Tips for Coping With a High-Maintenance Baby
If you are in the throes of taking care of a high-maintenance baby, then I wish I could hop right through your computer screen and give you a great, big, hug! Boy, do I understand! And since I understand, I want to tell you how to cope with a high-maintenance baby.
Baby number 6 was a game-changer for me!
As a mother of 7 kids, I can honestly tell you that nothing was harder than raising my sixth child!
Thankfully now he has absolutely no problems and today is a healthy, smiley, sweet little 3-year-old, but let me tell you his infancy was a nightmare! He cried longer, louder, and harder than any one of our other children! I always joked that he did not fit the bill of a 6th baby! He acted more like an only child.
As a result, I did a ton of research on how to deal with a high-maintenance baby.
On top of the fact that I never slept because my baby never slept, I carried a load of mommy guilt due to all the frustration toward this baby who was
ruining running my life! (And it is not in my nature to be frustrated with my babies, but this baby was difficult!)
Even with a strong support system, there were days that I felt like I could collapse on the kitchen floor and sleep for days because I spent all of my nights awake with my high maintenance sweet little baby!
I want to encourage you through the things that I learned and let you know that you can make it through a high-maintenance baby and survive!
If you are reading this article, then more than likely you are pretty familiar with what a high-maintenance baby is. But in the case that you are just reading it because you are curious, let me define it for you! 🙂
According to Dr. Sears there are 12 features of a high-maintenance baby.
- FEEDS FREQUENTLY
- AWAKENS FREQUENTLY
- SUPER SENSITIVE
- CAN’T BE PUT DOWN
- NOT A SELF-SOOTHER
- SEPARATION SENSITIVE
My sixth baby had all 12 check marks going on! It was almost like he read the list!
And if you are in the same boat that I was I really want to encourage you that you CAN come out alive!
I did and I was even crazy enough to have another baby afterward! Thankfully, this baby is extremely mellow!
(If your baby doesn’t fall under all of the qualifications of high-maintenance, it may be that he has colic. If that’s the case here are some very helpful tips to get through!)
In any case, here are some things that I have found to really help you get through the high-maintenance phase (and it WILL get better!)
First Get a Thorough Evaluation of Your Baby
It is always a good idea to have your baby checked out to make sure that nothing is deeply wrong.
Getting a doctor’s evaluation will set your mind at ease when your baby will not soothe himself. That way, assuming you get a clean bill of health for you baby, you wont’ be questioning if something is absolutely wrong. You have enough to think about. You can get that out of your head!
It’s also a good idea in case there is something that needs to be dealt with from a medical standpoint.
As I said earlier, in the case of my child, nothing was wrong medically. And again, if it’s any encouragement to you, now he is a completely functional 3-year-old with a sweet demeanor!
Get a Good Quality Baby Carrier
Even If you have to mortgage the farm, it would still be worth it to get a good quality baby carrier! I already mentioned that my baby was a complete textbook model of a high-maintenance baby so it goes without saying that I could never put him down! But being a mommy to five other kids meant I needed to do something to free up my hands.
Check out this post to help you decide which baby carrier is best for you.
Unfortunately, my baby also decided he didn’t like Daddy either! Which made my husband feel terrible that he couldn’t help me with the baby. But hey, if you’re going to be a high-maintenance baby, you might as well be one on all points, right??!! (He didn’t like separation from me either!)
There are also some great babywearing Facebook groups that you can join to help you with any questions you might have.
Having a high maintenance baby means you are probably not getting any free time to guiltlessly spend on yourself. I had a hard time even slipping into the shower without stepping out and hearing the baby scream in my husband’s arms.
You definitely need support because more than likely, your days are long and your nights are even longer. If you have someone who you can call on for a break once in a while, it will help to rejuvenate you and make you feel like you can do this!
It’s never wrong to ask for help and in most cases is actually a great idea.
Call someone you trust and ask them (with full disclosure that you have a high maintenance baby that will probably cry while in their care – most people are MORE than willing to help! You are NOT a burden!)
Once you find someone, take a break!
Get out and take a walk. Go for a drive. Soak in the bathtub. TAKE A NAP!! I really highly recommend taking a nap! 🙂
Whatever you decide to do, you need to take a little bit of time away from the baby. During this time, try not to stress about the baby!
I know it’s easier said than done! But if you found a good support system, they aren’t going to be bothered if you baby fusses while you are away. They’ll just be glad to help and you need to let them!
Don’t Be Afraid to Co-Sleep
When done safely, co-sleeping can be an excellent solution for a high-maintenance baby.
There are tools to help you provide a safe environment for your baby to sleep with you. Check out this article for excellent tips on how to co-sleep safely.
Of course co-sleeping should never happen if you are under the influence of alcohol or strong narcotics.
Co-sleeping is a nice option for a high-maintenance baby because often times they do not like to be separated from mommy. Sometimes just knowing you are close by will help soothe your little one.
Only choose co-sleeping if you are comfortable with this decision. You don’t need to stress about anything else!
Read “The Fussy Baby Book” By, William Sears, M.D. And Martha Sears, M.D.
Dr. Sears has so much experience in dealing with fussy babies and the encouragement in this book is enough to make you let out a BIG sigh of relief!
Not only is it helpful and practical but it is nice to hear that you are not alone!
Don’t Compare Your Baby to Others’
I remember walking through the grocery store with our screaming infant as everyone stopped their carts to look at my husband and me (true story!) People make the silliest comments like, ‘Wow! He sure isn’t happy!’ as if I didn’t already know!
And I remember looking at babies who were sleeping soundly in their nice infant carriers while their moms shopped peacefully for groceries and wondering why my baby wouldn’t stop crying.
It’s hard enough to parent a high-needs baby, but if you allow yourself to fall into the comparison trap it makes it a hundred times worse.
Suddenly it seems like you are the only one who has a fussy and crying baby and everyone else’s life is just roses.
As hard as it is, don’t compare yourself to others.
At the end of the day it’s still won’t make your baby less fussy anyway!
Try Not to Get Angry
Fulfilling the needs of a never satisfied baby is maddening. I know. But try to remember that this tiny, little, sweet baby really isn’t trying to ruin your life!
When you are so tired you can’t see straight, it’s easy to let your emotions get a hold of you and feel like this is a plan of attack on your sanity!
But it’s really not.
Your baby is trying to adapt to life outside of the womb and he doesn’t know that he is causing you so much frustration and discomfort.
If you think about it from his perspective, he is trying to communicate and let you know about needs he doesn’t even know he has.
If you feel yourself getting angry, it’s always OK to put your baby down in a safe place like a crib and walk away for a minute or two. Collect your thoughts and gather your emotions and then go back to comfort your little one.
(Be sure to check out my favorite resources below. They will help you get cope with your high maintenance baby a little easier!)
Remember, This Too, Shall Pass
I know that when all you can think about is whether or not you will ever sleep again, (and I promise you will!) it is hard to ever imagine that this child who is completely controlling your life right now, will soon grow up and not be a forever-crying infant.
If you can keep the perspective that this is not how your life will end, you will feel more encouraged. Babies do grow up (and they turn into teenagers!) and before you can even imagine you will be on to the next phase of life.
Maybe someday you will even be encouraging someone else who is struggling with their own baby! But for now, just try to snuggle your baby, sit back, and relax. Being a mommy is a high calling! And you’re doing great!
Here are Some Baby Essentials That Got Me Through the High-Maintenance Baby Phase
- A GOOD QUALITY SWING
- A BABY SLEEP SACK
- A ROCK AND PLAY SLEEPER
- ARMS REACH BEDSIDE BASSINET
- SNUGGLE NEST