Friday, October 16, 2009

Babywearing and the High Needs Infant

While babywearing helps meet every baby's need to be held and every caregiver's need to get things done, babywearing can be especially helpful for high needs babies.

When my oldest daughter was born, I felt as if I was handling the shock of new parenthood quite well. Until she started screaming all day long, stopped napping, and started refusing to nurse. Gulp. The days were long, very long, with both of us in tears.

After noting that one thing I often saw suggested for unhappy babies was babywearing, I decided to try to babywear through the stress. Caroline and I would pace the apartment over and over, occasionally dancing to music, which seemed to especially calm her. And sometimes she would even nurse. Or sleep. Bliss.

Anyone who has ever had a baby with 'colic' knows that every moment of quiet brings stress in itself -- when will the crying resume? According to a 1986 study from Pediatrics, babies carried for at least 3 hours a day cried and fussed 43% less than babies who were not carried in a soft carrier -- 51% less in the evenings. For a fussy high needs baby, 43% could be whole hours of a day.

If merely walking in a carrier does not calm baby, it can be useful to take a step into the outdoors. Babies can sense stress and often times it can be difficult to avoid falling into a pattern where both child and caregiver are feeding off of each other's tension. Changes of scenery and fresh air help both caregiver and child relax.

Hold that high needs baby tight and know you're making a big difference to them on this very day by providing closeness and security through babywearing. It may feel like every moment is a lifetime while they're crying, but someday you will be able to look back and remark upon how sweet and special all the extra cuddles were -- even through the tears.

Posted by Lindsay

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