Your baby’s temperament will have a huge influence on the way you put your baby to sleep and/or sleep train. But, there are other facets of your baby’s personality that may influence your baby’s sleep (or lack thereof), too. This article will talk about shy babies, introverts, and extroverts and how that may or may not affect your baby’s sleep.
If your baby is shy, she most likely looks away (or cries) when a stranger smiles at her or your toddler will grab your leg and hold on tight when approached by someone she doesn’t know. She may warm up after awhile or maybe she doesn’t until she’s seen the person several times. All in all, shy babies are nervous about engaging too much with people they don’t know.
Both my boys were shy babies and were ultra-sensitive to strangers, even from birth (and even not-so-strangers such as visitors who only visited once in awhile). My youngest, although he has always been the more “easy-going” of the two, did not want anyone but mommy or daddy to hold him for quite awhile. Our good friends and neighbors must have seen him every week for two years (yes, YEARS!) before he talked or engaged with them. My eldest has mostly outgrown his shyness and is fairly outgoing (with occasional instances of shyness). My youngest has come out of his shell a bit, but is still shy and won’t really talk to someone he doesn’t know very well, but is talking more and more. My husband and I have joked that NO ONE could ever take our kids out of the grocery store cart while we were shopping and walk out without a big scene! We just didn’t have the type of babies you could pass around at a party. I never viewed this as a bad thing per se, though, because it made sort of sense to me that instincts would keep you close to the person who cares for you, so I never worried too much about it.
Now, let’s talk introverts and extroverts. An introvert is NOT the same thing as a shy person. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, even though it tends to have a negative connotation. An introvert is someone who gains energy from being alone and not stimulated with too much noise and action. An extrovert, on the other hand, gains energy from people and action around them. One is not right and one is not wrong. They are just different and just like we need all different temperaments in the world, we need all types of introverts and extroverts, too!
My inspiration for this article came from an e-mail. Here is a snippet:
“When we take her to places with a lot of action, noise, people she really mellows out and takes it all in- she is very different when we are at home with her. Apparently, she likes to be social.”
The baby in this e-mail is obviously an extrovert. She relishes being around people and the action. Not only does she like it or prefer it, she needs it to feel alive and get that energy.
If your baby is an introvert or an extrovert, this is NOT something that you really work on changing and, if she is an introvert, it does not mean your baby will not have friends. Introverts usually have few close friends rather than a lot of friends. You can be a social introvert or an anti-social extrovert.
There is, of course, a continuum of introversion versus extroversion, so some will be more introverted than others. But, just like your baby’s temperament, this is a part of who he is and you should embrace it, accept it, and help your baby feel confident in the skin she has. I, personally, am mostly introverted, but not overly so. If I’m at a loud party or among a loud group, I start feeling “overloaded” and need a quiet place to regroup. (If you’ve ever done a Myers Briggs Test or interested in personality types, I am an INTJ.)
How shyness and being an introvert or extrovert affects your baby’s sleep
If your baby is shy, this most likely will NOT affect her sleep too much, except that she probably won’t like a brand new babysitter or be too happy about being put to bed by said babysitter. Being shy simply means she feels nervous being around people she doesn’t know. She may or may not grow out of it, but it is something you can actively “work” on, building confidence over the years. I used to be shy. Now, I am not. Sometime in my 20’s I finally outgrew, I guess. I wasn’t overly shy, but I’d be very quiet until I got to know you and then watch out, because I. can. talk!
Going back to the e-mail above, being an introvert or extrovert can very much affect how willing your baby is to be alone, how much they may want (or need) to be alone, how your baby’s nursery may be too stimulating or not stimulating enough, and how “overloaded” your baby may get from her surroundings or toys in the crib. You may struggle to convince your extroverted baby or toddler to nap, when they’d much prefer to be with the “action.” Do keep in mind that just because you have an extroverted baby does NOT mean she does not need the sleep. It may simply be more difficult to enforce it. How difficult will depend on her temperament and persistence.
When it comes to my boys, I distinctly remember a Christmas party (my son must have been 2 months old then) with a LOT of people and my son was really starting to lose it from all of the stimulation. When we got home, put on his pajamas, and turned off the light, he sounded like we were killing him. He was beyond over-stimulated and that was my first lesson on the difference between over-stimulated and over-tired. Two and a half years later, we went to a live Diego! show and he told me at one point “Too loud.” During family events, I take him aside every couple of hours to help him (and me) “recharge” before going back to the party. His younger brother is more shy, but he does not seem to be an introvert in that way. He can, however, play for a looooong time on his own, so the jury is still out on how the boys may change as they get older. It seems they are constantly changing.
Regardless of whether it seems like your baby is shy right now, an introvert or an extrovert, your baby will likely change, too. They are being influenced by so many day-to-day experiences and it’s impossible to predict how things may look days, months, or years from now. So, for right now, consider what your baby needs versus what he or she wants and always consider her temperament and personality when it comes to her sleep.
If you’re looking for ways to get your shy or not-so-shy baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.