Baby Sleep and Temperament
A newborn baby’s personality can start to show almost immediately after birth. You can even pick up on some baby’s temperament as early as in the womb. Was your baby a wild party animal in your stomach? Or a calm, slow mover? A baby’s temperament is basically their disposition and how they act and react in different situations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics early childhood experts, there are three loose categories of temperament: easy, slow-to-warm or shy, and difficult or challenging. There are actually nine characteristics that make up your child’s temperament. By learning about these temperament traits and becoming familiar with the different types of temperaments, you can get a better understanding of your child.
The level of physical activity, motion, restlessness or fidgety behavior that a child demonstrates in daily activities (and which also may affect sleep).
Rhythmicity or regularity: the presence or absence of a regular pattern for basic physical functions such as appetite, sleep and bowel habits.
Approach and withdrawal:
The way a child initially responds to a new stimulus (rapid and bold or slow and hesitant), whether it be people, situations, places, foods, changes in routines or other transitions.
The degree of ease or difficulty with which a child adjusts to change or a new situation. And how well the youngster can modify his reaction.
The energy level with which a child responds to a situation, whether positive or negative.
The mood, positive or negative, or degree of pleasantness or unfriendliness in a child’s words and behaviors.
The ability to concentrate or stay with a task, with or without distraction.
The ease with which a child can be distracted from a task by environmental (usually visual or auditory) stimuli.
The amount of stimulation required for a child to respond. Some children respond to the slightest stimulation, and others require intense amounts.
And just to be clear, there is no temperament that is “better” than the other, they are just different. Just like each child is different and each parenting style is different, each temperament is different. So how does temperament affect your child’s sleep? Let’s dive into it!
Your child’s personality and temperament go hand in hand. If you have an extremely easy going, calm and overall chill baby – sleep training and overall sleep habits are typically going to be easier for your baby and you. Now, this does not mean that if you have a baby with a more challenging temperament, they are going to have sleep problems. You may just have to approach sleep and sleep training in a different way. Remember that sleep training is not a one size fits all, do X,Y,Z and every baby will sleep perfectly every time. When we teach our babies to sleep independently, we adapt to them and get on their level, whatever that may be.
Baby Sleep and Temperament Tips
1. Sleep Training
When you make the decision to sleep train your baby, you’ve most likely been dealing with constant night wakings, taking forever to fall asleep or become dependent on some sort of crutch (rocking, feeding) to get your baby to sleep. Infant Sleep training can be a HUGE benefit to your mental health as well as extremely beneficial for both you and your baby. No matter what temperament your baby has, I can help you get them sleeping through the night and falling asleep independently. Easy babies often adapt to whatever sleep training method you choose. You may not even need to do formal sleep training for your baby, oftentimes they develop healthy sleeping habits on their own.
If you have a shy or slow to warm baby, they often adapt to sleep training extremely well, they just need consistency and routine to get there. If your baby is a bit more intense or challenging, we may need to find a process that is calm and eases into things. And remember, sleep training is not putting your baby down and leaving the room to let them cry it out!! There are so many different techniques and ways to work with ANY baby, regardless of their temperament!
2. Bedtime Routine
No matter your baby’s temperament, EVERY baby thrives on routine! Establishing and sticking to a solid bedtime routine is key in getting your baby ready for bed. Some babies need a short and to the point bedtime routine. Maybe it’s feeding, snuggling, and into bed. Other babies need more time to wind down from the day. Their bedtime routine may look like bath, books, feeding, snuggles, singing songs and into bed. After learning your baby’s temperament you’re going to figure out what works best for them and what they need before bed to help set them up for a good night’s sleep. Regardless of what you decide to do for your baby’s bedtime routine, just stick to it!
3. Go With the Flow
You can’t change your baby’s personality. If you feel that you have a baby who is a bit more intense, or if you have a baby that is shy and unsure about a lot of things, rest assured that they will learn to sleep independently, we may just have to tweak things and experiment with a few different techniques in order to find what’s the best fit for them.
If you need any help at all trying to figure out how to get your baby to sleep, please reach out! I am happy to help troubleshoot and figure things out with you so that you and your baby can have a good night’s sleep!