they have less chance to get worked up.
Now, these are very basic, ground zero strategies. These are not going to solve all your problems. They are only a springboard to get you started. Pick one, and give it a try!
What would you add? Have you had a high needs baby? What worked for you and your family? Why? Where did you turn for help?
Grace & Peace,