What really inspired me to make this blog in the first place was when I started googling to find out if my baby could still be considered colicky after 6 months old. That’s when I came across the term “high needs” and when I started reading more and more about it, I had that “ah-ha” moment and honestly felt so reassured and at ease. Obviously all babies are technically high needs because duh..they’re babies! However, some babies are just a wee bit needier than others.
Ever since Everett was 3 weeks old he has been extremely sensitive and emotional about anything and everything. All of our friends seemed to have “chill” babies but we knew pretty quickly he was a little different. For the first few months, we assumed he had reflux and colic. I remember spending most of my days on the phone crying to the nurses while he was crying in the background. The doctor finally prescribed us some reflux meds which did help a little so I do believe he had reflux but maybe not as bad as we originally thought. But he still was never what you would consider chill.
Even still at 1 year old old he can be set off by something so little such as a sneeze, any sudden noises, waking up from a nap, gas pains, his OWN loud toot.. literally anything. We are always walking on eggshells so that we don’t make a wrong move. And he doesn’t just get startled, he will go into a full blown meltdown that can take quite a while to calm down from. I could probably count on one hand how many days he’s gone without having a major meltdown. It can be quite exhausting, to be honest. However, through tons of reading and newly acquired patience, I have learned that each baby is so unique in their own way and they all have their own temperament. I think of a baby’s temperament on a scale from mild to extreme. His just happens to be on the latter side of that scale.
We have learned how to respond better to his meltdowns now instead of just brushing them off and trying to throw toys in his face. That just doesn’t work for him. Instead, we have started to try the “respectful parenting” approach. We will sit with him on the couch or walk around with him and try to relax with him while he cries and we have replaced saying “It’s okay. It’s no big deal” with “I’m sorry baby. I know you’re not happy about..blank. I’m here for you”. Even though he doesn’t truly understand what we’re saying, it seems to work better and it’s great practice for us in the future once he does understand us. Also, by saying these things outloud it helps to calm me as well which obviously only helps him.
After all, who are we to tell someone else that their feelings aren’t a big deal. By saying it’s not a big deal, we’re actually invalidating their feelings and down the road it could lead to them suppressing their emotions or even worse not feeling like they can confide in us as parents. I know I personally don’t love it when I’m upset and someone tells me to calm down or that I’m overreacting. It only fires me up even more. Babies are still humans with human emotions and they’re allowed to feel them and express them however they need to.
While some days can be tough living with a “high needs” baby, it has taught me so dang much about myself and other people. Because of him, I have gained so much patience and perspective. It was so easy to get frustrated in those moments but by taking this respectful approach it has even helped us become calmer during the tough times and in turn he is able to calm down faster.
Don’t let me fool you..We still have lots and lots of meltdowns. We still can get very frustrated. We’re still learning him and learning how to be the best parents we can be for him. But he will always know how much we love him and that he can find comfort and support in our arms. At the end of the day that is all that truly matters.