Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Adaptability

Baby Sleep & Temperament: Adaptability

Welcome to Part 6 of my Baby Temperament and Sleep Series. If you are just joining us, you may want to start with Part 1, where I define baby temperament. This article will discuss adaptability as a baby temperament trait. At the end of the series, I will give you a quiz to determine your child’s temperament.

Baby Temperament – Adaptability

Your baby’s adaptability is how quickly your child adapts to changes in schedules and routine. Slow to adapt children often cry or fuss when one activity has to end and another one must begin. They also can get upset with changes in routine. Slow to adapt children may also not react favorably to surprises.

As Raising Your Spirited Child states, “It’s the slow-to-adapt child who loses it because you cut his toast in triangles when he wanted rectangles or you stopped at Burger King when he was expecting McDonald’s. Naptime, lunchtime, bedtime, drop-off at daycare…are all daily transitions that are challenging for this child.”

As I’ve mentioned before, my eldest son is spirited and part of what makes him so is that he is slow to adapt. This improves as he gets older, but is still very much a part of him. When he was a baby, we would need to break our errands into separate events. Every time we left the car, left the store, and got back in the car was an issue because of the transition. It took us a little while to figure that out. We’d go to the store and he’d be ok, but by the 3rd stop, he’d lose it, even if especially if it was a short 5 minute stop. As he got older, when he could understand, we had to count down everything and I’d give him several warnings. “10 more minutes before we have to go inside” (from playing outside), “5 more minutes”, “1 more minute”, “10 more seconds” and then countdown and he’d STILL put up a fuss going inside. Fun times. Now that he’s older, we can run as many errands as we want and don’t need to give him as many warnings, but he is still slow-to-adapt when our routine changes, sometimes, and when it comes to bedtime, in particular.

Baby Sleep and Adaptability

How might your baby’s adaptability affect her sleep? Your child’s adaptability will most affect sleep when it comes to routines, naps, nights, and just day-to-day routines. Many parents like to follow routines even when their baby is a newborn by following an eat-play-sleep routine, for example. For slow-to-adapt children, this can be your saving grace. As a newborn, you might not know, yet, that he is slow-to-adapt, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try a routine, especially if your baby seems extra fussy all day. Slow-to-adapt children crave routine and need to know what to expect next. Even though my son is more adaptable now, he still does not like routine changes too much and can melt down in certain circumstances.

As you can probably guess, consistency is the most important aspect when it comes to your slow-to-adapt child. As easy and tempting as it feels to read just one book when you usually read three or switch teeth-brushing with putting on pajamas, it might just erupt into a meltdown or rough night for all. A bedtime routine and sleep schedules are musts and whether you use cry it out or a no-cry method, your success will be highly dependent on your ability to stay consistent, which is easier said than done, I know. I have been there!

If your child is slow-to-adapt *and* persistent like mine, it will be challenging to set limits, but limits will be instrumental in tackling sleep problems as well as raising a happy and healthy child in the years to come. If you need more detailed recommendations on helping your child with his adaptability, you can read more in Raising Your Spirited Child and Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, if he is also persistent.

Explore each of the 9 temperament traits, Intensity, Persistence, Sensitivity, Perceptiveness, Adaptability, Regularity, Energy, First Reaction, and Mood, focusing on how they play a role in your baby’s sleep and in the final part, take an assessment quiz to help figure out you and your baby or toddler’s temperament and see how it might be similar or different.

Get Sleep Help Personalized For Your Baby’s Temperament!

Your baby’s temperament influences his or her sleep habits in a big way – and that means that the sleep coaching you do with your baby will need to be suited to your baby’s unique temperament. That can be tricky – but not to worry! Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® are experienced in creating Personalized Sleep Plans® that are customized to your baby or toddler’s temperament. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan®, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to log in and get started right away – it’s that simple!

Is your child slow-to-adapt? Share your story with us!

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5 thoughts on “Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Adaptability”

  1. I am not sure if my son (5 months) is slow to adapt. I know my husband is very much a creature of habit and hates change. We kept our son on a 3 hour feeding rhythm for the first 4 months but it’s hard to keep things consistent when they are going through so many changes. We have been sleep training him (with your advice) for about 2 weeks now and while the 7pm bedtime has improved, he still is WIDE awake at 2am and takes 30-60 minutes to get back to sleep.

    • Hi Julie,
      Hang in there, I know it can be tough. Sounds like sleeptime is slowly improving. Just remember that consistency is key and keep doing what you’re doing even through that 2 am wake up.

  2. My kids love and thrive on routines, but I only really consider them slow to adapt when it comes to sleep! Both have their own little internal schedules that can’t seem to be budged no matter what I do. My daughter is 4 now and still wakes at the same time no matter when I put her down. My son is almost 17 months and is the same way, and unfortunately his wake time is 5am no matter what. Maybe this isn’t considered unadaptability, just stubbornness? 🙂

  3. Our son is slow- to – adapt, but moderately so at least as far as we can tell at this point. However, I am extremely slow to adapt, it will be interesting to see where he falls.

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