Childrearing

Why You Should Be Thrilled To Have A ‘Difficult’ Baby

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crying baby

Every parent wants an “easy” baby and I can’t say I blame them. I had one. Our daughter was a champion sleeper and eater with a sweet smile and easy personality. Our second child was nothing like her and we got to know the hardship that is the “difficult” baby. Actually, he was difficult for the first three years of his life and it was very hard on us. However, he is now five and a half years old and a thriving, happy kindergartner. With the benefit of hindsight and much better sleep, I can tell you- you should be thrilled to have a “difficult” baby because they can turn out to be incredible kids.

If you are currently in the trenches dealing with a difficult baby, I sympathize in a very big way. And when I say difficult, I don’t merely mean a bad sleeper. I mean a baby who seems to be satisfied by only a select few situations- namely, nursing or being held. I am not a huge believer in Dr. Sears but he coined the term “high needs baby” and it described my son perfectly. Some of the features include being demanding, draining, intense, feeding frequently and awakening frequently. His first year was the hardest year of my life and there were many times where I questioned what kind of mother I was because I felt like he was hardly ever happy. I wondered what I was doing wrong.

As it turned out, a lot of my son’s ill temper was simply because he could not communicate with us. It has gotten better every year as he’s gained more language, patience and ability to reason. Now that he is in kindergarten, I can safely say- this kid is amazing. The tantrums and frustration have given way to a highly intelligent and dare I say, calculating little guy. He is not malicious about it but he always has an angle and ALWAYS knows exactly what he wants. In fact, he is now a very easy kid because he makes no bones about what he needs from us as parents. I don’t mean toys or food (although he is clear about those things too), I mean emotional support. He is always articulate about it and lets us know where he’s at. He talks out his feelings and explains why he’s upset in a way that his older sister still struggles with. I think his high needs personality as a baby forced us to tune in to him in a way that our daughter never did. I find myself making a bigger effort with her now to know where she’s coming from because she’s not as “out there” about everything as he is.

He also has a very fun personality. My cousin calls him Regis Philbin because he sounds like a talk show host most of the time and engages everyone around him. He loves to make people laugh and he’s good at it. Of course, he’s no angel and like any 5-year old, he has his moments but there is no denying that he is a different kind of kid. Not only is he in tune with his own emotions, he is in tune with others as well and is able to hone in on things that most kids his age would overlook. That newborn intensity has evolved into a very emotionally mature child. I am proud of him daily for the things he says and the way he treats people. It is so cliche but all those tough nights when he was a baby are so totally worth it now.

All of that said, easy babies will obviously be incredible kids too (aren’t they all?) but I wrote this to give hope to all the parents of tough babies who think it will never get better. Who have convinced themselves that they will never be able to make their child happy. I remember that feeling- and it sucks. If you are struggling with an intense infant right now that is draining you physically and emotionally, hang in there. I know it’s so hard and this essay won’t magically make it better but please know- there are incredible things in store for you. I am now basking in the glow of one fantastic kid and remembering all we went through with him to get there makes it that much more rewarding.

(Image: /Shutterstock)

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