Thursday, 2 June 2011

Y3 - 245/365: High Needs

If someone would have told me when Ryan was a newborn that he was a "high needs" baby, I might have taken it as an insult. However, through some reading and research, I have learned that it actually pretty accurately describes Ryan and why he is and acts the way he is and does.

"High Needs" isn't considered a disability or limitation, nor is it an excuse for a child to walk all over their parent. It just means that Ryan reacts to many things with more intensity than another baby his age might. It's just a part of who he is and it means having to deal with him a little differently.

Things that identify a high-needs baby: They cry loudly, feed voraciously, laugh with gusto and protest with more force than a typical baby. These babies feel things so deeply that it causes them to react more powerfully if their feelings are disturbed. This was very apparent in Ryan from day one in addition to him wanting to be held and be close to Mommy ALL the time.

Thank goodness for the Moby Wrap!

Hyperactive/hypertonic are two more words that describe "high-needs" babies and although it doesn't mean a negative thing or that they need medication when they're older to control things, it simply means they're tensed, ready and "always on the go." It's only a term to describe them, not to label them.

One of the biggest traits that we struggle with most at home is Ryan and his "Separation Sensitivity." He is fine with his childminder, Julie. Completely content with Nan and Grandad while Mom & Dad are gone at work. And he is easily comforted by Daddy alone...when Mommy isn't in sight or in earshot. Throw Mommy's voice or face into the mix and it's all over from there because he wants nothing else! It's to the point where I can't even leave the room to go to the loo or fill up his water bottle without him having a complete meltdown!

Ultimately, this is one area that he will simply learn to outgrow. But until then, Matt and I have to do everything we can to accommodate and help to make him feel secure. This is why I have allowed him to follow me into the kitchen on a morning to make his porridge or so he can throw his nappy in the bin. Or if I need the toilet, looks like it's a group date, the pair of us anyway. I find myself going into explanation over and over, that "Mommy is just right here," when I have to pop round the corner to get the vacuum or put it back and then I have to make up for it with a HUGE distraction and theatrical entrance to get his mind off of it.

Having a "high-needs" baby can be draining and it can be really easy to get upset quickly or lose my patience with him, however, the calmer I stay, the better example I provide for him on how to stay calm on his own when he needs to be. If that means breaking into a little of this...

...then so be it.

Until then, we just go with the flow and deal with things as they come.

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