The Great Rewards Of Having A “Fussy” Baby

We’ve all been there.  Moms love to compare their babies to get much-needed support, advice, or just find an ally who is experiencing the ups-and-downs of being a parent.

Some parents are blessed with those oh-so-easy babies who immediately sleep through the night, take regular naps, and entertain themselves for long stretches of time.

For others, though, their experience is far different.  Their baby is fussy, needs to be held and comforted constantly, and may not nap or sleep well.  There is comfort in knowing, however, that many studies are showing these “high-need” babies may have advanced intelligence.

While raising a “high-need” baby may be frustrating and exhausting, the blessings are abundant due to how these children view the world.

Intelligent Nest reported:

Many healthy infants experience a fussy period in development from about two to ten weeks of age.   A minority of babies continue past the normal fussy weeks and remain discontent for a period of up to four months.  Many of these babies receive the medical label of colic.  And, still, a smaller minority of children will experience fussy behaviors well into late infancy and, sometimes, beyond.

The obvious first step in parenting these babies is to rule out any physical discomforts or health issues with your pediatrician.  Often colic is to blame, especially in a young infant.

But if the fussy or inconsolable behavior in your infant continues past a few months after being given a clean bill of health, it may be your baby’s personality — the very wiring of their brain fast at work.

Intelligent Nest continued:

Once physical ailments and colic have been ruled out, be open to accepting that your child’s temperament may be the primary culprit at play.

While your high-needs child might make parenting more complex, he or she is also making parenting a richer experience.  Your child possesses the unique ability to see the world in a different way than most infants.  In fact, scientists have found fairly convincing evidence that fussy babies tend to be more alert, intelligent, passionate, intuitive and empathetic than content babies.

Fussy babies have also been found to have brains that are different than easy-going babies. They have what is known as high neuroplasticity.

High neuroplasticity is just a fancy way of saying that the brain can change rapidly, causing a greater level of responsiveness in a child’s brain due to changes in homeostasis caused by varying levels of comfort, hunger, happiness or sadness for example. Therefore, this difference in wiring offers a wonderful, positive twist when properly understood.

High-need infants and toddlers respond differently to the world around them. They feel things more deeply and process stimuli in a more complex way. They tend to get more frustrated and are harder to console —they still lack general life understanding to help interpret their experiences and emotions.  

While this may be difficult for their parents, it serves us well to remember that young infants “communicate” rather than “manipulate.”  While we have all been told we will “spoil” our babies by giving them too much attention, this simply is not true.

Because these children can be unpredictable in their behavior and require more attention, they are often labeled as “difficult” or “demanding.”

But their intensity and sensitivity mean they are deeply aware of the intricacies of what is going on around them.  They process everything all at once, and this may lead to anxiety or distress which requires more comfort from their parents.

High-need infants, even older infants, and toddlers require more than other children to keep their minds at peace.  They may need to be held more or, alternately, require more stimulation than other children their age.

Some great tips for helping your high-need baby include responding to their needs immediately, baby wearing for comfort and security, switching “scenery” and playthings often, and limiting their time away from you as much as possible in the early months.

These are the children who may need to be taken to a different room or for a walk outside when they cannot calm down.  The change in the scenery of their environment helps provide the stimulation they require.

For infants who are able to sit up or walk and are interested in toys, switching toys out over a period of time will help keep them interested and calm.  Try keeping a few baskets of playthings in different areas of the house so they are given different stimuli throughout the day.

Intelligent Nest concluded:

While your high-needs child might make parenting more complex, he or she is also making parenting a richer experience.  Your child possesses the unique ability to see the world in a different way than most infants.  In fact, scientists have found fairly convincing evidence that fussy babies tend to be more alert, intelligent, passionate, intuitive and empathetic than content babies.

This uniqueness enables them to see so much more of the world, to think deeply and feel passionately.  Their thoughts and perceptions about life are beautiful and the privileged of parenting them is worth the extra tears.

“This too shall pass” is a good reminder to parents of high-need babies.  While your intense and highly sensitive child may require more attention and planning to get through the day, they will likely develop into intuitive, deeply aware children.  This type of intensity is associated with high intelligence, and will likely serve them well later on.

So enjoy the extra cuddles while you constantly hold your high-need baby.  The extra attention you give now will make them feel safe and secure, and benefit them for a lifetime.

Do you have a high-need baby?  What are your tips for balancing their unique needs?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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