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I need to hear

If you have a High-Needs, Super Spirited child, I would love to hear how you balance time with your Not-So-High-Needs, Not-So-Super-Spirited child. 

High-Needs:  Cedar (17 months)

I-only-THOUGHT-she-was-high-needs:  Norah (5 yrs)

I’m really struggling to help Norah with learning activities.  Honestly, I’m struggling to simply feed, snuggle, and talk with Norah.  Cedar takes a measly one hour nap.  When can I create space for art or literacy? 

Cedar is so very large.  Her spirit, that is.  She does everything loudly.  Her scream could break glass.  She is delightful.  And incredibly draining and demanding. 

I’ve tried putting Cedar in her highchair with playdoh, paints, crayons while Norah and I work.  She cannot tolerate restraint and screams until she wiggles her way out or I take her out.  When I put Norah at our dining room table to do a project, Cedar climbs Norah’s chair and becomes a destructive force. 

I’m discouraged.  I’m frankly deflated about the prospect of homeschool.  The idea seems impossible to me. 

Cedar is 17 months.  I know it is a tough phase.  Tell me what to expect, experienced mamas and papas of high-needs kids.  I need to know.  Or give me ideas to survive.

High Needs

You may have picked up from some of my posts that parenting Cedar has kicked my butt.  If Norah was high needs then Cedar is “higher needs.”  How did I manage to have two of these wee blessings?  I’m starting to wonder if I create these babies somehow through my parenting.  My friends keep telling me that the third baby is always mellow.  Well, no thanks.  I think I’ll stick with two. 

IMG_c5066Dr. Sears describes 12 characteristics of the high needs baby:

  • Intense:  these babies do not clear their throat.  They bellow.  A few times I’ve worried that Cedar might have damaged my eardrum with her screams.
  • Hyperactive:  when she is awake her breathing is rapid and she seems almost nervous.  Her legs and arms are moving and her eyes are wide.  Think baby on caffeine.
  • Draining:  check
  • Feeds frequently:  Cedar only nurses for comfort at night.  So we don’t have this one so much.  She is all business when it comes to feeding during the day.
  • Demanding:  When she needs me, there is little warning or warm-up.  There is an urgency to high needs babies.  Of course, no baby should be ignored but I cannot imagine how one would ignore a high needs one.
  • Awakens frequently:  This one is true; however, because we co-sleep, I’m skin-to-skin with her and she does not cry at night.  She settles quickly.  We manage this one quite well. 
  • Unsatisfied:  I spent the first month utterly baffled by her cries.  She was fed, dry, rested.  I didn’t realize she was particular about how things need to go.
  • Unpredictable:  Yesterday she slept for 2 hours in the swing I borrowed from a friend.  Woo-hoo!  Has it happened again?  Nope.  So far, there has been only one tried and true soother and that is the wrap.  Well, and the bathtub but we can’t spend the whole day there.  And while I can’t imagine life without the wrap, it does limit what I can get accomplished.  My back is killing me by the end of the day.  Right now, I’m sitting on a birth ball bouncing while she sleeps snuggled to me.
  •  Super-Sensitive:  “acute awareness of environment” and “like walking on eggshells.”  Yep.
  • “Can’t Put Baby Down:”  I think I’ve mentioned that a time or two.
  • Not a Self-Soother:  No way, no how.  If that were the case, she would not scream the ENTIRE trip to the grocery store.  I’ve become almost a hermit because I hate the carseat crying.  If “cry-it-out” worked on high needs babies, she would have stopped crying in the carseat by now.   
  • Separation Sensitive:  This one is absolutely the most difficult.  Except for small 5 minute increments, she rarely permits anyone else to hold her.  Even Scott has to be careful about how he looks at her because of that pesky super-sensitive trait.  It is killing Scott because he isn’t able to soothe her or even bond with her much.  Remember he was a stay-at-home daddy with Norah at this age. 

I don’t want to sound negative.  And I don’t want to dramatize my experience.  Maybe if I parented differently, I would have a different baby.  I don’t know.  I’m fortunate that I am able to stay home with her and that my wonderful husband, family, and friends have helped so much with Norah.  And since Scott was himself a stay-at-home dad with Norah, he understands when we have a messy house or the same easy dinner over and over again. 

I hope that the highest needs of this high need wee one has peaked in the so-called fourth trimester.  She will be 12 weeks on Sunday.  Will we turn a corner?  Of course we will.  Of course.  Right?  More on my thoughts on the fourth trimester later.