Help with the Fussiest, Most High Maintenance Baby on the Planet!!!!

Updated on February 28, 2012
G.T. asks from Canton, MA
20 answers

Hi all moms. I have a daughter who will be 14 mos old in a week who is so unbelievably high maintenance, hard to please, hardly ever stops fussing - and if I get 3 minutes of self play out of her a day I am lucky.
I am exhausted, exasperated, frustrated, overwhelmed - I'm a mess, and my house is a mess.
She just started sleeping through the night - but is a short sleeper, often takes short naps so I never get a break. She was one of those babies who woke 10-12 times a night for months!
My own mother hates to babysit for her, my mother in law who has FIVE children, and EIGHT grandchildren said "In all my years, I have never seen anything like it."
One of my best friends said, "She would try a saint's patience."
My husband is just as overwhelmed as I can't WAIT for him to come home from work every night.
We also have a 4 year old who I feel is not getting enough attention because our 1 yr old requires so much.
She is relentless - letting her cry does not work. She needs to be held ALL day - I am getting tendonitis in my shoulders, wrists and elbows because of it. I can no longer wear her in the baby bjorn - she is too big, and frankly I am sick of the thing, and it kills my back. I pee with her on my lap. I can't take a shower, empty the dishwasher, do laundry, anything - nothing. I eat cereal because cooking is out of the question.
She has no favorite toy, blanket, activity, etc. that I can distract her with. She is un-distractable! She just fusses and fusses and fusses AND fusses. I have brought her to the dr half a dozen times to make sure she is not sick and nope - she's not.
Any advice??!?!?!?

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answers from Minneapolis on

Have you tried having her adjusted by a chiropractor who is experienced with babies? Being out of alignment can affect her nervous system.

If that does not work, look for food allergies.

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answers from Rochester on

Well, my youngest was like this and it turned out she has Celiac disease. After putting her on a gluten free diet, it was like a whole new baby. I can't emphasize enough the change in her.

My suggestion would be to check for medical conditions. I realize some babies are just this way...and I was so sad that I thought mine was...turns out there was really a reason for her to fuss (she was miserable and in pain ALL the time) and once we got it under control, she felt so much better.

It isn't an issue of being sick...I think you need to look into medical conditions. Your daughter honestly sounds exactly like mine was...she fussed all the time, was inconsolable, had to be held around the clock, didn't sleep, etc.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I agree will all other posters, I thing your first order of business is to discuss it with your pediatrician. He should be able to say something beyond that she is not sick. A 14 month old that you can not put down without her screaming strikes me as unusual and there may well be something physical or developmental that needs to be addressed. I would not be surprised in the least if she had some sensory issues that result in her being overstimulated. If your pediatrician is not very receptive to your problems he may not be very experienced with children that have developmental issues... get a second opinion.

Next toss the baby Bjorn, she's too big for it! Get yourself a sling, wrap or carrier that will work with a large child. Personally I chose to wear my DD long past her first year and loved the Ergo - at least it will take some strain off your body while you figure things out.

Last but not least, if you can in any way afford it get a sitter for her or place her in a mom's day out program or daycare for a few hours a week to give yourself a break! Yes, she will scream at first, but if you find a GOOD, experienced sitter, they will deal with it. You sound like you have reached your limits and you need to take care of your own mental state to avoid escalating your baby's behavior. Unfortunately babies stress (and even older kids) feeds on parental stress and the more stressed out you are dealing with her the more stressed out she becomes.
So give yourself a break every now and then.

Lastly, remind yourself that she does not do this to make your life miserable. From your description this is a baby who starts fussing when she wakes up and does not stop until she goes to bed. That doesn't sound "hard to please" to me, it sounds like she is at least as miserable as you are!
Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would say you should contact and Early Childhood Intervention program and have them do an evaluation - they may find something there that you are mising - exhaustion blurs our senses and you seem overwhelmed it's time to call in reinforcements. If they see they can help they will - remember each child is different and this child may need different stragegies than the others.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi G.,

Do you have a parenting center nearby? Or a developmental pediatrician you can ask? Or a center such as (see this website) with trained specialists? It sounds as if a proper evaluation might be needed since your child is not ill and you are very concerned.

You COULD have a very fussy child, but, on the other hand it COULD be something that needs to be looked into by a specialist who does early intervention and/or an allergist, etc... to rule out any underlying concerns.

I have worked with families for years and I would hope you do look into this further. I rec that you see an occupational therapist that has the extra training in sensory integration dysfunction. If it is that, an OT can do a world of good. It was priceless once I found out what was going on with me. Unfortunately, I was an adult... I, myself, have sensory intergration dysfunction--and I never slept. I was so overly fussy and did not sleep through the night until I was 4 1/2. I would never sit and play. I had to be moving or held all the time. I just couldn't settle down. My aunts still joke that I was the worst of the 25 cousins. I was so hypersensitive and needed intervention. (See the website that Linda rec below).

I am also concerned because it sounds as if she doesn't sit and listen to simple story books or even just look at the pictures and hear you name (ex.) the animals on the page. Will she dance next to you if you put on a child's CD? Will she knock a tower of soft blocks down with you? She should be engaging in simple play (for short periods) and hearing language, too. Sit on the floor and begin playing with blocks and see if she joins you.

In the meantime, your school district can help you begiining at birth.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

You sound just like my cousin. You poor thing!!! She went through months of this. She lost all her baby weight from constantly having to hold her while bouncing on an exercise ball. She finally had enough. After mulitple dr's appt and hearing your baby is just fine, she took her to an allergist. She has done a complete flip. She found out she was allergic to legumes (which is actually in a lot of things) and a few other things. She has eliminated those things and has a whole new baby, She sleeps through the night, takes more than a 20 min nap, is independent.
Good luck to you!!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

To me that almost sounds like a physical/medical problem and not so much a behavioral one.

I never had much luck with our board-certfied ped. It took a nutritionist and an integrative MD to get to the root of my child's issues. And once we did, he really blossomed. Unfortunately we didn't start the process until he was much older than your child.

I would start to think "outside the box" and get some opinions from other health care providers.

I might also research/inquire about occupational therapy - is it possible that she has a form of sensory processing disorder? It just sounds like she is not integrating all the stimuli around her very well. That's just my "mom" idea - I would check with qualified people on that.

In my experience the more "unloveable" a child is behaving, the more that child needs something.

JMO, and I wish you lots of luck figuring this out.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that you get an evaluation done. She could have sensory and developmental issues that cause her to have needs that you're unaware of and thus unable to meet.

I would start with her pediatrician who will likely recommend a developmental pediatrician who will arrange for several different evaluations by specific experts.

Or you could go thru the school district. Federal law requires that school districts evaluate and provide treatment for any condition that will prevent a child from having success in school. The law requires this to be done starting from birth. Call the school district and ask for the office who does the evaluations. In my area the office is called Intermediate Education Service District. In other areas it's called Early Intervention. There are other names too.

Evaluation and treatment thru the school district is paid by the Feds. And health insurance will frequently pay for medical intervention as well. ie developmental pediatrician and specialists.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsfield on

I was thinking the same thing as Angela S.- maybe a sensory processing disorder? Here is an infant/toddler symptom checklist along with a bunch of information:

If that is what her problem is, an occupational therapist specially trained in SPD can help a LOT.

Hope it helps!!
Hang in there!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

My second was like this. At a certain point I just went about my business and let her follow me around fussing and crying. She was/is the exact opposite personality from her older sister so I was floored as to what to do.
In hindsight I think she was more physical than verbal and in a house full of fast talkers she was really frustrated. She just grew out of it as soon as she started to really talk around 21/2-3 years.
She is now a straight A student, great athlete and fun, sweet kid. Your daughter will grow out of it, help her to channel her energy into positive stuff. Let her fuss and cry if you have to get things done. At 14 months your job is not to "comfort" away every whimper. Just clearly tell her Mom has to do the dishes or whatever and then try to not let the fussing get to you too much.
I totally relate to waiting for Dad to come home, at times I called my husband in tears becuase I couldn't take anymore and I am NOT a big cryer. It is overwhelming and frustrating, we went through the "no one wants to babysit' thing too which just makes it worse.
Take heart, she'll grow out of it and if she's anything like mine she'll use all that determination and focus for great things in the future!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

We're baby trainers from a long line of baby trainers in a family of over 50+ cousins-all baby trained who now train their babies.

Not all babies need training. Some sleep enough, learn to be content without constant support from mom, all on their own. Some learn it with mild coaching and gentle boundaries. Like my older two. Some need discipline. Like my third.

Yes, your daughter is a tough one, and yes she is too old for the chest carrier. She is too old to be held just because she screams if you set her down. She has been getting away with this way too long. A child is WELL PAST the attachment reasons for constant holding at about 9 months. Some say 6 months. She needs to learn to be secure in the fact that you RETURN from ABSENCES (bathroom, cooking, whatever) and that you will not be swayed by her fits.

My daughter (third) was throwing deliberate angry tantrums for not getting her way, not being picked up, slapping me in the face angrily and screaming if I stopped to talk to someone while holding her etc etc etc starting at 6 months (though she was always a fussy baby-but I could tell it was getting deliberate at 6 months). She angrily freaked out and screamed EVERY TIME we went on an errand, and my husband travels all the time, I HAVE to take all my kids everywhere. I held off training until 9 months hoping it would "improve" Needless to say it was getting worse by the day, and my mom's husband (father of ten whose kids each have around 10 kids) also commented that she was "just about as tough as they come and very rebellious". Yup. At 6 months.

Anyway, starting at 9 months I actually did begin DILIGENT CONSISTENT discipline and consequences, and if you want a book about it let me know. She started seeing the light and behaving around 15 months and now at 2 1/2 she's better than most 2 year olds, and no one would ever know she was born stone cold crazy. But even if you don't want to DISCIPLINE this behavior (screaming at you if you put her down when you know she's medically fine) at the VERY LEAST, you have to stop giving in and holding her while you pee. At her age, she has you trained, and it's not good for her and it will get worse.

The less boundaries you give her, the more frantic she will get and the more she'll push you to outer limits in search of some security. I NEVER advocate ignoring, and I would absolutely discipline a tantrum EVERY TIME rather than ignore it, but MAYBE, just MAYBE if you weather the screaming, she'll give up. But don't count on it. I think she needs to be taught effectively not to throw fits if you want to keep your sanity. Most of my cousins with enormous broods have at least one like this, if not 2 or 3. They can learn to behave well, but it takes work. Let me know if you want the book.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My middle child was exactly like this! Even my sister, who LOVES babies was dumbfounded by my boy!

The sling (that you wear) was my life savor, as well as the swing and running the vacuum outside his bedroom when I put him down for a nap...something about the constant background noise was calming for him, sometimes?!

~Just do your best and don't be afraid to strap her in her carseat (where you know she is safe) and put her on the bathroom floor while you shower...I know the crying in the background is so NOT calming but I *needed* the break every once in awhile and just sitting or standing in the shower, even while he was crying in the background :( was a much needed break once in awhile!

As long as you know there is nothing physically wrong with her do not be afraid to put her on a blanket on the floor w/all her toys surrounding her and let her fuss while you do something else...she will be OK for a while!

Have you tried stripping her down to her diaper and clearing a spot on the kitchen floor and giving her a bowl of warm water and some wooden spoons and measuring cups to play with? My lil' guy liked this a little bit...and I always used it as a good start to mopping my floor and could care less about the mess he was making as long as it kept him happy for a bit!

Oh! And sometimes just taking him outside for a quick walk down the street helped when nothing else would...something about the fresh air and different things for him to look at would put a stop to the crying for a minute?!

I do not envy you and I know EXACTLY where you are coming from...please take comfort from someone who has been there: It does get better, I promise!!! My 'difficult' child was a totally different child by age 3 then he was from birth til 3 years old!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm sorry I have no experience with this except that my daughter didn't sleep more than 3-4hours in a row until she was 2. Found out years later that she had a case of reflux that was making her miserable once she laid down.

My first thought upon reading your post was there might be something in her diet that she's allergic to and she's uncomfortable. At that age, the only comfort might be to have you hold her? I would check with an allergist who specializes in food allergies.

Best of luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you taken her to someone other than a regular pediatrician to see if there is something a-typical that's going on? Everyone is saying that something seems not right, and she's not acting like she's ever comfortable. It could be medical - not necessarily "sick", but something not working right. Don't take a chance just assuming she's a "difficult" baby. She's too young to be pulling your chain.

EDIT: the Ergo is awesome. Easy, comfortable, and I have carried my 4 year old in it when needed.

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answers from Victoria on

I feel really really bad for you. I could not handle it. Now after having kids I see why some women go crazy and the slogan "never shake a baby" came to be. I would put my daughter in her crib once i reached to point in the middle of the night i thought i was going to shake her. I would just walk away she was safe in her crib still crying but i could calm down. I think at this age you should put her in her room or play pin if she is not crawling out of it and leave her there for ten mins at first allowing her to scream cry throw a fit about it. i would stop holding her while you go to the bath room dont allow her in there she will eventually get the picture. sure she is little and dosent understand but its up to yo uto teach her. she will understand as she grows. i would also start taking her to a mothers day out program or gym something for you to get a break and allow her to be exposed to new people and different situations. as long as she is really really really not sick. ear plugs are she dose not need to be held all day but she wants to be held all day. just tell her no and let her have a fit. she will get over it and learn at the same time. its not hurting her to not be held. but its hurting you to hold her all the time and her too..she is depending on you to hold her when its not nessissary.

I really think you need an old school grandmother to come help you and show you how to handle her so you dont have to hold her all the time.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You just gave me a wicked flashback to my first child. Of course she was my first and since none of my friends had kids at the time I just figured that all babies were that way! First comfort yourself in knowing that she WILL grow out of it and probably soon. I agree with other comments that you should have her checked out thoroughly and if your ped isn't doing so take her to someone else. That will give you peace of mind. With that said, my first (now 5) has no developmental issues. She was just more sensitive, fussy and clingy. My second was much more independent right from the start and at age 3 she hardly needs me anymore!! My first is independent and adventurous now however she is still the one who wants to cuddle Mommy and do everything with Mommy - even dishes! I often felt as you do. I didn't have family near by and none of my friends had kids - they were all at my old workplace all day and my husband worked long hours. I would be so frazzled at the end of the day and then have a long night of interrupted sleep ahead of me. Thankfully mine was first so I just had her. She took the shortest naps and fussed all the time. I finally discovered that she was much happier outside the house and she would fall asleep in the stroller well after she turned 1. So every day I put her in the stroller and walked and walked so I could get some quiet time without her on my back! I would spend hours in the back yard with her and I on a blanket. No I didn't get house work done but oh well! It was more relaxing and refreshing for both of us! I also found she loved to play with water. So to get dinner done I would put bowls and spoons at the sink and let her stand on a stool and play in the water. But honestly the main thing I had to do was just accept that she was going to cry and fuss when I had to get something done. And I just did the bare minimum. I ended up bringing a maid in once a month to do a through cleaning and I just cleaned the bathrooms and vacuumed/dusted only once a week when hubby was home to entertain baby. The kitchen/laundry of course had to be done every day but everything else was just left to rot! Dinner was almost always in a crockpot and I would make tons extra and freeze it or it was leftovers the next night. I had to really simplify what I was doing! When she reached 6 mos old I really needed a break so when hubby came home he would watch her for an hour while I left the God forsaken house and went to the gym! It was such a blessing! And she would scream the WHOLE time! My poor husband!! But he understood I just needed one hour without that noise so he powered through with the patience of a saint. I never felt I could leave her with a sitter because I was sure anyone who didn't love her as much as me would shake her for sure! At about 1 year old I finally could leave her in the church daycare to go to service and for a Mom's morning out program. She fussed at first but grew to love it there. I also did MOPS which really helped! Look for one near you and join! I also loved doing Stroller Strides. Find some little ways to give yourself a break! MOPS has scholarships if money is an issue and Stroller Strides is rather inexpensive. You an also look into babysitting co-ops for a short break. And just know that it will get better and probably soon. So have her checked, let some things go, give yourself short breaks, and keep focused on the fact that it will pass soon. And most of all make sure you join some kind of mom's group to give yourself some support and her a chance to interact with others. Good luck! Sorry this is the longest post ever but I just really feel your pain. :)

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answers from Chicago on

has she been checked for any mental disabilities? is she at the regular milestone things? does she play in your lap? if all of those things are regular and have been checked I would put her in a child proofed room or playpen / area with some toys and a gate across the door and let her scream. she fusses and fusses because she knows eventually she will get picked up and she does. let her scream it out. she will eventually grow out of it. or she will be like the little girl in the willy wonka movie saying "I want it now daddyyyyy"

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answers from Phoenix on

I feel for you. My first was a "velcro baby" and none of my 3 slept through the night until past age 2 (my youngest is 25 months and just started sleeping through some nights--yeah!). I highly recommend carrying her in a backpack a few hours a day. I had an Angel Pack tat worked great for my toddlers and didn't hurt my back. I hear Ergo Baby is good too. I grocery shopped, cleaned house, cooked and even evoked nap time for them in this carrier. Now all 3 are adventuresome, well adjusted kids who don't have to be with me all the time. I read The Fussy Baby book by Dr. Sears to give me encouragement. There's a lot of mom's like you and me that gave birth to high need babies...and survived! Nurse Midwife Mom

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answers from Milwaukee on

I agree with the PPers but I wanted to reiterate the Ergo carrier. They way it's made makes the baby's weight sit on your hips, not your back or shoulders so it is much much more comfortable than a Bjorn. You can put her on your back and go about your day.

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answers from Boston on

I have one of these myself! Wear her in a sling or carrier, they need the closeness of mom more than other kids. Dr. Sears has a fussy baby book that is amazing(also he calls these types of babies "high needs", they demand more from us for sure! Remember she is also highly sensitive as well, so stransition, not being with mom etc are very scary and stressful for them. Also google Spirited Children and raising your spirited child by Mary kurzinka is the best book. I know it can be draining. it is very helpful if you learn to adapt to this type of personality and temperament, and learn some ways of helping her grow up to be a healthy and strong individual. Good luck!

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