Life with a High-Need Baby

When Cody was a newborn, he slept a lot and nursed a lot. That was pretty much all he did, and he spent the majority of his time in somebody’s arms, usually either mine or Cory’s. I didn’t consider him any more “high-need” than any other newborn baby would be. From about 2 months and on, though, he’s become a textbook high-need baby. Obviously, all babies have a lot of needs and are demanding, but there are some babies who are even more demanding than others. Dr. Sears describes a high-need baby as one who fits many of the following criteria: intense, hyperactive, draining, feeds frequently, demanding, awakens frequently, unsatisfied, unpredictable, super sensitive, can’t put baby down, not a self soother, and separation sensitive. I wouldn’t describe Cody as intense or hyperactive, but he definitely hits the mark with every other characteristic on that list.

Cody is draining, in that he takes every ounce of my energy and time. He is my job right now, and doing anything else that doesn’t include giving him my full or almost full attention is out of the question. I can’t volunteer at church right now because I can’t leave him, and I’d be too busy holding him to be of any help. I canceled my gym membership because, again, I can’t leave him. I don’t write anymore except when he’s napping, like right now. All of my activities either have to be flexible enough to be put down at a moment’s notice, so I can do them while he’s napping, or they have to include him. By the end of the day, I’m usually drained, especially mentally.

He also feeds frequently, about every hour and a half. This is the best timing for him to stay relatively in a good mood; if I wait longer than that, he gets fussy and when I do feed him, I have so much milk built up that he chokes on it and has a hard time nursing. He’s also uniquely demanding- he doesn’t just sit on my lap or play with his toys, he needs near-constant input from us. We have to change how we hold him every few minutes, change scenery, change activities, etc.

Awakens frequently is a mild way to describe his sleeping habits. Lately, for the past few weeks, he wakes up 6 to 10 (or more) times at night, and I can get him to nurse back to sleep about 75% of the time. The other times I have to put him in his swing, which thankfully works nearly every time. Even so, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep waking up so frequently!

Unsatisfied means that there are times when nothing I do or Cory does will work to calm Cody down. Sometimes it’s all we can do to just rock him while he cries in our arms, until he falls asleep or something miraculously changes. Unpredictable means that what works to keep Cody happy or get him to sleep changes frequently, and that his schedule is not very consistent. Sometimes he enjoys an activity, other times he doesn’t. Sometimes he takes a 30 minute nap in the afternoon, other times it’s 2 hours or occasionally even longer.

Cody is super-sensitive, especially after his naps and when he’s tired. Loud or unexpected noises startle him and make him cry. He is easily distracted while nursing, and may not be able to concentrate if I’m talking to somebody, or even eating a snack with noisy packaging.

Generally, he needs to be held or within arm’s reach at all times, except when he’s sleeping in his swing. He does not like being put down or left alone for more than a few minutes. He’s not a self soother who can be put to sleep in a crib; even in his swing, he often needs me or Cory to sit next to him and shush him or lay a hand on him until he’s asleep. And lastly, he’s separation sensitive, meaning he needs to be with me or near me, or Cory, almost all of the time.

I share this all with my readers not to complain, but simply to share my experiences as the mother of a high-need baby. Some people may not understand what it’s like, or they may think that we’re overly indulgent parents, but the truth is we are just being the best parents we can be to a baby who needs a lot from us. I think it’s fortunate that Cody was born to us, parents who are willing and able to meet his needs. I came into this adventure with the mindset that I would give everything I have to this baby, and so I was prepared for a high-need child. It’s still hard and tiring, but it’s the best job for me in the world. Meeting Cody’s needs fulfills me and gives me motivation and challenges me. I love it, and I wouldn’t ever trade him for an easier baby.

And on that note, when Cody’s happy, he’s the sweetest and most wonderful baby around. He’s curious, interested in his world, interactive, silly, and so much fun. I take every day with him as it comes, savoring the perfect moments and praying and thanking God for him in the hard moments. He is such a gift, and I love him more than words can express.

Plus, as Cory said the other day, “he’s so cute, I just want to rip my face off!”

Living the Dream

Lately, in the quiet moments of the day, I’m often hit with a wave of gratitude as I realize that I’m living my dream life. When I sit back and look at my life, I’m amazed at how blessed I am. God has been so unbelievably good to me, and I’m so thankful.

Crazy as it may seem, I, like most humans I’m guessing, still often forget to thank God for what he’s done in my life. Something small will go wrong and I’ll get so caught up in it that I lose my attitude of thankfulness and start to complain. My life isn’t perfect, and I don’t expect it to be without challenges, but even in those challenges I want to be thankful for everything good in my life.

Because of that, I made a “Thankful List” that I keep easily visible on my phone. I wanted to take a moment today to share it, and remind my readers to be thankful for the good things in your lives. And in the areas you’re unsatisfied, keep praying!

Here’s my list:

-I have a wonderful, responsible, sweet husband who I love and who loves me
-I have Cody, the best gift ever
-Cory, Cody, and I are alive, healthy, free, and safe
-We have a beautiful house to live in, good food to eat, instant access to clean water, electricity and plumbing, clothes we like to wear, great cars to go places
-I get to be a stay at home mom
-Cory has a job that he likes that can support us
-We have an exciting future ahead of us with more children and big plans
-We get to spend a lot of time together (Cory, Cody, and I)
-Cody sleeps, eats well, and is generally happy; he is healthy, smart, and developing well!
-We have friends and family who we love and who love us
-We have a good church
-We enjoy many things in life
-Most importantly of all, we have an amazing God who loves us, cares for us, and promises us a perfect life with him forever in Heaven!

Happy Five Months Birthday, Cody!


Cody turned five months old two days ago! How fast the time is flying…

We just moved to a new house, so things have been a little crazy around here. Cody is getting closer to crawling every day. He plays with toys now and puts everything in his mouth. His sleeping habits are somewhat inconsistent, but generally he takes three naps during the day and sleeps 10 1/2 hours at night, waking up frequently to nurse (4 times is a good night, 10+ times is a bad night). He’s starting to show more personality, and more emotions including anger and frustration. He can also be quite silly at times. His best friend is still our dog, Sky. He seems interested in watching us eat, but looks disgusted when we let him taste our food.

Cody is a very demanding baby, but he’s also a lot of fun. I’m so excited to see how he’s changing and developing with every new week!

Week 20 with Cody

Last Thursday, Cody turned 20 weeks old! At this point, I’m going to start posting updates monthly, starting with his five month post *sniffle* next week.

The beginning of this week was terrible, probably the hardest week I’ve had with him yet. He fussed constantly, would not let me put him down for even a moment, nursed fussily, and slept badly. I have no idea what was going on with him, but thankfully, it passed, and the rest of the week was pretty good. In fact, last Tuesday was pretty much a perfect day—he was in a good mood, napped really well, and even let me put him down and get some stuff done. Since then, things have been pretty average. He’s still what I would consider a particularly high-need baby. He tends to be fussy a lot of the time and needs to be held and walked around most of the time.

His naps have been getting much more predictable, though, which is really nice. He generally wakes up around 6:30 AM, then naps at 8 for an hour, at noon for an hour, and at 2:30 for two hours, then he goes to bed at 8 PM. Obviously, his schedule deviates a lot from that on a regular basis, but that’s the general idea. Nights have been a bit rough lately, though, as he’s been waking up about six times per night and sometimes won’t fall back asleep even after nursing. I’ve had to rely on the swing to put him back to sleep, which I prefer not to do at night, since I feel better with him sleeping in bed with us. The past few nights (which aren’t really part of week 20, but oh well) I’ve been experimenting with other ways to get him back to sleep, such as getting out of bed and rocking him, patting and shushing him, and turning on white noise. It seems to be helping.

Cody is getting so much more dexterous with his hands now. He loves to grab things and put them in his mouth, and he often holds his hands out in front of his face to stare at them. He’s also discovering his tongue and how to suck on it, his lips, and his fingers, rather than just gnawing. He pushed up on his arms mini-push-up-style for the first time, and kicks his legs a lot when he’s on his belly, which are some early signs of getting ready to crawl. It could still be a while, but he’s getting there! He can sit up in our laps, mostly unsupported, but he’s not quite ready to sit on his own yet.

We’ve started using sign language with him more consistently. We sign “milk,” “finished,” “mommy,” and “daddy.” Sometimes, it seems that he’s beginning to understand. For example, when I’m getting ready to feed him, I sign “milk” and he will turn and latch on right away, and when he lets go I sign “finished?” and he either smiles and wriggles around trying to sit up or he latches back on. It’s going to be fun to see how much we can communicate to each other before he even knows how to speak!

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Week 19 with Cody

Wow! The past few days have been some of the hardest with Cody because of how unhappy he’s been (for some reason unapparent to us) and how poorly he’s been sleeping. By the end of last night, I was totally mentally exhausted. But those days are technically part of week 20 of his life, since he was born on a Thursday. So, more about that in the next post!

For now, I’ll just say that the week was uneventful. We’ve been establishing more of a schedule, though it’s still very flexible. We have a morning routine and a range of time that he typically naps during the day, and some activities we do during the week. It makes the day-to-day drag a little easier to handle. I’m excited for Cody to start playing and crawling more, because right now it’s all about being held and walked around, and that can get boring real quick!

Here’s pictures of the little cutie from this week:

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