There are times, as a parent, that life seems impossible. The house won't stay clean, the baby is crying, you haven't slept in days. Recently, I've been reading some literature on infant/child sleep patterns. Whit still struggles to self-sooth unless he is in the car and finds it difficult to sleep without a warm body close by. He demands attention and interaction and has a need to be stimulated during most of his waking hours. I should have seen this coming (and I may have contributed to the issue) as when I was carrying him we played 'footsie' nearly all day long. Anyone who saw me pregnant can attest to the fact that I was nearly always 'playing' with Whit unless he was sleeping. And then I was usually rubbing his back while he slept. This seemed to keep him calm and kept him from bruising my kidneys.
Ironically, I often receive comments on what a happy baby he is. Perhaps this is because I give into most of his demands - I 'wear' him so that he is close to my body and can easily interact with me. Now that he is getting larger I find it easier to let him ride in the cart but I still make conversation while we are shopping. Still, Whit has days when he is very sensitive, days when he needs to cuddle all day long. We have been blessed to have Nanny Kate who will also indulge Whit's needs as much as possible.
During my research I found a description that seemed to fit Whit perfectly. 'The high-needs baby'. Now, a high-needs baby is not an un-happy baby. And they do not lack the ability to self-sooth or to play alone. They just prefer not to. Especially when Mom is around. And have someone else put them to sleep at night? Don't even think about it!
Although this knowledge would have been re-assuring when Whit was much younger I'm glad that I'm just now finding it out. I was under the impression that his needs were 'normal' needs and so I did not get frustrated or treat him differently as I might have otherwise.
And as Whit grows older I know that I will continue to find reasons why I am glad that he is exactly the way he is. Whit craves physical contact. So I get hugs and kisses frequently - sometimes every 5 minutes. He's always been a champion nurser, even as he has gotten too busy to have a diaper change or sleep he still finds time to cuddle up for a meal or a snack. He prefers to sleep in our arms so Mommy, Daddy, Grams, Nana...etc. have the opportunity to hold and rock him while he sleeps. Someday Whit will be grown and I will look back at those long days and nights of snuggling with fondness. And maybe I'll have a cuddly teenager and adult son who will not hesitate to come up and give his mom a hug and kiss no matter how grown up he is.
Dr. Sears: High Needs Baby