High demand babies: How to know if your child is one of them?

You may have heard this definition of some babies: “High Demand Baby,”, and wondered if your baby could be one of them. Luckily for many parents, which is becoming more widespread, defining their children’s behavior as normal, eleven other possible causes have been ruled out.

And it is that high-demand babies are completely normal babies, whose behavior differs greatly from what most of society considers “normal” in a baby. That is to say, in the end, it is the family environment that should know that babies like this exist, because the day that happens, no one will talk about babies in high demand, and parents will stop receiving inappropriate advice.

Until that day comes, many of us continue to spread the term to, above all, reassure parents and make them see the same thing: that their baby is normal and that this is not the case because they have done something very wrong, such as most family and friends suggest: «What you should have done was not to hold him so much », «He has the measure taken for you », «Let him cry or it will always be like this », etc.

High demand babies: How to know if your child is one of them?

How the term was born

The first person who began to talk about the fact that there were babies who, being normal, behaved in a different way than usual was the pediatrician William Sears, also the author of the term “attachment parenting” or “parenting with secure attachment», with which he showed all the fathers and mothers of the world that babies can be raised by taking great care of the bond between them and the baby.

The reason he coined the term was that his fourth daughter, Hayden, proved to be a very different child from her three siblings. They saw that they could not let go of her for a moment, that when they left her she began to cry, that breastfeeding was not only food, but a practically continuous means of comfort, and that she did not accept substitutes: only mom’s arms and chest made her calm.

How the term was born

When doubting whether she was a normal baby, they considered the option of seeing what would happen if they let her cry. It turned out that not only did she not cry less, but she cried more and more as if there were no end, and they began to call her «the Velcro girl» (in my house, for example, Miriam began to say that Jon was «her satellite», orbiting around her at all hours, day and night).

They began to understand that there are much more demanding children

Thanks to their daughter, they understood that there are babies who have more emotional needs than others and that they do not conform. That is, they need more, they know what they need, and they do everything possible and impossible to get it. So, Sears decided to close all the parenting books and chose to listen to what their daughter told them every day, and try to decipher her messages from her.

In the words of Dr. Sears:

“Hayden made us reevaluate our roles as parents . We had always thought that to carry out effective parenting constant control was necessary (…) There is supposed to be an adversarial relationship between parents and children: the baby is trying to harm you (manipulate, control), so it is better given us first”.

But they saw that assumption is not true. Babies do not try to manipulate or control; they just ask for what they need, and she did it very vehemently. This is how they decided that there was no point in trying to change her baby, but that the most logical thing was to accept her and conclude that no one better than her knew what she needed at all times:

“Our role as parents was like that of a gardener: we can’t change the color of a flower or decide the day it blooms, but we can weed and prune the plant so that it blooms more beautifully.”

High Demand Babies

And so the term “High Demand Babies” was born.

Babies that are different from the ones we all know. Yes, indeed, they are all more or less demanding… some a little, and others a lot. But high-demand babies are characterized by being very, very demanding, and also being little given to making concessions.

While many babies end up settling for an alternative, high-demand babies often don’t take no for an answer, and this raises many questions for parents (“To what extent do I have to do everything my baby says?”), and many more doubts in the environment, which even less understands that a couple does everything that their month-old baby demands of them.

And you may be wondering: “Was it necessary to create the label?”. Well, maybe not, and maybe yes. The Sears realized that very few people understood the girl’s behavior, and as I say, even fewer understood that they did nothing more than respond to her demands. That is why they considered that it necessary to catalog her way of being de Ella in some way to explain it to others.

crying baby

The labels they had in hand were not entirely defined, and they were also negative: “difficult baby”, “annoying girl”, and “excessively energetic”…, so, after years of talking with other parents of babies with similar characteristics, they ended up coining the term “High Demand Babies”.

What are high-demand babies like?

I remind you again that high-demand babies are normal babies, that they do not have a pathology (unless their crying and irritability come as a consequence of some pathology or discomfort, which must always be ruled out first), and that the label is useful, especially for parents.

Those who have a high-demand baby do not usually say that their baby is like that because people do not know what the term means and tend to think that they have some disease or psychological disorder. Either that or when it is explained to them, they end up thinking that “what a silly thing. What happens to these parents is that they expected to have a doll.”

It may be that, in many cases, some parents believe that their baby is in high demand precisely because they expect a much calmer baby, and in reality, it is not. In the end, it doesn’t matter much whether or not it meets “the characteristics”, because the most important thing, as I say, is that parents know that there are babies who are so demanding, who need a lot of love, affection, and time, who demand it, that they are normal, and that they are not like that because of them, as people often say.


In any case, I leave you below with the characteristics of a baby in high demand, according to Sears:

  • Intense: they put energy into everything they do, crying, eating, laughing, protesting. They always seem tense, and always need a little more from us.
  • hyperactive, and not in the sense of the disorder, but as a characteristic. They are children with a mind that is always attentive and restless as if continuously asking for stimuli… Those babies have to be in their arms, and with their mom or dad moving so that they are constantly receiving information from the outside.
  • Absorbent: they demand contact, affection, play, and arms, and when it seems that they have everything, they return to the charge to ask for a little more; and then a little more, and to finish, a little more.
  • They feed often: for them, eating is not just receiving food. The suction calms and reassures them, and that is why they eat frequently, even at night, when they can do so many feedings that the mothers even say that “Tonight they have not separated for a moment!”.
 characteristics of a baby in high demand
  • Demanding : When they think they need something, they ask for it yesterday. They are urgent, they do not accept denial, and they do not usually accept an alternative. Parents often say that they have the feeling of “never being on time.”
  • They wake up often, are light sleepers, and do not usually accept sleeping alone, at any time of the day. They take naps in their arms or in a baby carrier, and at night they need almost continuous contact, with multiple awakenings each night.
  • Dissatisfied: they seem to never be happy with what they have or get, and parents end up wondering “Now what?”.
  • Unpredictable:  it usually happens that when parents have already found the answers and it seems that everything is taking a course, new questions appear and those solutions no longer work. Parents end up feeling like authentic puppets of their children, and this generates doubts and confusion, realizing that they live with the sole mission of ensuring that they do not cry, do not complain, do not suffer…
  • Hypersensitive: they are easily startled by noises, which bothers them when they lose control of the environment and they can’t stand having “a pea under the mattress.” They overreact to physical and emotional discomfort, crying at the slightest annoyance.
Demanding baby
  • They need continuous contact: arms, many kinds of milk feeds, contact at night, portering … These are strategies that are often used because they do not know how to live without their mother’s body.
  • They do not calm down on their own: almost no baby indeed knows how to calm down on their own, but they are often able to fall asleep being calm or stop crying on their own if we take a while to come for whatever reason, and babies’ high demand does not. It’s as if they can’t get over it in any way and will always need a parent’s help to do so.
  • Separation sensitive: They do not accept other caregivers, and often they do not even accept the father. Mothers and fathers often explain that it is as if they were experiencing a period of endless separation anxiety, even when they are already crawling and walking, in which they would hardly consent to be without the continuous presence of their main caregiver, usually the mother.
baby crying

How do I know if my child is one of them?

Many moms and dads, hearing about high-demand babies, ask what those babies are like and how to tell if their baby is one of them. The reality is that the answer is usually simple: if you doubt, likely, your baby is not one of them, because parents who have a high-demand baby are very clear that their baby is not at all like babies. from others.

 high-demand babies

They may not know the term, perhaps no one has told them about it, and they may not even need to know what the story is about, but most parents are grateful to find that there are more babies like theirs, that they are normal, even though they are exhausted, and that they are like that because they are like that, and not because they have done something very wrong .

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