Having a baby can be such a wonderful, rewarding experience! Except when it's not. High need or not, we all love our babies. However, these extra-sensitive, passionate little babies do make life... interesting, to be sure.
Not sure if your baby is high need? Following are 8 signs you just may have a high need baby!
1. You are so sleep-deprived you hear colors.
Up until now, you may have been operating under the mistaken belief that colors were things you could only see. However, as you have become progressively sleep deprived, you may have noticed your favorites blues and reds have jumped the sensory divide and are now existing on the same level as music, voices, and of course, crying babies. This is normal.* This means you may have a high need baby.
*If the colors are saying things to you, this is not normal. This article will not help you.
2. You have mastered the gentle art of co-pooping.
You are likely familiar with co-sleeping (where baby sleeps on or attached to your body), however only true high need baby parents practice the ancient art of co-pooping.
Bathroom practices aren't, as many mistakenly assume, meant to take place in isolation. After all, if your child can't see what's happening behind that door, how is he or she to learn? And worse yet, how is he or she supposed to carry on this important tradition with his or her own kids someday?
If your child protests loudly when you attempt to practice this art alone, without them laying at your feet (or better yet, being worn in a sling while breastfeeding), understand that this is normal and to be expected; they are obviously extra sensitive to their genetic memory, passed onto them through generation after generation of co-pooping.
3. You put your baby in his crib, drowsy but awake, and he falls asleep.
Just kidding. Your typical sleep routine involves bouncing your baby on an exercise ball, in a closet, in the dark, with white noise at full volume, while sweating profusely, standing on your head, praying "Please, dear God, please let my baby sleep."
After 1-2 hours of this special bonding time with your baby, she passes out in your arms, and you're finally able to lay her down in the swing (on the highest setting -- while swaddled). After a refreshing 10-20 minute nap, she awakens and is ready to tackle her next 10-12 hour awake stretch.
4. You are on the popular "rice and water" diet.
While other breastfeeding mothers only cut out dairy, soy or onions to placate their allergic or sensitive babes, you have found an even better diet that typically results in even more dramatic weight loss. Yay!
The "white rice and water" diet, as it's come to be called among its advocates (because it consists of white rice, and water), is guaranteed to help you lose that baby weight, fast! Plus, it tastes delicious.
While the rice should be eaten plain for maximum effect, feel free to get creative with the water (e.g. you can boil it and then drink it hot, place an ice cube in it in order to cool it down, drink it straight from the tap, etc.). The possibilities are endless!
5. Co-sleeping in a BED? Lightweights!
Other families co-sleep too, but to them it means lounging around in an enormous double bed. How luxurious!
You much prefer the cozy and intimate environment of the crib. Some may call it "confining" or "suffocating," but you call it "love."
6. You regularly risk total arm paralysis rather than risk waking your baby.
One way to know if you have a high need baby is to ask yourself, "Do I find myself regularly deciding if an extended nap is worth the risk of permanent damage to the arm laying beneath my child?" If you have never asked yourself this question, you may not have a high need child.
The thing you have to realize is that getting your child to sleep comes at a cost. It isn't free. If all you have to give up over the first 730 days of your child's life is the use of one limb (you have four), is that really too much to ask?
7. You "sleep when baby sleeps."
Which is, you know, never. The good thing, however, is that as you sleep less and less, you'll find life gets really awesome. Cool things start happening, like hearing colors (also see #8).
8. You get to hear your baby, even when he's not around.
This one's cool, and something only parents of high need babies get to experience! You know how your baby cries, fusses and screams most of her waking hours? Well, even when she's (finally) asleep, you still get to hear her cries!
These cries, known as "phantom cries" may only be heard once the proper level of sleep deprivation has been reached. For best effect, ensure you don't get more than two hours of sleep at a stretch for at least six months (preferably one year).
Hopefully this post has helped you figure out whether or not you have a high need baby (and yes, "high need" is a thing!). In all seriousness, while these high need kiddos can be extremely draining for their parents, giving them the extra attention they demand now will pay off in spades as they get older!
Holly Klaassen is the founder of The Fussy Baby Site, a support site for parents of fussy, colicky and high need babies and toddlers. Visit the site to read her blog or download her free eBook, 6 Sleep Tips for High Need Babies and Toddlers.