Is Your Baby High Needs, Fussy or Spirited?


Is Your Baby High Needs, Fussy or "Spirited"?

Search the internet for “signs” of a high needs/fussy baby you’ll discover a list of descriptors like, difficult, shrieks, hyperactive, demanding, exhausting, unsatisfied, not a self-soother, and awakens frequently. While there may be an element of truth in these terms, rather than helpful, they can leave you feeling more alone and discouraged than ever.

That’s why I coined the term, "spirited baby". When my son was born the only information, I could find that described a baby like him used these negative words, yet I realized that my son was much like his father, a high-energy, passionate, sensitive, and perceptive adult whom I love dearly. It was the good days that made me search for a better word to describe him. On those days I realized that this child who could sometimes drive me wild possessed personality traits that were strengths when understood and well guided.  Decades later the research would support my perception. Given the care they need these babies not only develop normally and happily but often excel.

Webster Dictionary defines spirited as lively, creative, keen, eager, full of energy and courage and having a strong assertive personality. Spirited – it feels good, sounds good, communicates the exciting potential of these children, and yet honestly captures the challenge faced by their parents.  Describing our babies as spirited gives us hope. It pulls our focus to their strengths rather than their weaknesses, not as another label, but as a tool for understanding.  We realize that within their body resides an arousal system built like a Lamborghini engine, high tech, sensitive, light to the touch and powerful. The challenge is to figure out how to enjoy the ride. That’s why I have created a Credo for you.



  1. You are not alone. Every year approximately 20 percent of all babies born are spirited. That means that there are millions of other parents who empathize with you and understand the challenges you face. You are not failing as a parent.
  2. Your actions have not made your baby spirited. Spirited infants who can rocket from quiet and calm to red-faced and screaming in seconds are wired with a more reactive arousal system.
  3. It is not your imagination that you are working harder. At any given moment, a spirited baby, compared to a low key baby, is in a state of heightened awareness and reactivity which is why they need extra amounts of attention, touch, and assistance to calm.  Often the right response for the spirited baby runs contrary to traditionally recommended practices, especially those that encourage ignoring a baby’s crying, or not responding quickly.
  4. It is important to be compassionate to yourself.  Your own need for sleep and decent food, a sense of rhythm and predictability to your day is real and legitimate. Taking care of you, is taking care of your baby.  
  5. Celebrate and enjoy the delights of your spirited baby. Let your baby draw you in and wrap around your heart. The power of this child’s gaze is irresistible. Even strangers remark about how alert she is.  Always remember this child is more, passionate, persistent, sensitive, energetic, and alert. These are traits we value in adults!  

Check out my latest book:

"Raising Your Spirited Baby"

Available on Amazon;  Get your copy today

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