Monday, July 23, 2007

Highly Active Infant

So, the other search hit I noticed getting was for "highly active infant." There are few results for that search and none of them look like they would be terribly helpful for the poor parent who typed in the phrase. First, my sympathies. I'm assuming that the person that did this search was presented with a baby something like Charlie. This baby apparently never needs to sleep and if he does entertain the notion that he might need to sleep, it will only happen if you are holding him, rocking him, and standing on one foot while whistling "Dixie." This is a child who hasn't met an outlet cover he can't defeat. He would like to be with you all the time. Bouncy seats and swings can't contain this child. You will be given advice to "let him cry" and, one very difficult night, you will learn that your child can cry for upwards of 2 hours sleep for 30 and then start crying again. This is a child who would like to touch, see, examine, taste, and interact constantly. This highly active baby has 2 speeds- "on" and "fussy-please-God-just-sleep." On the up side, this child will let you know that you are the most important person in his life early and often. He will show you the wonder of ripping up a leaf, trying sweet potatoes for the first time, and, if you're lucky, be a fantastic hugger. He will be clever and inquisitive and will, eventually, sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a time. If you want to hear from another parent who is muddling through the experience, read on. Third, try some of these resources if you want actual advice...

Dr Sears calls this type of baby "high needs." Start with this article and go from there. I disagree with him on a couple of points though. I think high needs babies may need somewhat less sleep than other babies but not quite as little as he makes out. Also, I think that all babies and children benefit from routines, certainly after the "4th trimester" and that part of the behaviors he describes as "high needs" sounds a lot like Charlie when he's over tired and fighting sleep. So, I would ignore the advice about allowing your baby to have a wildly fluctuating bed time. Part of what you have to help your baby learn is how to wind down and shut off. These are not babies that know what they need so "listening" to them is sometimes not appropriate in my humble opinion.

On the issue of sleep start with The No Cry Sleep Solution and then give Ferber a go. I think co-sleeping sounds lovely in theory but if you have a highly social baby as well as highly active, it might be way to stimulating. This blog post is a great mom perspective on getting the highly active and highly social child to sleep.

The Baby Whisperer message boards are
also full of friendly moms with babies that can't slow down. These are referred to as "spirited" babies. Her EASY schedule is also rather helpful although we've found that Charlie needs to be rather sleep deprived to actually sleep so, we've modified it to give longer awake periods and shorter sleep periods (sigh...)

Finally, start a blog and vent away.

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