Surviving the life of a "High Needs" child & parent.

Tag Archives: Restless

If you know me in my personal life or knew me pre-mother, you would be very aware that I up until having my son I led a very structured life. For 8 years I was in the military, I’ve gone through college to my Master’s degree, gotten married, purchased homes – until April of 2015 I really couldn’t have seen myself any other way. You might guess what’s coming… it’s the “I can’t be structured because children don’t allow for that post.”

As the oldest child myself you could say I previously found comfort in the stereotype of always trying to do everything the “right way”. After all, I was the example kid. Recently my mom told me that she was surprised that I was so non-structured as a parent. She said she could never have imagined me being okay with living life day to day “without a plan” so much as I did in my past and not attacking every objective with a first this, then this approach. She said, “you seem to just want to do things the easiest way” now. I laughed. Yes we were once again discussing my ability to get the Habanero out of my bed and into his own before our new arrival.

I’m not entirely lackadaisical these days, as you know it’s really hard to be when you’re a mom. Most moms are the “family organizer”. Despite that, I’m not a parent that has a evening routine with my child. I know it’s recommended, that children have structure in their day and I agree with that to a certain degree. Because the Habanero attends daycare and has a very structured schedule 5 days a week, in his time at home I don’t feel that it’s necessary to impose a schedule on him if I can help it. I might regret this in the future… maybe it’s a rookie mistake. I guess it’s important to note a disclaimer: my thoughts on this may change in the future if I think it will be beneficial to him to have more structure; for now I like to raise him with the notion that his only job is to be a kid, imagine, learn and adventure.

I’d like to teach him that your home is your sanctuary from the craziness of the rest of the world. Growing up I never felt this way, so perhaps now I’m overcompensating. In my upbringing my time at home was typically more stressful to me than my time outside of it. As a result, the second I was old enough to work I had no less than 3 jobs at any given time to keep me out of the house when I wasn’t in class. While I think having rules are important, I don’t think that doing the same thing every evening is. Nor do I understand the parents that have something to do every night of the week with all their practices, games and activities. Forcing their kids to compete, which is something they will inevitably have to do the rest of their lives as an adult – it’s not something I can subscribe to.

I believe that imposing too much structure is detrimental to a child because it goes against how they learn and live. Asking a child to behave like an adult and be asleep at the same time every night, would in my opinion, undoubtedly make the growing up experience much less enjoyable. I think that much of the non-funness of being an adult should be saved for being an adult, because failing that would contribute to a child who cannot be dynamic and have good time or sense of them self and is much too serious.


As I mentioned in my prior post, we try to avoid going out to eat as much as possible these days because the little man sees it as an invitation to act like a holy terror. Really, I should have known better… but every time we go out I hope for the best and cross my fingers that the Habanero will behave. I tend to think even though I’d like to avoid going out in public so I don’t have to deal with the hassle it’s still important for him to learn how to act in public and he’s not going to do that home.

In any case the other night we decided to throw caution to the wind and venture out for some Mexican because I didn’t feel like cooking. When you have kid, you typically get seated at restaurants well away from the other patrons and tonight was no exception. We were given a table near the only other family in the place who had two kids.

It’s always interesting to see how other parents, “parent” while you’re out in public. Before having children this is something I never would have paid any attention to, but now it’s a source of entertainment. Now, I don’t know about you but when I’m out and “people watching” I try not to be rude and stare, but I still glance over from time to time to check out what’s going on especially when there is a lot of noise going on.

Anyways, I’ve gone on long enough so I’ll try to get to the point. One of the children sitting at the table probably not much older than the Habanero was being a pill. Both of the children with the couple were girls, which I found kind of surprising because well usually it’s little boys misbehaving in public. I’ve always heard that girls are easier until they become teens, but I’m sure it depends on the kid. The family’s youngest was insisting on sitting in her parents lap while they were trying to eat, of course they were trying to pacify her and keep her quiet (she was quite vocal) while they finished their food. I took only slight notice of the commotion a few booths down out of the corner of my eye but saw parents trying to manhandle the girl to sit in her spot on the table.

When she realized she was getting nowhere she squirmed out of the seat and ran to the booth across from the family and proceeded to climb all over it like a monkey. No surface was safe until mom got up and wrangled her back to the table at which point tantrum commenced. Mom decided she had enough, and took both girls to the bathroom immediately after. Upon returning, dad got left at the table and mom took the kids to the car with her – obviously embarrassed by her kid’s behavior.

Between the tantrum and the trip the bathroom another couple wandered in and was seated across the aisle from us. Throughout the commotion our little guy was happily munching on chips and somewhat oblivious to what all had happened. The second our food arrived, it no longer became acceptable for him to sit in his high chair and he began standing up and trying to get out. For a while he was happy to sit at the booth next to dad, but that was short lived. He slid down to the nasty floor under the table and started crawling around. Dad was content to let him – but of course mom wasn’t. I picked him up, put him back in his seat and tried to get him to eat which he pretty much refused. Crying between bites of bean and rice he didn’t miss a tear.

He kept trying to stand and get out, and every time I sat him down and told him he had to wait to get up. This wasn’t an acceptable answer I guess because it just made the Habanero more vocal and he started with an all out fit. All the while, the couple across from us was watching our battle of wills – and not even inconspicuously. They were outright staring at us. I wanted to turn to them and ask if they were enjoying the show but I chose to ignore their stares and focus on the little man in hopes to try and get my point across.

You know how you can just tell what someone is thinking sometimes? This couple obviously was annoyed by our kid’s antics, he was crying and being a complete brat and you know what? I didn’t care. You could tell they were waiting for us to scoop him up and rush out of the restaurant like most parents but I wasn’t so inclined. I did find myself getting annoyed at the time it took the check to reach our table, but in the mean time I let the Habanero have his fit and tried to sternly tell him he needed to stop acting that way and he had to wait to get up. I’m not really sure what’s up with people these days but it seems like it’s almost expected that when a child is making a scene the parents are supposed to rush their child out of the situation rather than attempt to correct the problem right then and there.

Sure I was embarrassed by how my kid was acting, but I don’t think it’s right for other people to expect me to remove him so as not to disturb their meal. Maybe I’m rude for taking this stance, but I just don’t agree with reactionary parenting. It’s frustrating to be stared at, waiting for your check and having a child in all out tantrum mode but I know that in the future if my kid learns that all he has to do is act bad when he wants to get out of a situation I’ll be shooting myself in the foot. I guess that’s why I don’t understand when I see so many parents reacting to their children this way. I think this must be an American parenting tactic because it seems to fit with why American children require so much attention in comparison to others… or so I’ve read.

As if there weren’t enough perks to co-sleeping, here’s one more. Waking up with a nice warmth on the side of your back, in your hair and all over your blanket and sheets. No I was not being snuggled by the Habanero. Recently, the little guy has figured out that he can take his diaper off. The other night I was laying in bed with him, watching tv, I turned my back toward him for a minute or two and in that time he decided it would be fun to take his diaper off.

I thought maybe it was just a fluke and he wouldn’t start making a habit of it, but it seems to me that he’s replaced playing with my hair to fall asleep with fidgeting with his diaper. This means, that he will continually unstrap it until it no longer holds closed. So last night, I think he had played with it so much that it came off while he was rolling around, or when I was sleeping and he was bored he decided it would be fun to take half of it off.

This is the final straw. We are getting ready to take our summer trip during which we will be staying in hotels for 5 nights. When we get back from our trip, I will begin working with the Habanero on sleeping on his own mattress. Additionally, I’m thinking maybe this why they tell you that you should stop bottle feeding at night? Some of us have to learn things the hard way I guess…

I wanted to post today but I’m having a hard time with the mental clarity to come up with anything that might be worth reading because well, the Habanero decided to wake up about every 30 minutes last night. My husband took care of him from about 11 PM to 3 A.M. at which point he lovingly rolled the kid over to my side of the bed to take care of. Needless to say, I’m going on fumes today and it’s just been “one of those Mondays”.

No rest for the weary I will be spending my evening at my annual volunteer orientation class for a local garden center that I’ve been working at for my 3rd year. So if this post is completely incomprehensible you’ll have to forgive me but here goes.

Every time the Habanero awoke last night he was crying. I don’t know what was going on, but sleep, bottles, and extra blankets – nothing worked. The best part is that he was cranky this morning, but non-the-less in a shouting mood so I spent the entire car ride to daycare/work with him in the back shouting. He wasn’t crying, he was talking very loudly which as you may have guessed can be pretty unnerving when you are going on only a couple of hours of sleep.

The tossing and turning, crowding and uncomfortable positions had me mostly losing hope by about 4:30 A.M. that I would be getting any rest before it was time to get up. So there I laid, pretending to sleep, trying not to move so that the little man would think maybe just maybe he should roll over and try to go back to sleep again himself. No dice. At about 6 A.M. after several hours of trying to fall back asleep I was rudely interrupted in my thoughts about how much it sucks to lose sleep by the Habanero standing on my hair.

I’m pretty thrilled to get past the stage of all out hair grasping anytime the Habanero touches my hair, but he’s started this new thing where he lays, rolls and stands on it which surprisingly hurts nearly as much if not more as his infamous little death grip. This kid loves hair. I’ve thought about cutting mine all off, but I’ve been told that this does nothing to stop the follicular attacks.

Most nights I am required to offer my sacrificial strands for the reassuring hair twirling that ensues before the Habanero’s eyeballs roll to the back of his head and he conks out. If you’ve never seen a baby’s eyes do this before I can tell you that it is pretty unnerving, even now that I’m used to seeing it. Thankfully, the Habanero no longer has his casts on his feet which means at least for now, I’m no longer getting kicked in the face with them. If you’ve never been kicked in the face by a cast, it’s a pretty memorable experience you should try it some time!

After shoving the little man off my hair and back to my husband’s side of the bed and yelling about how much it hurt to have my hair stood on, we got about 5 minutes of inconsolable crying before he finally settled back down and got over the fact that I was mad at him. I know he’s too young to understand really that he was hurting me but sometimes it just doesn’t make me any less reactionary to his attacks.

At about 3:30 AM this morning my husband asked, “Why can’t he just sleep like a normal baby?” Had it not been so early I likely would have laughed at him, usually I’m the one that gets up for the morning bottle but the Habanero was so loud today that it woke him up as well. I’ve come to expect that he will wake up sometime between 3:30-4:30 AM every day wanting a bottle, so at this point I just drudge to the kitchen and make the formula without trying to get him back to sleep sans bottle.

At almost a year old, we are still losing sleep 95% of the time with our son waking up on average at least 2 or 3 times a night. In the beginning it was terrible, he would wake up in terror, like he was having the worst nightmare of his life and he’d start screaming immediately. I don’t know what an infant could possibly having a nightmare about with such limited life experiences, but none the less it happened, pretty much every nap and every evening sleep session. He would cry and act completely unhinged upon waking up. I guess you could say this is one of the reasons we’ve felt bad about trying to get him into his own bed because the first thing he looks for when he awakes is comfort from mom or dad.

Now that he’s getting older this still happens but not to the extent that it used to in that usually when he wakes up, he’s not in full terror mode and can normally be settled back to sleep with a gentle pat on the back letting him know we are right there beside him. So he goes to bed typically between 6:30 PM and 9:00 PM every day, depending on how much rest he got at daycare which as far as we can tell is not usually much at all. I think that the stimulation of being in the classroom is too much for him and I’m told by his teachers that he has to be rocked to sleep every time and then placed in his crib. I have read this is bad for babies, to change their sleep arrangement after they drift off because it’s such a disturbing way to wake up, not knowing where you are. It would be like, as an adult if you went to bed in your room and then woke up lying naked in your front yard.

Living in Colorado, the climate is very dry pretty much all year round. For a while I thought perhaps that was what was causing his to wake up – I know that since my nose is usually stuffed up I’m constantly breathing through my mouth in my sleep which means that I wake up on my own at least twice every night just to get some water in my mouth and throat. The Habanero wakes up usually around 11 PM, then again at 3:30 AM at a minimum on any given night. I’ve tried humidifiers but nothing seems to help this natural schedule of his.

To be honest, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a child to sleep for like 12 hours every night anyways without getting hungry or uncomfortable at least once. And based on his daycare reports I can honestly say he’s never getting the recommended 2.5 hours during the day. Maybe, 1.5 at best. Really the only nights he ever sleeps completely uninterrupted is when he is so sick that his little body just can’t take it anymore or he’s preparing for a growth spurt. I can count on both hands those nights since his birth.

My husband seems to be a lot less tolerant of this sleep pattern than I am. We’ve been surviving because my husband usually gets home from work at around 11:30 PM so he will handle that wake up session, and I am in charge of the morning one. So I told him, “He’s not like normal babies, that’s why he can’t sleep like one.”

We’ve survived 11 months as first time parents and soon I’ll begin planning my son’s first birthday party. As we are coming to a close on the first year and our child is preparing to transition at his daycare from the Infant to Pre-Tot room the commentary from his teachers becomes increasingly entertaining. Though the long sleep interrupted nights seem to be for the most part a thing of the past, we can’t help but wonder when we will be able to transition our little man out of our bed into his own.

You see ever since the Habanero was about 2 months old, he’s been sleeping with us. This was in part a move of desperation and self preservation – he was always getting sick with a cough or a cold ever since the first weeks we brought him home. Any parent knows how challenging it can be to soothe a child in their own bed when they can hardly breathe through their stuffy nose. And so, in the early days we transitioned from a co-sleeper on the side of the bed, to this nifty thing called a DayDreamer which allowed us to keep him in bed with us without the worry that we’d roll over onto him.

I never thought I’d be “one of those parents” who co-slept, but alas here we are… drawing close to a year and still no progress on the sleep training. I hate that term, sleep training, almost as much as this new novelty term I recently stumbled upon the “Velcro Baby” but I digress. He won’t stay asleep. He’s restless. I’m not sure if this is normal? Comforting him in my arms and offering a bottle has become an every night occurrence despite warnings about continuing to “bottle feed” at night.

Our baby has never really been a self soother. Sure he does some of the normal things like smack him self on the forehead with his forearm while trying to fall asleep, or pounding his head on our bathroom shower glass while he patiently waits for us to come out. I’d be concerned but from everything I’ve read about this behavior it’s pretty much to be expected.

Since this is my first post I’ll try and get to the point of why I’m starting this blog. It didn’t take long of searching “extra sensitive baby” to land on Dr. Sears website pages dedicated to High Needs Babies. I felt like I was reading a biography of our first year: Intense? Check. Hyperactive? Check. Draining? Absolutely. Feeds frequently? Yes. Demanding? Awakens frequently? Unsatisfied? Unpredictable? Super sensitive? Can’t put baby down? Not a self soother? Separation sensitive? CHECK, CHECK, CHECK! …Wait this isn’t normal behavior for a baby? Some will argue that all babies are these things – to them all I can say is… our child takes it to another level.

As a first timer, how was I supposed to know that none of this was normal? Well I guess if I had bought Dr. Sears’ Baby Book early on maybe I’d have recognized some of the warning signs sooner. For now, I’ll just be grateful that I finally have a name for this personality type of my baby boy. Surprisingly, there isn’t an incredible amount of information on the web, or even (I hear) in Dr. Sears’ books about this type of child. So here I am thinking, I should blog this.

Clearly I’m no expert on parenting guidance, but I thought it might be nice to share some experiences to comfort other parents with the idea that you may not have what society has fooled us into thinking is the perfect baby. You know… the one that you can put down in a crib and they fall asleep on their own after a couple of weeks of consistent sleep schedules.

We have a hard time sneaking away after the Lil Habanero drifts off to slumber land. In fact, quite often my husband and I will tell each other when the other is not home that we are “being held hostage” while he sleeps. For the longest time not only were we afraid to get up when he was sleeping, but we couldn’t leave the room because if he awoke and we weren’t in eyesight he would have a complete shit fit. He’d awaken at the slightest noise, he wouldn’t fall asleep if he wasn’t at least touching one of us physically in some way. I swear to you there were several occasions we saw this kid crack open just one eyeball to check and see if we were close by!

I’ve become so accustomed to my entire life revolving around the needs of our baby that now that’s he getting older and he at least sleeps for longer before waking up, I don’t know what to do with myself in the evenings. Realistically I only have about 3-4 hours before he wakes up again (unless I startle him with noises) but my nights now seem strangely as long as they were in the beginning with not much to do except for housework which honestly isn’t all too appealing after a day at the office and several hours of coddling. So here’s to figuring this out and commiserating along the way, parenting isn’t easy but at least we know what we are working with now!

Just for Fun :  8 Signs You May Have a High Need Baby