Detecting Early ADHD Symptoms in Infants

Your baby may cry excessively and have problems sleeping or eating. Does that mean that they may develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder later on in life?

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Symptoms of ADHD later in childhood

  • Trouble focusing
  • Impulsiveness
  • High frustration
  • Impatience
  • Forgetfulness or task avoidance
  • Disorganization

Infant attention issues that may be a precursor to ADHD symptoms

Colic babies

Babies that cry and fuss nonstop are said to be at a higher risk of developing ADHD symptoms later in childhood.

The uncontrollable fussiness that occurs for no apparent reason is known as colic. Most colic outbursts happen in the evenings. Colic may start in babies from when they are six weeks old, but it often wanes by the time they are 4 months old.

New studies show that 20 % of babies have symptoms such as continuous crying and sleeping problems in their early infancy. But these symptoms are expected to disappear by the time the child is old enough for preschool.

Interventions and treatments for fussy babies include proper feeding and soothing them with motion, sound, and pacifiers.

But babies with persistent fussiness and whose blood relatives have a history of ADHD may need early diagnosis and intervention.

When the fussiness is continually more aggressive, and their crying is more demanding with a sense of urgency, you may want to keep a close eye on them for other ADHD-like symptoms.


infant adhd
ADHD symptoms can be seen and treated in early ages of life.


Constant fatigue

Irritability and fussiness in babies may be as a result of tiredness and fatigue. Signs of fatigue in infants include sucking fingers, yawning, rubbing eyes, jerky motions, and pulling ears.

Fatigue may be a sign of sleeping and feeding problems or side effects of medication. If proper feeding and sleep scheduling does not solve the issues, talk to a pediatrician. The constant fatigue could well be a sign of infections such as the Epstein-Barr virus or illnesses such as asthma.

In some cases, persistent fatigue and restlessness in babies is a precursor for ADHD. From the onset, the baby’s young brain is impacted in its production of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. The result is reduced focus and fatigue that may happen early in the morning and the rest of the day.

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Sensory processing issues     

At a young age, children may start to show signs of challenges in tactile and social sensory processing. That relates to how they respond to touch, temperature, vibration, and social stimulations. Sensory processing issues may be a precursor to delayed development and learning disabilities.

As they grow into toddlerhood the relationship between inattention, sensory over-response, and learning disabilities may grow clearer.

From difficulties in fine motor skills and the ability to interact appropriately with others, the baby may develop into a child that seems to make careless mistakes, give up easily, or not listen to instructions.

Sensory processing anomalies may be diagnosed as a learning disability and nothing else. But a significant percentage of cases like these lead to an ADHD diagnosis.

Early impairment in sensory information processing may lead to a hypersensitive reaction to stimuli that evolves into ADHD symptoms by the time the child is four years old.

Emotional hypersensitivity

Babies get angry too, and it’s normal for them to throw tantrums if it gets them what they want. The behavior may improve as they grow older, but in some cases, this could be persistent and evolve into ADHD.

The impulsive nature of ADHD in children and adults means that if they are angry, they can’t hold it in. They must communicate it there and then.

An infant with a higher predisposition to developing ADHD may, therefore, be said to be ‘high-need’ compared to babies that don’t have a risk for the condition.


breastfeeding and adhd
Breastfeeding is healthy for the baby’s health for avoiding ADHD.


Higher activity levels

Early signs of ADHD may similarly be measured in your infant’s physical activities. Are they a sound sleeper? If they have trouble settling in or sleeping through the night, it points to the same case of ‘high need baby’ which may be an indicator of ADHD symptoms in the future.

It is the same case for babies that find it hard to relax when awake. Their muscles are always tensed, and they seem ready for action. Some of these infants will hate being swaddled or wrapped in a blanket. They flip and roll, stiffen their hands and legs and arch their backs when it’s time to hold them, breastfeed them or bathe them.

Symptoms of hyperactivity in infants may disappear as they grow into toddlers, but sometimes they lead to a diagnosis of ADHD.

Attention seeking behaviors

All babies like to be held, comforted, and nursed, but some more than others. Some of these cases, where the child drains out all your energy because all you do from dawn to dusk is make them comfortable could be an early indicator of ADHD.

These babies may have too frequent and irregular feeding habits. Breastfeeding that is supposed to be 30 or 45 minutes takes 5 minutes and becomes erratic, and unpredictable throughout the day.

From feeding the fussiness turns into something else, like the need for sleep, but the moment you lay them down and leave the room, they let out a piercing cry.

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Seen these signs in your infant?  Contact EZ Care

In most cases, ADHD is only successfully diagnosed after their preschool years. But an early and developmentally-informed clinical intervention can help to reduce the severity of the condition when it occurs.

Walk into EZ Care Clinic in San Francisco or schedule an appointment online for assistance.


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