High Needs Babies

High Needs Babies. Take a breath, or two, or three. I’m sure you are exhausted! If you’re reading this, chances are you have a high needs baby yourself and you ran across the term while trying to figure out why your child was crying endlessly, never falling asleep anywhere but on you, needing constant attention, and the list goes on. That’s how I discovered the term!

My daughter didn’t act like “most babies”. Seriously, starting from when she was ONE DAY OLD in the hospital, she needed me to nurse her to sleep or she would scream nonstop. I could imagine people hearing her cry and thinking we were doing something wrong! She would NOT fall asleep in the cot, she wouldn’t take a pacifier, she hated basically everything but snuggling up with mama and nursing. We tried everything, but that girl was a ton of work. I had the doctors and nurses check on her several times, but she was perfectly healthy and normal.  When we got home from the hospital, it was apparent that she was not going to be the “typical” newborn who fell asleep in the swing, stroller, or anywhere else. (In fact, she wouldn’t even let us put her in the stroller for two minutes, and lord help us if we put her in the car seat). She wouldn’t be the baby that was content just being held and rocked. At first, I thought something was wrong with her because she was so difficult to soothe. At two weeks old, we went back to the doctor because, again, I thought something was wrong. Again, it was nothing. She was just a LOT of work! She knew what she needed and if we didn’t give it to her, she loudly let us know. We had to basically be in constant motion unless she was asleep and the only way she would fall asleep was to be nursed to sleep. Basically, nursing was the only thing that made her happy.

I was on a mission to do some research and see what was going on. Surely it wasn’t something that I was doing/not doing, right? I couldn’t have made her that way, right? I ran across “Purple Crying” first which seemed to fit at times, but it still didn’t explain why she was never content. One fateful day I discovered the term “high needs baby” and it was as if a lightbulb went off. Everything suddenly made sense and I felt as though the article was written about Penelope!

Once I understood what was going on, I was able to work with her and meet her where she was. I knew what to expect, and I knew it wasn’t something I was doing wrong. It was no longer disheartening, and we got into a great rhythm of understanding. I began to stop expecting her to act like a “normal baby”, and she became a happy baby who rarely cried! Things got even better once she got mobile, she turned into a “busy” baby who loved playing and exploring (but she needs me right there with her, just in case). I also started practicing Attachment Parenting, which honestly goes hand-in-hand with a high needs baby, and that changed everything!

So, what is a “high needs baby”? Dr. Sears famously had a high needs baby himself, and wrote an article about the “Twelve Features of a High Needs Baby”:

  1. Intense – Everything is intense with Penelope. It’s up or it’s down and there’s no in between. Dr. Sears says that you can often spot the high needs baby in the hospital, just like with Penelope.
  2. Hyperactive – Penelope has always gotten bored quickly and needs entertainment. Now that she’s older, she’s always wanting to move, learn, explore and everyone who sees her in action says she’s “busy”.
  3. Draining – She requires a lot of work. A lot of attention. Just, a lot.
  4. Feeds Frequently – She would nurse for 45 minutes to an hour and a half, wake, then want to eat 30 minutes later. I basically nursed her about 20 hours a day.
  5. Demanding – Well, obviously.
  6. Awakens Frequently – I mentioned this already, but yeah, she is a super light sleeper and seems to think she will be missing something if she sleeps too much.
  7. Unsatisfied – She always seemed to want something more, something different, something new. Unless she was nursing.
  8. Unpredictable – Absolutely! She’s ever-evolving. What works today won’t work tomorrow.
  9. Super-Sensitive – Like walking on egg shells sometimes.
  10. Can’t Put Baby Down – Like seriously, not even for 5 minutes most of the time. It’s gotten a lot better since she can crawl now, though.
  11. Not a Self Soother – Absolutely, 100% true. She needs to be nursing to even consider going to sleep most of the time.
  12. Separation Sensitive – She must be near her mama at ALL times.

I was so happy to find out about high needs babies because it gave me confirmation that I wasn’t doing something wrong. I wasn’t making her this way, it wasn’t because I was breastfeeding or because of anything really. It’s just how she is, it’s her personality, and she isn’t the only high needs baby. To be fair though, I don’t want to paint a picture that she’s difficult. She’s actually a really happy, fun loving baby… as long as we are doing everything she wants and attending to all of her needs, exactly when she needs it!

If you’re reading this and you have a high needs baby, know that most “high needs babies” grow up to be super intelligent and often leaders. They are the adults who are driven, confident, independent, and successful. Also know that you aren’t alone and it’s not something you are doing wrong!

2016-05-03-14-40-49-hdr-2 highneedsbabyThis too, shall pass.

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Book Review: Exit the Labyrinth by Stephanie Kay Bendel

Exit the Labyrinth: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression It’s Onset and Aftermath

Buy It Here:

I was so excited when I first learned about this book. As a Psychology major who had a concentration in Human Development, this was right up my alley. I also love a good memoir, so I couldn’t wait to dive in.

This book was all that I hoped it would be and more. It read as a novel, and flowed nicely. From the first paragraph, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to see all the pieces of the puzzle come together. Margo is a 40-something woman who has been struggling with depression throughout her entire life (or what we can remember of it anyway). She has always felt “different” and “out of place”, even among her large family. She has been going to therapy for years to try and uncover lost memories and put everything together in an effort to understand her condition. She wrote this in a flashback fashion. The book starts out with her father requiring surgery and the family waiting in the hospital. Throughout the book, she is recovering and putting memories together, which seem random at first but soon you discover they are not random memories at all. At the end, everything makes sense and you fully understand the “why” and the “how”.

Her father was especially quirky and I loved reading about his thought process. (“What a powerful example he’d given me to follow: Do what is right because it is right, even if it isn’t fair. It had never occurred to me that something could be fair and still not be right.”) Her mother was Polish and had several funny thoughts (“It’s her theory that all human males are inherently unreasonable, and we women just have to learn to live with that”). Margo’s descriptions of her brothers and sisters are especially endearing.

This book gave me a lot to think about. It was extremely interesting to get inside Margo’s head. Some of my favorite passages are below:

“Since time is money, it’s important to save time. The best way to accomplish this seems to be doing everything as quickly as possible, and I often feel like Alice, running as hard as I can while the Red Queen shouts, “Faster! Faster!”

“I am five years old, standing in front o the hot air register in the dining room. Daddy comes in and asks, “What are you doing?” “Trying to get warm. It’s cold in here!” “No, it’s not. It’s plenty warm. You can’t be cold!” I watch him disappear into the kitchen and I try to understand his reasoning. Don’t I know when I’m cold? Then again, do I? I look at my arm and see goosebumps – surely that means I’m cold! Then I remember hearing that some people see things that aren’t there – like Mr. Booley when he’s drunk. Do my goosebumps really exist? I try to feel them with my fingertips but I can’t – my arm feels smooth. Maybe Daddy’s right…”

“Judgement seemed to be one part logic and at least one part intuition, a mysterious phenomenon. In a way it’s related to faith. If you don’t understand how you know something, how do you know you can trust that knowledge? But if you don’t trust it, intuition can’t work; nor can faith”.

I highly recommend this book if you want something honest and true, that will give you a different view of the world. My only negative to the book was that it was a tab long winded and I began to lose steam near the end. However, reading to the end is well worth it!

For More Information About the Book, Click Here!

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Six Month Old Milestones & Baby Update

Penelope will be seven months old tomorrow. I sit here realizing that I should have continued my monthly blogs so I could capture everything she was doing. I did it in her scrapbook though, so I can transfer it over when I get a chance. So, anyway, I’m starting now at 7 months.

This little girl is incredibly active and advanced for her age! We should’ve expected it since she started rolling over at just 5 weeks, but, dang. It’s like everything happened at once! She can crawl like a champ, sit up without assistance, getting into the sitting position without assistance, pull herself up, take steps while holding herself up, fall back from standing into a sitting position. There’s honestly not much she can’t do mobility-wise except for actually walking. (Her daddy and I were early walkers, so we expect her to be walking by 9 months). The doctor said at her 6 month appointment that she was already hitting 8-9 month milestones and also said she would very likely be an early walker.

She is insanely busy constantly and you can’t look away from her for a minute. Seriously. She is out the door before you can bat an eye. She is fast and when she has her sights set on something, she must get it. She will clamber, lunge herself forward, and crawl, pushing things out of her way to get to something she wants. She is feisty and always has been! She can play for hours. Blocks seem to be her favorite thing right now and we can spend half the day with me stacking them up and her knocking them down. She also likes phones, remotes, dolls, books, tupperwear, dog leashes, pretty much anything.

She copies what we do now, like banging on something or grabbing something. She throws tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants (wonder where she got that from). She makes a ton of faces and babbles often. She says “mamamama” most often (especially when she’s tired), but she also says “byebyebye” and “dadadadada”. She grunts, growls, squeals, and screams out seemingly because she likes the sound of it.

She’s starting to understand object permanence and can find something that you hide. She also cries when mama walks out of the room. She’s still super attached to me.

We’ve tried feeding her on and off for a month now. We started with BLW and it seemed to be a hit at first. Then she started getting angry so we tried pureed foods. At this point we have tried numerous things all with failed results. She only wants mama’s milk right now which is okay I suppose. I love nursing her, I just want her to be a good eater. So far we have tried bananas (whole form, mashed, and baby food), sweet potatoes (steamed, pureed, in chunks, and baby food), pasta, eggs, toast, strawberries, avocado, pork, green beans, mashed potatoes, and other mixed baby foods. She didn’t like anything. Seriously. And several of those things we tried at least 3x. Sooooo, food is a no-go.

Sleep is sporadic at best at this point. She’s averaging 12-16 hours a day, but the when and the how is what’s crazy. Some days she takes a 20-30 minute nap every hour throughout the day. Other days she’s up for 4-5 hours and then sleeps for 3-4. Some nights she passes out at 10 without any issues and sleeps all night, while other nights she fights me until 1:30am, and then squirms all night long. She still sleeps with me and nurses to sleep and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Attachment Parenting

Before having Penelope, I hadn’t heard of Attachment Parenting, and it definitely wasn’t something that I planned on doing. However, having a “high needs baby” dictated my parenting style. Before I even realized what I was doing, I was practicing Attachment Parenting and I absolutely love it. I could not imagine parenting any other way.


So, what is Attachment Parenting?

Attachment Parenting was coined by Dr. Sears, and has 7 Basic Principals (Or 7 Baby B’s):

  1. Birth Bonding: This refers to the crucial bonding time that occurs right after baby is born and is awake and alert. Usually, the first breastfeeding latch is established during this time.
  2. Breastfeeding: Helps with bonding, understanding your baby’s cues, and is the best you can do you can do for your baby nutritionally speaking.
  3. Baby wearing: Keeping your baby close to you often by using a carrier or sling.
  4. Bedding close to baby: Nighttime is an amazing time to bond with baby. Also, this will help baby feel secure at night and will teach baby that nighttime isn’t scary.
  5. Belief in the language of your baby’s cry: This refers to responding  with sensitivity when your baby cries. Believing that babies don’t cry for “no reason” or “to be manipulative”.
  6. Beware in baby trainers: This goes along with believing in your baby’s cry. Not trying to “force” or “train” your baby, and just following baby’s cues. Going by what baby needs, when baby needs it.
  7. Balance: This is balancing your life, and making sure to take care of yourself.

Some people refer to Attachment Parenting as a “new fad”, but really it’s been around since the beginning. It just recently got a “name”, and started showing up in mainstream society. For many, Attachment Parenting comes naturally and some mothers simply go on their instinct and end up following this parenting style. In fact, many women that I have talked to either don’t like the “label” or didn’t know it existed but still do “attachment parenting”.

For me, the benefits of this style of parenting are numerous. I sleep better, and my baby is happier. She rarely cries even though she is “high needs”, because I’m giving her what she needs. When she wakes up, she doesn’t have to cry to get my attention or to let me know she’s awake. She will just pat my face and then we wake up with cuddles and love. We don’t have to cry at bedtime, she curls up with me, is in her happy place, and drifts peacefully off to sleep. She gets to experience the world right by my side and she is constantly learning this way. In my opinion, babies who are “velcro babies” end up with a huge vocabulary, higher IQ, and are amazingly sensitive people.

The benefits for Attachment Parenting from Dr. Sears himself is as follows:



  • is more trusting
  • feels more competent
  • grows better
  • feels right, acts right
  • is better organized
  • learns language more easily
  • establishes healthy independence
  • learns intimacy
  • learns to give and receive love


  • become more confident
  • are more sensitive
  • can read baby’s cues
  • respond intuitively
  • flow with baby’s temperament
  • find discipline easier
  • become keen observers
  • know baby’s competencies and preferences
  • know which advice to take and which to disregard


Parents and baby experience:

  • mutual sensitivity
  • mutual giving
  • mutual shaping of behavior
  • mutual trust
  • feelings of connectedness
  • more flexibility
  • more lively interactions
  • brings out the best in each other

From: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/attachment-parenting/7-benefits-ap

What Attachment Parenting is NOT:

Attachment parenting is NOT letting your children “get away with everything”. It is NOT allowing your children to make the rules or run the household. It’s not wearing you baby constantly so they don’t get any time to be independent and learn. It’s NOT hovering. It’s not raising “spoiled brats”. With AP, mothers become so tuned into their children that they quickly and easily know what their children need. It’s being able to say “no” to your children without guilt because you know you have given your time and been there for your child 100%. It’s allowing your children room to explore and learn, while always having a loving parent to fall back on.

Attachment Parenting is not for everyone, but it definitely feels right for us.


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My Ghost Story

I never thought I’d be writing a post like this, but I’m sharing my ghost story with y’all. At least I’m saying it’s a ghost story. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what went on exactly, and I’ve spent hours trying to rationalize it.

So a bit of a backstory needs to be given before you judge me for putting myself in the position to begin with. I’ve been doing research on my family history, as well as house hunting. Well, for months an old house that was built in 1860 kept getting my attention. It needed a lot of work but was gorgeous on the outside. My husband has been against the house from the start so I kept letting it go and always seemed to end up looking at it again a few months later. I realized while I was doing research that there was a large family cemetery on the land, just down from the house and the last name of the family buried there was also my grandmothers maiden name. Maybe we were related! I figured it was a sign that I needed to go visit this cemetery and see the house.

My husband said he already had a bad feeling about the house before we went and to make matters worse, I found an actual ghost story connected to the house that was written a few years ago. The woman said she grew up in the house and that one of the rooms in the home was once used as a funeral parlor. She said one of the buildings on the property was where they used to keep the coffins and bodies. According to her, cabinets would open and close, toys would go off by themselves, doors would shut and lock, and there would be loud noises like a bed being slammed down onto the floor.

To be honest, I’ve never believed in ghosts. Well, okay, I guess I should rephrase that. I have never had a paranormal experience, and I’m one of those people who needs to experience something before I believe in it. I never thought people were lying about their experiences, but maybe it’s a nightmare or an overactive imagination? Honestly I never knew what to think about it.

So we decide to drive out to the cemetery to see the graves and the house. We bring the baby and the two dogs because I figured we would just walk around the cemetery, check out the graves, take some pictures and go home.

We get there, and the cemetery is well kept and very peaceful. It’s really quiet there and at first we think, “oh this is nice”. Then we start to get the feeling that it might be a little too quiet. There’s no wind, no birds, nothing.

Jonathan is already starting to feel uneasy and wants to leave but I say that we drove all the way out there (45 minutes), we may as well look around. I take some pictures of some of the graves and the house and I tell him I want to walk the dogs down to the house before loading them back up into the car. He doesn’t want to leave his car up at the cemetery.

The dogs, baby and I walk down towards the house and Jonathan drives the car. We really weren’t planning to stay long but I was so curious about this house!

He goes up on the front porch and peeks in the window. He doesn’t like how it looks and tells me so. I go up but can’t tell much from the window and I’m still curious.

He goes around back up to the porch and hears a click like the door was being unlocked and sure enough, the back door opens. That should have honestly been our sign to leave! He walks in and comes right back out of the house without saying anything. Of course, I know I shouldn’t go in but naturally I’m so curious! I ask him to hold the dogs while I peek inside.

I peek in and something tells me to walk further inside. As soon as I get in (I’m getting chills as I write this), I start to panic. I feel overcome with a sense of dread and I feel terrified. I keep walking as though I’m in a trance and soon, I am far away from the door. I feel frozen, like I don’t want to go farther into the house but I don’t want to walk back through from where I came. I feel stupid for even going in the house to begin with. It’s as if something is watching me and I’m honestly so scared and feeling nauseous. I walk through a few more rooms but I’m panicking. I want out of the house but for some reason I absolutely do not want to go back through where I came from. I feel trapped. Finally I walk quickly back through to the back door.

As soon as I step out into the porch, there is an incredibly loud bang where something hit the shed right next to where Jonathan and the dogs were standing. I ducked and screamed and Jonathan and I just stared at each other. I said “we need to go!”. We thought we were being shot at because we were at the house without permission. I would have ran but I had the baby in the carrier so I moved quickly and carefully. We practically threw the dogs into the car so we could leave as fast and possible. I have never been so scared but it’s as if everything was moving in slow motion.

As we drove back home, we had time to process what had happened. Jonathan says he felt as if there were something in the house, particularly in the back upstairs room. We wondered if it was a gunshot, but there was no percussion or echo of a gunshot, just something hitting the shed incredibly loud. Like a loud fireworks. Also, it was so quiet there, you would have heard someone rustling around in the woods. There were no trees above this particular shed so nothing could have dropped from a tree. Also, something hit from the side and not from above.

We literally to this day have no idea what the sound was. I get goosebumps and a feeling of dread every time I think about it. I’ve processed over and over and tried to come up with a rational explanation for what happened but there is none.

I have always been one to be curious about experiences like that, but I can tell you it’s not exciting or cool. It’s downright terrifying and I’d like to be as far away from that place as possible.

The shed where the noise occurred is at the very top of the post.

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