Is Your Baby Shy? Is Your Baby an Introvert or Extrovert? And, How That Affects Your Baby’s Sleep

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baby temperamentYour 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.

What is your baby’s personality like? How do you see it affect your baby’s sleep?

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12 Responses to Is Your Baby Shy? Is Your Baby an Introvert or Extrovert? And, How That Affects Your Baby’s Sleep

  1. Lisa says:

    My 3 year old is definitely shy, and so was/am I, so easy to see the connection. She takes a good 20 minutes to warm up to most people, even family members that she sees pretty regularly. I wonder if it does affect her sleep in that she may not have as much confidence / independance (may not really be the right words) and tends to want someone there with her (at bedtime although we rarely give in to this one, and in the morning when she wakes at 5:45 and can’t go back to sleep).

  2. Christine says:

    We figured out in our one-on-one consulting (totally worth it btw!) that my son is a lot like your older son. He tends to be shy and does not like to be alone in his room at bedtime. I think he wants the security of knowing Mama or Dada is right nearby. He is very analytical, so I think he just needs to think about things for awhile before he determines if he is comfortable in a situation.

  3. Marcia says:

    My little one is shy, but VERY extroverted. This has been a challenge from day 1 with her sleep because she would rather be with people than in her room sleeping. She needs her sleep, though. She will not sleep anywhere there is something more stimulating going on. Through many months of “training,” she will now accept that it is nap or bedtime, but she must sleep in a darkened room with no loud noises or she will stay awake. This has made me very rigid with being home at naptimes and bedtime because she is not fun to be around if she is tired. We’ll see how she becomes as she gets older, but she definitely thrives on being around other people.

  4. Ophelia says:

    Marcia, that’s good to hear because my lo sleeps fantastically well at home in her crib/nursery (after months of training!) but won’t sleep out and about in her stroller or anywhere new. I have been feeling bad because so many people seem to be able to take their babies out with them in the evening or daytime and they just drop off and they somehow judge me for not being as flexible as them! Like yours, mine loves other people although she doesn’t necessarily welcome being picked up randomly, so I guess it’s just in her nature. Phew, so nice to read this article and feel a bit better!

  5. Lori says:

    Great article! I’m not sure whether my 15-month-old is an introvert or an extrovert, but I’m leaning more towards extrovert. He’s definitely not shy! He will usually go to anyone, at least for a while, and he will play by himself for long periods. He has always resisted sleep, naps especially, and my husband & I joke that he’s afraid he’ll miss something. My mom says he’s just different. No matter how tired he is, he will not sleep out and about whether it be church, for a walk in the stroller, or even in the car for the most part. I can totally relate to Marcia and Ophelia. Family and friends think I am a neurotic new mother and just do not understand! Even my husband can be trying at times because he wants to do things on the weekend when he is home. He has gotten a bit less sensitive to being overtired as he’s gotten older. However, we’re still dealing with a super early bedtime as he transitions to one nap.

  6. Sharayu says:

    My 2 1/2 yrs son is introvert.he will not feel secure with strangers.even the family and friends who have not visit oftenly ,my son will not be comfortable with them for long time.even in the pre nursery school he sat alone,will not mingle with the classmates.i think this will affect his afternoon nap.at bedtime its very difficult to get him into sleep.Most oftenly we have to take him to the car.

  7. Manju says:

    My toddler (turning 2 this month!) is definitely an extrovert. He talks non stop and loves to talk to everyone – known or unknown. I think he knows more people around the block than I do!
    But he absolutely must sleep in his hammock or else he cannot sleep. I have been trying to move him to sleep on the bed, but no luck. I rock him to sleep in the hammock and then move him. He wakes up in a couple of hours and cries to go back. We do this every night.
    He readily takes his afternoon nap but fights tooth and nail against the nighttime sleep.
    Wonder if this has anything to do with him being an extrovert.

  8. Carnita says:

    I’m with Ophelia and Marcia in this one! My very sociable extroverted young man(11mo) will NOT sleep anywhere except in his crib at home(in a darkened room, and pref not TOO much crazy loud noise)no matter how tired he is! He definitely wants to be where the action is and thinks hes missing out on something exciting in the neighborhood lol! I seem neurotic to others when I emphasize that it’s best for me to be home for his naps-because their kids all ‘sleep anywhere,anytime’ ! I’m told I spoil him by doing that but they DO NOT UNDERSTAND! UUURRGGGHHH! it irks me! anyway, glad to know I’m not alone :)

  9. Nicole says:

    @Lisa 20 minutes is pretty good compared to my boys! :) Personalities are so complicated, but I would say that it is possible that she prefers a confidence boost from mommy rather than be alone. There are plenty of people who don’t like being alone, so in that way I can definitely understand why kids don’t want to be. I certainly have empathy about that. It can be so tricky having a good balance. All we can do is try to boost their confidence that it’s okay to be alone, sometimes, but they are not alone all the time. Hopefully, that gives them a healthy outlook as they grow older, too, rather than “relationship hop” for fear of being alone, for example. Parenting is so hard, isn’t it?? Thanks for commenting!

    @Christine Thank you!! I’m so glad your one-on-one consultation was helpful to you! :) Yes, my older son is very similar. I can see the confidence building over time and he doesn’t need to stand back and watch *as long* before jumping in, but he definitely still assesses the situation. I rather like that. I’d rather him think about potential consequences than do something dangerous. He is cautious by nature, so that’s good in some ways, at least. ;) Thank you for sharing!

    @Marcia I know exactly what you mean. My eldest was always afraid he’d miss the party in the other room and still does not like to think he’s missing something! He very very very rarely has slept somewhere other than his bed. Even on a trip down South for a Family Reunion he stayed awake IN THE CAR until 11 p.m. because he didn’t want to miss the state signs as we went into a new state. He never ceases to surprise me how much sleep he’ll miss just to be involved in what’s going on around him. :D Thank you for sharing!

    @Ophelia You are definitely NOT alone in needing to be home to sleep! And, even those who have babies who sleep out and about, it isn’t necessarily healthy to let your baby “crash” in the stroller. My boys would sleep EVENTUALLY in a stroller but it was after they were beyond exhausted and that wasn’t good for anyone (especially Mr. Cranky Pants). :) Of course, there are some who love their sleep and will sleep in a stroller even with a lot going on and they are good with that and that’s great! We are not all that lucky, for sure, though! Thank you for commenting!

    @Lori He could be like me who is an introvert who leans extrovert sometimes. It’s blurry. :) And, of course, he will start to change a lot. My youngest has always played SOOOO well on his own but nowadays he’s becoming much more social and is more often asking for someone to play with him much more often than before. Of course, we love playing with our kids but sometimes you have to cook dinner, do laundry, etc. so it’s been interesting to watch him grow and change. It’s always hard when family and friends don’t get it, but they would also probably be the first to wonder why you have such a whiny and misbehaved kid who is just overly tired, right? ;-)

    @Sharayou I know this can be challenging and you feel bad for the family members that so much want to engage with your child. He will grow and change and his confidence will build, I’m sure. When my youngest first started preschool the teachers didn’t even know if he could talk (though he talks A LOT at home), but he has opened up a lot over the last year. But, it did take a year!! Hang in there!!

    @Manju Awww! He sounds very social and cute, I’m sure! It sounds like he believes he “needs” to be rocked or in the hammock to fall asleep. Although it may be a few rougher nights, if you got him accustomed to falling asleep without moving to sleep, first, but in the hammock, and then try the bed, it would probably go much smoother. Try rocking his hammock but then stop before he’s asleep and wean him off the movement. Then, try the bed later. Breaking it into pieces can make a big difference. With practice, we can always learn a new way to sleep. Good luck!

    @Carnita You are definitely not alone! Not with the sleep and not with people who don’t understand. I just said that if they weren’t going to deal with the aftermath, they should not say anything about it. We are the ones who have to be up with them if they wake at night from being over-tired or what-not, right? :)

    Thank you everyone for all the great conversation! Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to everyone. Cold/flu season is starting early in our house and it’s been a rough week. I hope this Winter is better than last, though!

  10. Rayne says:

    This was interesting for me to read. My 2 1/2 year old is very extroverted. We have had trouble with her sleeping for a little less than a year. She will not take a nap and still does not want to go to bed at night. Our pediatrician said she should get around 12 hours of sleep so we focused more on bedtime than napping. We finally got her in a routine of going to bed around 7 and getting around 7. Except for those wonderful morning when she comes to my bed screaming at 4:00. This seems to work for her but makes for an exhausting day for whoever is caring for her (she’s on the go ALL Day!) Thankully, my 16 month old still loves her 3 hour nap. Nicole…Thank you for all the great info. you provide.

  11. Taiwo says:

    My baby is 10 months old but she won’t sleep on her own except you rock her or breast feed her. This has been quite tasking. She doesn’t allow outsiders carry her except family members she is familiar with but your articles have been of great help. Thank you much.

  12. Debbye says:

    @ Rayne- Thank you for writing, and yes, that does sound like a long and tiring day! I hope you can get a restful time of day out of your extrovert at least! :)
    Best wishes to you!

    @ Taiwo- Good luck with your little one, you may want to work on some sleep coaching to help your daughter learn how to fall asleep and back to sleep on her own. There are different methods of sleep training that you can use to help teach her this including no cry and limited crying methods. Here is an article outlining different methods for helping teach her to sleep: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-training-from-no-cry-to-cry-series-part-1/
    And an article about sleep associations that will help you understand her dependence on you:
    http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-association/

    Good luck!!! :)