Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects 4 percent to 12 percent of American school-aged children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although ADHD is most commonly diagnosed after children enter school, most experts agree that the tendency to develop ADHD is already present at birth. Many parents, as well, have reported seeing signs of ADHD even before their children can walk. Not all babies who go on to develop ADHD exhibit symptoms. However, there are early signs to watch for if you suspect your infant's behavior warrants seeing a doctor or behavioral specialist.
Babies with ADHD require more attention and care than others do. They are often distressed, and uneasy to please or handle. This can involve colic or excessive inconsolable crying when no problem is apparent. Parents of ADHD babies have reported that their infants also constantly need to be held, coddled or rocked. For a parent whose job is the primary caregiver for an infant with ADHD, this can be exhausting and seemingly endless.
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Restlessness is another symptom of ADHD seen in infants. A host of problems, symptoms ranging from being unable to doze off or stay asleep and poor sleep patterns to being squirmy and less willing to be cuddled in their waking hours, are common. In addition to these behaviors, restless babies might be difficult to feed or have trouble accepting infant formulas.
Many mothers can confess that tantrums begin before their babies grow into toddlers. Infants with ADHD in particular are known to display problems with temperament. Thumping one or both of their feet, kicking and screaming aside, ADHD babies might also engage in more troubling behaviors such as excessive rocking in their cribs or baby chairs. The most distressing, however, involves them banging their heads against their cribs or other hard surfaces.
Because the symptoms of ADHD in babies often can be common behaviors with infants in general, these symptoms are more likely to continue while the same behaviors disappear in other children of the same age. Most important, talk with your doctor if these behaviors are consistent or remain as your child grows into the toddler years.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.