High Needs Baby - 20 Characteristics To Look Out For

High Needs Baby – 20 Characteristics To Look Out For

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
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Parenthood can be a rollercoaster ride, but some babies take it to a whole new level. You may have heard the term “high-needs baby” floating around, but what does it really mean? Well, here’s the scoop: most moms with high-needs babies don’t even realize it until they compare notes with other moms whose little ones seem content with the basics. If your little bundle of joy keeps you on your toes, with a schedule that seems to have a mind of its own and a world that changes every day, then brace yourself because you have a high-needs baby! Get ready for a unique and challenging parenting experience.

Video: 10 Signs You Have a High-needs Baby

Today, we will tell you about the signs of high-maintenance babies.

Common Characteristics of a High-needs Baby

From screaming out of nowhere to not napping at all, here are 12 tell-tale signs of a high-needs baby that you must watch out for.

1. The Baby Is Never Silent

High-needs child are never silent; they want attention, and they get it by crying or making noise. For example, if you put your baby on the floor or in the bed and go to another room for a few minutes, your baby cries loudly until you come back to the room and take him in your arms. Sometimes, he may keep crying even after you have taken him in your arms. His cries increase by the hour, day-after-day. Sometimes, you just wish you had earmuffs, but hey, they’re not going to help you for long.

2. The Baby Always Wants to Move

Stillness is not a high-needs baby’s forte. You have to cradle him in your arms or constantly take him out for walks on strollers. Such babies, if you stop for a single minute, get cranky. The best advice we can give is to buy a baby tricycle or a swing or any sort of product that gets them to move.

3. The Baby Always Wants Mommy

A high-maintenance baby may choose one parent almost always, and it’s usually the mom. Sometimes, he may ask for his dad, but the chances are rare. This means moms will have a tough time since they’ll be expected to hold their babies and keep them near all the time. Get a baby carrier to free up your hands since this phase won’t be stopping anytime soon. You can trust us on that.

The Baby Always Wants Mommy

4. The Baby Hates Overstimulation

Although high-needs babies are hyperactive, they don’t appreciate it when their environment becomes like them. What we mean is that they don’t like crowds, noisy rooms, and a lot of people smiling and greeting them. If you’re having a gathering in the house or going out to busy places, make sure to have a babysitter or someone to take care of him. Yes, the crying will be there, but it’ll be less. Try to make sure the next day is peaceful though since he’ll be craving calm after the crying and noises.

5. Sleep Times Are Chaotic

This is a clear tell-tale sign. Most normal babies have a regular sleeping schedule, and some take naps frequently, too. But no, not a high-maintenance one. Sometimes he may sleep around 5 pm to 6 pm while at other times, he may sleep at 3 am. The time when he will sleep cannot be predicted, but one thing’s for sure – when you expect him to fall asleep, he’ll stay awake and vice versa, and that’s not easy to deal with.

6. The Baby Doesn’t Accept Formula Milk

High-maintenance babies always want to be breastfed. They don’t take no for an answer, and they shove away the milk formula when you hand it to them. The breastfeeding tendency has more to do with comfort rather than hunger. Constant breastfeeding makes them feel as if they’re closer to the parent and warm and safe. It’s a basic human or an instinctive desire to feel protected. But for moms, your days are going to get more tiring on the other hand.

The Baby Doesn't Accept Formula Milk

7. The Baby Wants Stimulation

We just mentioned in the article above that high-needs babies hate stimulation, which is true, but only when it comes from the outside or is directed towards them. But when it comes to themselves, they want it. Some days your baby may want a quiet day with low ambient lighting in the house. Other days, he may want to move around, crawl room to room, or destroy those fancy baby toys you got for him.

8. The Baby Will Never Stay Alone

Your baby may also never stay alone. Even if you have to use the bathroom, he might come along. Whether you go to your fitness centre, to a friend’s house, or just grocery shopping, your little munchkin may make your life miserable unless you take him with you.

9. The Baby Doesn’t Know How to Self-Soothe

High-needs babies have higher needs when it comes to soothing themselves. Pacifiers, baby toys, and flashy and colourful stuff that you show him won’t work. The best way to soothe is the old-fashioned way with mom and dad by his side.

10. The Baby Poops Randomly

Normal babies show you signs and go red-faced right before they’re about to poop. Their bowel movements are like clockwork, but the same cannot be said for high-needs babies. They’ll soil their diapers and wet their beds without warning. If there’s one thing that’s clockwork about them – it’s their erratic pooping routines.

11. The Baby Hates to Be Swaddled

Most babies love being swaddled. It takes them back to their days inside the womb and makes them feel warm, comfy, and cosy. But high-needs babies may not like being swaddled. If you’ve tried to swaddle your baby in breezy or cosy material, you’ll notice him throwing a fuss. The best solution is to make sure the carrier has enough room for your baby to move his legs and let them dangle.

The Baby Hates to Be Swaddled

12. The Baby Cries Incessantly If His Needs Aren’t Met

This is the clearest sign you’ve got a high-needs baby. His needs take precedence over everything else in your life. And if you don’t attend to him, your life becomes a living nightmare since the cries and outbursts get louder to the point of insanity. You’ll also sometimes feel as if he’s the one in control since everything goes at his pace, from feeding and sleeping to rocking and playing.

13. Frequent Night Wakings

Forget about uninterrupted sleep because your little night owl likes to party and needs your company during those late-night hours.

14. Sensory Sensitivity

Everyday stimuli like noise, light, and touch can trigger an extreme response from your baby, leaving you in awe of their heightened senses.

15. Difficulty with Transitions

Any change in routine or environment throws your little one into a tailspin, making outings and travel an adventure in itself.

16. Strong-willed Personality

From an early age, your baby displays an unwavering determination and a fierce independence that both delights and challenges you.

17. Emotional Intensity

Your baby experiences emotions with intensity, displaying passionate expressions of joy, frustration, and everything in between.

18. Highly Alert

Your baby has an exceptional level of awareness and is always on the lookout, eagerly absorbing their surroundings with wide eyes.

19. Emotional Sensitivity

Your baby’s emotions are easily triggered, resulting in intense reactions to even minor upsets or changes in routine, requiring extra patience and understanding.

20. Difficulty Soothing

Traditional calming techniques like rocking or pacifiers may not work for your baby, requiring you to experiment with various methods to find what brings them comfort.

Don’t worry; it won’t last forever. The good news is that high-needs babies and intelligence traits are connected the more the kids mature!

How to Deal With Your High-Needs Baby?

Do you have a high-needs baby? Does he throw a tantrum all the time? Here’s how to deal with it.

1. Make Time for Yourself

Sometimes taking care of your high-needs baby may zap the energy out of you. And you won’t be able to take care of him if you don’t take care of yourself first. The best way to go about this is to take him to the areas surrounded by greenery and people. Take him for a stroll in the park and let him interact with kids while you spend a few minutes meditating or simply breathing.

2. Be a “Yes” Mom

If your baby wants a diaper change, do it without fuss. If he wants to be breastfed, do it. For a few months, agree to everything your baby wants. If you respond to your baby’s needs rather than react, they’ll get the message that you care. Wean off the “yes” responses and start saying no when it’s inappropriate. Do this when they get a few months older, though.

3. Learn to Read Cues

If your baby prefers specific foods and textures, and cries when you give him formula, analyse that. Observe him. Find out what makes him happy and what makes him throw tantrums. Be patient with the process and learn his preferences.

4. Journal Your Feelings

Once your baby falls asleep, and you get some time for yourself, journal your thoughts and feelings. Write down whatever you feel. Let everything out on paper. Try this brain-drain activity, and you’ll feel refreshed after the experience.

Journal Your Feelings

5. Hire a Babysitter

If you can find babysitters who get along with your baby, hire them. Let her take care of your munchkin a few days of the week. You deserve some time off, after all.

6. Find a Support Group

Find a support group and meet like-minded moms who are going through the same trouble. You’ll meet new people and find tips that work well for your high-needs baby.

7. Remember That Your Child Is Unique

A high-needs baby is a unique baby. Don’t compare him with the rest of the babies in the world. Treat your baby with a mindset that your little one is different, and he needs special attention and care.

8. Establish Consistent Routines

Creating predictable routines can help your baby feel secure and minimize their anxiety about what comes next.

9. Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional or therapist who specializes in infant care.

10. Embrace Babywearing

Using a baby carrier or sling can provide comfort and closeness for your baby while allowing you to have your hands free.

Putting in the time for your munchkin and attending to his needs will pay off in the long run. When the years pass by, you’ll look back and actually start missing this time.

What Are The Effects Of Being A High Needs Baby?

Being a high-needs baby can have various effects, both on the baby and the parents. Firstly, high-needs babies often require constant attention and care, which can lead to sleep deprivation and exhaustion for the parents. They may have difficulty self-soothing and may rely heavily on their caregivers for comfort. These babies may also be more prone to separation anxiety and may become easily overwhelmed in new or stimulating environments. On the bright side, high-needs babies tend to have a strong sense of connection with their caregivers and can develop deep bonds. They often grow up to be empathetic, resilient individuals. So, while it may be challenging at times, remember that being a high-needs baby is just a unique part of their personality, and with patience, understanding, and support, both the baby and the parents can thrive.


Asking questions is healthy and indicates that you want to learn. Here are some frequently asked questions by our readers.

1. What are the reasons for a baby to be high maintenance?

High-maintenance babies are more sensitive than other babies on an innate level. This causes them to cry as they crave more stimulation. One of the common reasons behind high-maintenance babies is emotional trauma during pregnancy or when the mother experienced a lot of stress prior to giving birth. The baby’s temperament is also responsible for him being high-maintenance; few babies are born with a difficult temperament.

2. Is there a difference between colicky and high-needs baby?

Yes, a colicky baby cries for more than three hours a day while a high-needs baby may cry much more than that. The sleeping pattern of a high-needs baby is erratic, too, when compared to a colicky munchkin and his behaviour is more unpredictable.

3. Do high-needs babies have anxiety on growing up?

Not really. Most parents report saying that their high-needs babies grow up to become independent and fantastic individuals. Since you’re caring for his needs constantly and giving him the love and affection a parent is meant to give, he’ll grow up feeling secure and confident.

4. Why does a high-needs baby need to constantly breastfeed?

This has more to do with the comfort aspect and the feeling of being close to you. It doesn’t mean they’re hungry because even if they’re not, they’ll still breastfeed to stay near you.

5. Do High Needs Baby Develop ADHD?

Having a high needs baby does not necessarily mean that they will develop ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). While high needs babies may display behaviors that can be challenging, such as being fussy, demanding, or having difficulty with self-regulation, it is important to understand that these characteristics alone do not indicate or predict the development of ADHD. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder with specific diagnostic criteria, and it requires a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional. So, if you have a high needs baby, take a deep breath and remember that their needs and temperament are unique, and with proper support and understanding, they can grow and thrive in their own way.

To conclude, high-needs babies just need more love and attention than the rest. Enjoy this time even if it feels hard because yes, there will be a day when you will miss it.


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2. NCT. (n.d.). Murray, I. (n.d.). The Development of Children’s Communication in the First Two Years: A Research Overview (pp. 15-20). Retrieved from https://www.nct.org.uk/sites/default/files/related_documents/Murray%20The%20development%20of%20children%C2%B9s%20communication%20in%20the%20first%20two%20years-%20a%20research%20overview%20pp%2015-20_0.pdf

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4. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Tantrums: Why they happen and how to respond. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/tantrum/art-20047845

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Also Read:

How to Make Life Easier with Newborn Baby?
Why Babies Need to be Held All The Time?
Effective Tips for Dealing With Crying Baby

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