My oldest son, Red was such an easy baby. He slept through the night by four months of age and even before then he only woke up once or twice. He was very easy to soothe back to sleep when he did get up. He would nurse for a few minutes and konk right out. He didn’t cry very often and transitioned from one situation to another with ease.
Even as a toddler he was easy. He would sit on the floor and build things with blocks and Legos or look at books. To this day, he has never had a temper tantrum. Not one in 13½ years. He was so easy that I’ve said more than once, “if I ever have another child I’m going to pay for this“.
I was right.
What does the term high needs toddler or baby mean?
1. Supersensitive • High need children are very alert to changes in their environment, especially sudden ones.
2. Intense • High need children are often very energetic in everything that they do. They cry louder, laugh louder, and play harder and longer than other children.
3. In demand of constant attention • High need children want and need attention, and they will not be ignored.
4. In need of physical contact very often • High need children, especially as babies, need a lot of physical contact.
5. Constantly active • High need children are often in motion, flitting from one thing to another, hardly ever sitting down and focusing on one thing for a period of time. This should not be confused with hyperactivity; rather, it is just “high energy” manifesting itself.
6. Draining on your energy • All of that intensity and high energy can be quite draining on the parents who must stay one step ahead of their child at all times.
7. Uncuddly • Some high need children do not like to feel “bound” by cuddling or being tucked in. These are the kids who don’t like to be swaddled, don’t like to be cuddled tightly, and certainly can’t stand the car seat.
8. Unpredictable • High need children constantly surprise you with new things that seem to be designed to drive you mad. What comforted them yesterday may not work today.
9. Constantly feeding, especially nursing • High need children don’t generally fit into the 2 1/2 to 3 hour feeding routine into which most babies fall. Most want to be latched on seemingly forever.
10. Frequently waking up at night • High need children are often difficult to get to sleep in the first place, and then they will usually wake frequently during the night. Don’t expect them to start sleeping through the night by the average of 3 months, and probably not even by 6 months. While you can work with them to some extent, it may be 2 or 3 years before they totally sleep through the night.
Source: http://www.essortment.com: Identifying the High Needs Child
My life with a high needs toddler
This may sound like most babies and toddlers but it is more extreme than typical behavior. In many ways, Dub is far more tiring than Red, who has ADHD. One would think that the ADHD child would be more tiring, right?
As a baby, Dub never slept. He would cat nap during the day in a swing or bouncy seat but never for more than an hour at a time. At night? Forget it! Our nights looked like this:
- My husband would go to bed at 6:00 pm while I stayed up until 2:00 am.
- At 2:00 am I would wake my husband up so I could go to bed and he would stay up until he left for work.
- He’d work all day, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, repeat.
But he wasn’t just awake all night, he was awake and screaming most of the night. We thought that maybe he had colic but none of the other factors fit.
Around 3 months old he would finally sleep a bit but was still up 3-5 times a night to nurse. Finally, at about 18 months I needed to night wean him for my sanity. Did he then sleep through the night? No. He didn’t sleep through the night until just after his second birthday.
He started walking before his first birthday then started running and climbing soon after that. He is on the move constantly and he needs to be watched like a hawk all day long. Some days I feel like I have to stare at him from the time he gets up until the time he goes to bed or he does things like this.
He loves to cuddle, but on his terms. If he wants a hug or to sit on your lap, you’d better be ready to accommodate the little master or you’ll hear about it. Most times it’s a welcome diversion and a time chill out for a few minutes, but there are times when it isn’t always convenient to stop what I’m doing right then to sit down for a story or a cuddle.
He is ON from the second he wakes up until he crashes. He doesn’t wake up gradually either. The second he opens his eyes he starts talking or singing. There is no in between with him. He has also more or less stopped taking naps over the past month or two. Unfortunately, when he doesn’t nap we are all miserable by 6:00 pm and counting down the minutes until 8:00. He yells, whines, has tantrums, growls, refuses to eat, will change his mind on a dime, and is just generally unpleasant. When he has a nap he is a totally different child. It’s fabulous!
While Red has never had a tantrum in his life, Dub has at least one a day. It’s exhausting. My house is a pit, I don’t get to shower until mid-afternoon, I don’t have as much time as I would like to devote to the blog, and I am exhausted most days. I haven’t felt well rested in almost three years.
On the other hand, he is very smart, funny, sweet, cuddly, and very cute when he’s in a good mood. Thankfully his bad spells don’t last all day. Some days are worse than others but for the most part, he cycles in and out throughout the day so we have lots of fun, sweet, awesome moments as well.
While I adore him more than life itself, I am so glad that he wasn’t my first child. I was a single mom then and there is no way that I could parent Dub effectively without my husband. He is a huge help and very hands-on and for that, I am eternally grateful.
It’s going to be interesting to see what this stubborn, demanding, on-the-go, hilarious child will become. While now he often makes me tired, I think a lot of his high need traits will serve him well in life. If his baby and toddlerhood have been any indication, he will be outspoken, confident, funny, determined, social, and enthusiastic. He will probably go on to do great things.
Are you living with a high needs toddler? Here, let me give you a martini.