My daughter is my light. But she was a high-needs baby and spirited toddler. She screamed all the time. And she was LOUD. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she would FREAK OUT if she didn't get it. Still does, at 3.5. No one could put her to sleep but Mama. Still can't. She still cries her little self to sleep if I'm not there. It's heartbreaking. She hated the car, she hated the stroller, and after 16 months, she hated the carrier. As a toddler, she regularly had 2 - 3 hour tantrums.
I could go on.
She did have digestive issues as a baby, but the screaming continued despite this. Just not as much. So I don't believe the high-needs behaviour was caused by her digestive issues - she really is just strong-willed, and perfectly aware of where her power is. And rightly so. I also had severe PPD, so her will and her noise kept me from drifting away from her. She needed me, and I needed her. Attachment parenting her saved us both -- she wouldn't have stood for it any other way. You can't sleep train high-needs babies, they just scream louder, or puke more, or pass out.
Raising Your Spirited Child was very important for me.
And also, having my second child. He is a chill, happy baby, with similar digestive issues as DD. He is my healing baby, because he made me realize something very important: That my daughter's screaming wasn't my fault. It wasn't me. I did everything the same with my son. Everything. And he is just a different person than my daughter. She is just her own person.
IT'S NOT YOU.
She is a lively, bright, chatty three year old now. She will play on her own, sleep in her own bed, and potty-training was a breeze (because we made her believe it was her own idea). She has the vocabulary of a 6-year-old. She is extremely social, will hop on any adults lap and demand to be read a story, will make friends with any child, any age, any where. She has a vivid imagination. She is fiery and passionate, and yes, does still scream from time to time. But it's becoming rarer and rarer, partly as she matures, and partly as I have learned what helps head of the crazy before it happens.
1. Keep her from getting hungry. (She is often too busy to want to eat)
2. Help her to get enough sleep (she gave up naps at 18 months, but having a really good bedtime routine helps)
3. Have a predictable routine to help with sticky activities. (Dressing was torture, but when we had a decent routine, it became better.)
4. Keep her busy! (Boredom was the enemy for a long time)
5. Fill her cup (As in, spend lots of time with her. She has a HUGE cup. Mostly this meant giving up on some things, like housework. Don't give up Mama-time.)
And like lots of people, things got so much better when she started talking in earnest and we could communicate about a lot of things. Because she is bright she GETS it that she has to brush her teeth because otherwise she'll get cavities. Talking in earnest means when she can communicate abstract thoughts, and project ideas. When they start to develop their imagination. For DD this was 22 months, but for lots of kids it's somewhere between 2 and 3.