How to Know if Your Baby is Just Fussy or a High Needs Baby

Is your child more demanding than others their age, and are you wondering how to know if your baby is just fussy or a high needs baby? Find out if your child fits the “high needs infant” definition and learn strategies for dealing with them even though this is not a medical diagnosis.

We can all agree that raising a child is challenging, but when your newborn makes everything more challenging for you, you might start to question if there’s more to it. Problems with sleeping through the night, refusing naps, being cranky in the car, needing constant reassurance, and wanting to be held all add up to make your job incredibly challenging and taxing. Just a few examples of the characteristics of babies with high needs are listed below.

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Los Angeles-based Kaiser Permanente pediatrician Eleonora Kleyman, M.D., is helping us understand what it’s like to have a high-needs, fussy baby and the best strategies to address these overlapping challenges.

When is a newborn considered to have high needs?

As Dr. Kleyman emphasizes, a “high needs baby” is not a medical diagnostic. As the article puts it, “this is a name that parents often give to their newborns based on certain assumptions of how a baby is expected to behave, the way their other children may have behaved, or the way the babies of others behave.”

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In what ways does a high-needs infant typically present?

Dr. Kleyman explains that temperament, environment, and other factors can all contribute to why some infants exhibit more challenging behavior than others. Constant screaming, having to be held or soothed, erratic or unpredictable sleep or feeding habits, restlessness, easily overstimulated by noise or movement (preventing parents from taking their baby out), and resistance to swaddling are common symptoms of a high-needs baby.

What constitutes a high-needs baby, and how does that compare to a baby who is just fussy all the time?

To begin, a baby with high needs is not the same as a newborn that is fussy. Dr. Kleyman says that colicky newborns usually sleep and eat normally. They cry for more than three hours a day and more than three days a week for at least three weeks. Colic usually goes away by the time a baby is six months old, but high-needs behaviors can last longer.

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Is there a correlation between intelligence and having high requirements in infancy?

Temperament and IQ seem to be unrelated.

Why does a baby have to be so demanding?

Some infants are more easily upset than others. They need more reassurance and care than the average person can provide. The environment can be too stimulating for them. Therefore they need to be held and soothed.

How likely is it that a child with high needs may develop anxiety?

A high-needs infant’s likelihood of developing anxiety is, like their IQ, impossible to predict with certainty. Dr. Kleyman emphasizes the power of environment and parenting to transform a fussy infant into a contented, healthy child.

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What is the greatest way to care for a child with high needs?

Maintain as much composure as possible and ask for assistance. Being patient and optimistic is essential, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. “Try to get some rest when the baby does, eat healthily, and work out whenever you can. You won’t do any harm by being there for the infant whenever he needs you, ” Dr. Kleyman explains.

How can I help a baby in becoming less demanding?

Because no two infants are alike, it’s important to be adaptable and soothe, calm, and feed your baby however suitable.

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How can we address the challenges posed by babies with high needs?

Again, it’s crucial to pay attention to your baby’s indications and adapt to their changing requirements. Dr. Kleyman says, “Be adaptive to your baby’s requirements rather than trying to comply with an unrealistic expectation set by friends or relatives. Putting a baby in a carrier can be a great way for parents to spend quality time together while also allowing them to go about their day.”

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