The High-Need Baby… It's a thing.

Sometimes there are things in life that you'd experienced all along, but that never had a name. Maybe you thought you were the only one.

Bucket Head

When I run, my sinuses get all funny. I feel pressure like I'm in an airplane and everything sounds like there's a bucket on my head. It's been like that my whole life. During basketball practices in high school, I could barely hear the coach. I had to plug my nose and blow out to equalize the pressure and hear again for just a couple of minutes.

Whenever I explained it to somebody, I got blank stares… until one day. My friend Rachael is a nurse and she said, "Oh, that's Patulous Eustachian Tube Dysfunction."

There's a name for it?
This happens to other people?
It has its own Wikipedia page?
It's a thing!

There's still nothing I can do about it but for whatever reason, just knowing it has a name is a real comfort.

Two Sneezes

Whenever I walk outside on a sunny day, I sneeze twice. So does my mom. Always have.

I had a genetics class my freshman year at MSU. I spent most of that particular class fighting with the State News crossword puzzle, but I perked up when the professor started talking about the Photic Sneeze Reflex, also called "sun sneezing." He used it as an example of a dominant genetic trait that's also relatively rare (18–35% of people).

It's a thing!

Head Tingles

As a kid, I loved watching Bob Ross in The Joy of Painting. My brother and I called him "the hypnotist" because of his soothing, soft-spoken voice. But for me, the show was especially relaxing. Listening to him speak gave me this warm, tingly feeling all over my neck and scalp. Weird.

Fast forward two decades. It's March 22, 2013. I'm listening to the end of an episode of This American Life and they tease the next week's episode. A woman's voice says:

It was like starbursts in my head. Starbursts that open on the crown and then sparkle down at the nape like this warm, glittering water rushing under your scalp.

She was describing the Bob Ross feeling!
It's a thing!

It's called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). More on ASMR in a future post!

Fussy Baby

All that to say that Catie and I just had another one of these moments, where something we'd been living with suddenly has a name.

If you know us, you know that Charlie has been a difficult baby, especially at bedtime. It feels like we've read everything on the internet about babies (and there's a lot!), but nothing out there ever really fit Charlie. He seemed to break all the rules.

Then we ordered a book called The Fussy Baby Book: Parenting Your High-Need Child From Birth to Age Five.

The Fussy Baby Book cover

As soon as it came, we sat down and read the chapter on sleep.

It was about Charlie!

We tore through the book and everything we read described Charlie to a T. For the first time, somebody understood our baby and his conventional-wisdom-defying behaviors.

It has a name. Charlie is a High-Need Baby.

If you have a fussy, difficult baby like Charlie or you want to know what makes our little Charlie tick, order the book and read the book. It's all in there.

Come to find out, there's a whole subreddit called VelcroBabies for parents of high-need infants and toddlers. Just read a few of the posts and you'll get a glimpse into our world of baby-related stress and anxiety.

The book and the subreddit offer up ideas for dealing with high-need children and we'll certainly be taking some of the strategies for a spin, but that's secondary. More than anything, we're just so relieved to know that we're not alone.

This happens to other parents.
It deprives them of sleep, too.
It drives them up the wall, too.
It's a thing!

We love our high-need baby, but trust us… it's a thing.

Steve Richert

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