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Surviving a high needs baby – it can be done


So your baby cries.

A lot.


Let’s be honest its rather incessant.  Its all the time, day in, day out.

So much so that your at the stage of considering wearing noise cancelling headphones to just give you a bit of a break.

Only a break from the noise because you’ll still be jiggling her but you think that possibly it might help if you didn’t have to hear her scream for just a little bit.

Because your baby won’t even consider lying down.  Your baby seems to have a sensor that is triggered if you are more than three feet away from her.  Your baby seems to need you all the time yet can’t be soothed by you.

Welcome to the club.

You are not alone.

In time life is going to get better and you will get through this.  One day you’ll realise that your baby hasn’t screamed in a while, will lie down on a mat and play on her own, will sleep in her own crib.

But to get you between here and there, here are a few tips that made my life with Babygirl, who was horribly needy, bearable.

Consider wearing headphones
It sounds crazy but it does help.  You can still hear the baby over the music but it reduces it a bit.  It takes the edge off and allows you to get a bit of a mental break.  And a bit of a break can make a huge amount of difference and if you’re more relaxed and happy there is a chance that your baby will pick up on it and be happier.

Get a sling
Babygirl literally wouldn’t let me put her down for about three months.  The only thing that kept me sane, enabled me to go to the loo, make dinner and do things with Toddlergirl was having her in a sling. At first I used a wrap sling which kept her very close and cuddled in, when she got bigger I discovered my lovely Connecta which I also found I could breastfeed in.  Its been literally a life saver.

Take any help that is offered
My parents were marvellous, every so often I’d get an invitation to lunch at theirs and they would feed me, take both babies out in the pram and send me upstairs to bed for a couple of hours.  It was wonderful and enabled me to sleep properly and deeply.  Take anything offered that might make life easier.

Consider co-sleeping
Some hate it, some love it.  For me it was the thing that enabled me to cope with Babygirl needing to feed every hour in the early days and months and months of multiple night feeds.  Read about how to do it safely and consider giving it a go.  I found that it worked for me if I wore something warm on top so the duvet was lower down than usual and Babygirl slept ontop of the duvet in her sleeping bag and I cuddled up around her with her head on my arm (warning this can mean you get a dead arm as they get bigger but it solved the where do I put this limb debate and kept her upright which helped with vomiting and discomfort).

If you have a gut feeling something else is wrong talk to the doctor
I held off for ages talking to someone about Babygirl’s sickness and discomfort because I didn’t want to be labelled as neurotic or a silly mum and because I didn’t want her medicated for reflux when I was fairly confident (having discussed it at length with my midwife) that we could get through it and knowing that the medication would be difficult to combine with breastfeeding and worse, could make bottle feeding harder.  There was a point when I should have listened to my inner voice and raised that I thought it was more than a little bit of reflux and I didn’t listen.  Fortunately my inner voice is persistent and it finally made me hear it and also find the right person to talk to.

Try baby massage
Getting into the habit of massaging Babygirl in the mornings and after her bath seemed to make a difference to her.  I’m not sure if the colic routine we followed really did much to make her tummy less uncomfortable but she seemed to enjoy it.  It also allowed me to have a time when I focused on her in a positive way, when I was able to enjoy staring into her eyes.

Keep an open mind
There were things I had previously written off as quackery or a waste of money that I’m glad I decided to give a go and see if they’d work for us.  Deciding to leave no stone unturned was a good thing to do.  Cranial osteopathy seemed to make a difference although I have no idea how it worked and it seemed incredibly gentle.  Trying cutting out different things from my diet following various old wives tales also let me realise what made things worse and to keep them to a minimum.

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10 comments to Surviving a high needs baby – it can be done

  • cartside

    >Great post, so helpful and bringing it all together. Been there too and also heard that carnial osteopathy helps – though didn't go for it then. I also found an electric side swinging swing helped – it soothed her instantly and helped establish a nap pattern.

  • Heather

    >Brilliant post! I had the same thing with my first and I found the sling and co sleeping really helped. I also wore ear plugs some times. Like you said, I could still hear her but it greatly reduced the noise and helped me stay sane.

    We bought a bouncy chair that vibrated and had the same affect as a car ride would have. Life saver! she often slept in it at night!

    Good to remember as well is that baby wont expire from crying. Putting them down in the crib for 10 mins and going somewhere where you can't hear the screaming can give you the much needed help in dealing with it all.

  • Laura

    >Great post – this IS my baby… or was as she is now 14 months old and I can barely remember her being a baby.

    We co-slept until we got the Amby Nest and then we had some freedom! I only survived through co-sleeping, slinging (thanks for links again 🙂 ) and breastfeeding her into submission.

    I am informed that the second baby won't be like this…. yeah right!

  • TheMadHouse

    >I too survived a high needs baby, Maxi was terrible, I wore headphones a lot of the time, I used a sling, we did baby massage which helped with the bonding and he also went to an oesteopath

  • It's a Mummys Life

    >Great post. Tilly had colic and I tried a charcoal remedy that was supposed to gather up all the air in her tummy and help her pass it. Might have might not have worked but trying it and many other things kept me going. We co-slept too which I loved. I did and still do wear ear plugs (mainly as husband snores) but also to just take the edge off the crying. I wear them in the car too on long journeys when I just can't comfort her. Crying babies are horrible to listen to and it's our natural instinct to pick them up and cuddle them. IT's what I did, i never left her to cry as frankly that felt wrong at a few months. Glad I didn't, but glad it's over now too. Glad things are better for you too x

  • Knackered Mother

    >What a brilliant list, I feel it should be essential reading for anyone about to have a baby so that are prepared! Just read your last post re mojo and quite jealous about the amount of action you are clearly getting x

  • TheAlice

    >This is really helpful – another post to bookmark for my unofficial online parenting blog-manual 🙂

  • Janet

    >great post – thank you – I 'wore' both babies in slings – and the second one definitely needed it – there wasa lot of howling! – we also co-slept – and it worked for us as a family. Thanks for all the tips. Another one on the way and wondering what surprises this one will bring!

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