High need baby
‘High need’ is a term given to babies who need more than the average amount of comforting and support. You may have been given this term by a paediatrician or you may have read about it. Or you just KNOW YOU HAVE ONE!! These babies are often born that way. As a midwife working on postnatal some babies always stood out because of how much comforting they needed. They wanted to feed like yesterday and hated being put back into their goldfish bowl cot. These babies wanted to be held 24/7. I’ve even heard doctors describe them as having FOMO or a fear of missing out!
Why are babies high need?
Often it’s a personality and temperament thing. Some babies, just like some people are go-getters and demanding whereas others are passive and happy to be given direction. Babies are born this way. Others may have reflux, colic or food allergies. These are things to observe for and before you dismiss the high need baby as just a demanding baby.
Dr. Sears gives 12 features of a High Need Baby – does this sound like your baby?
- Feeds frequently
- Wakes frequently
- Super sensitive
- Can’t put baby down
- Not a self-soother
- Separation sensitive
How do you help a high need baby?
The fourth trimester is something you should know about. A blog I’ve written about this should help you.
Basically, they need comfort and this may be in a sling or being swaddled with a blanket or two on to give security. You are looking to recreate the confines of the womb they had lived in for 9-months. A bath can be helpful to calm them as can the lazy lion position.
Keeping their environment as neutral-thermal as possible helps baby burn fewer calories. The less work they have to do to maintain a normal body temperature the better. Use one of those amazing nursery thermometers because they take the guesswork away. Refer to a chart to work out how many clothes a baby needs for the room temperature. I like a room at 16-20C and layers on the baby rather than a warm room. Layers help maintain body temperature, particular layers on their core. Wool keeps the heat in, in winter and I’m a big fan of merino wool clothing and blankets, and flannelette sheets on the cot.
Some homes are incredibly noisy with nearby construction and noisy traffic on the street. Or you may just have a noisy partner who doesn’t understand the need for quiet to help baby sleep! If this is the case white noise will be your best friend. You can use this until 6 months old and it can take away the startle from a sudden loud noise.
When I’m looking at feeding I’m looking at how well they feed, are they coming on and off the breast, are they gassy or lots of hiccups? Do they have mucousy or slimy poo? Is there a history of asthma, eczema or hayfever or food allergies in the immediate family? Has baby had a tongue tie? Is your baby’s weight gain good? If you have concerns about any of the above feeding issues it’s time to seek a second opinion. Here are a few blogs below to help you.
And last but not least, the most important thing…sleep. Without sleep, your baby will be restless and hyperalert. Babies need day naps and a baby at 0-1 month will need 6-8 hours of sleep in the day, at 2 months it’s 5-7 hours and at 3-4 months, it’s 4-5 hours a day. Babies need to put down fully awake in the bassinet or cot to self-settle. This is very important to achieve before 4-months and to avoid the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. Doing this early at 2-8 weeks rather than waiting until 4-6 months, is much less painful for everyone, especially your baby.
Massage will make a huge difference to a high need or baby with FOMO. It calms and reduces cortisol. Babies who are massaged every day go to sleep quicker and stay asleep for longer. They also feed better and gain weight quicker than babies who are not massaged. These are very compelling reasons to schedule a massage into your day. And hopefully, very soon your high need baby with FOMO will be a much happier and calmer baby who is just happy to be.