A High Need Baby

After 10 months of baby Calvin, I’m beginning to see that he is actually not quite like other babies. He is what Dr Sears, the author of many baby books, calls a high need baby. While all babies are needy in one way or another, some bring it to a higher level. Based on his own experience and those of the parents he talked to, he identified 12 features of high need babies.

Some of these are just so totally baby Calvin.


Ever since he reach full term at 2 months, he has been one active baby. His arms and legs just can’t stop kicking. He hated being swaddled, even when he was a wee one in the hospital, he could still get his arms out of the swaddle despite the fact that he’s asleep most of the time. He doesn’t like sitting still and cuddling. I was always puzzled when I read about other mums suggesting cuddling as a quiet time activity coz this guy just wriggles like he couldn’t wait to get out. I think that was actually one of the things that made me worried that he shuns physical contact and though it might be a sign of autism.

Draining and Dissatisfied

Definitely oh-so-energy sapping. Especially in the early days, sometimes I just feel so totally pooped out from taking care of him. I think the worse part is when I’ve done all I could and he’s still one difficult and grumpy baby. It makes me feel like such an ineffectual mother. Knowing that it’s just a part of his personality was somewhat reassuring though it’s not stopping me from pulling all the stops to keep him happy =)

Awakens Frequently

Yup, still does that. At least 5-6 times a night and looks like it will continue for a while.


I remember reading one of the baby books about recording his sleep and activity time every day for a few weeks to find a schedule and there was just absolutely no pattern at all! He just eats and sleeps and plays whenever his mood strikes him. It was only recently that I started to fix his nap times and that made the days slightly more predictable.

Super sensitive

In the early days, he was very sensitive to sound. He will wake up to the slightest noise and it didn’t help that our dog loves to bark throughout the day. I had no choice but to be in the same room as him while he sleeps so I can close the door to shut off noise and to soothe him when I see him stir. It was quite painful for me during that time because I have to literally tip toe around him. He even wakes up from my mouse clicks. I’m glad that he eventually became a little less hypersensitive now. At the very least, he’s getting accustomed to the notty dog’s yapping.

The two below aren’t in Dr Sear’s list but was what another blog mentioned was common among high need babies.

Difficulty Entertaining Themselves

He gets bored easily if we’re not there to play with him. He can play alone for maybe a grand total of 5 mins (10 if we are lucky) before he tries to get our attention. He needs us to be around to interact with him together with his toys, but most of all he just likes to chat with us, crawl/ walk with our assistance and get carried around.

Loves to be around noise, people, activity

This one is a bit counter-intuitive. We were just remarking recently about how he always falls asleep so well in his stroller when we bring him out, amidst all the din and human activity. In fact, even better than when we are at home. Maybe we should bring him out more often but with the rampant Hand Foot Mouth Disease going around, that’s probably not such a great idea.

15 Sep: Let's Go Out!

Well, knowing a label to his behaviour doesn’t really exactly solve any of the problems but it puts it all in a totally different light for me. For one, I don’t feel like I’m a great failure. Once I get past that mental barrier, I find that it’s much easier for me to give him more of my time and energy without feeling resentful and sad. It’s funny what a change of perspective can do for you.


3 Responses to “A High Need Baby”

  1. Connie Says:

    This is my son exactly. He is a great (not fussy) baby when we are out as long as things are constantly changing. Tonight is the first time putting him in a swing to sleep because he would only sleep while rocking, if I stopped he woke up. I only stopped when I fell asleep, so now I need to get to sleep while he is asleep in the swing. You wrote this last year, has he changed with age?

    • miucat Says:

      He’s actually much better now. We’ve resorted to co-sleeping with him but he can fall asleep by himself since 9 months I think?
      So hang in there, his sleeping will get better as time goes by!

  2. Jayme Camp Says:

    My son is the same way as Connie’s. My oldest slept great but my youngest (6 months) sleeps like crap. Good to know it should get better 🙂

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