Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Wrapping It Up

Baby Temperament & SleepWelcome to the final article of my Baby Temperament & Sleep Series. If you are just joining us, you may want to start with Part 1, where I define baby temperament.

During this series, we have reviewed 9 temperament traits that make up all of our personalities and seen how they might affect the way you help your baby or toddler sleep better. I’ve grouped some of the temperaments together to give you some ideas on helping your baby or toddler sleep better.

Adaptable, Regular, and Positive First Reaction

If your baby or toddler is adaptable, she is probably a little more easy-going than other babies. If she skips a nap, she might not get cranky and will take it in stride. Her regularity makes it easy to plan play dates around her nap schedule and potty training might be really easy if she pees and poops at the same time every day. It might even be easier to master elimination communication, where you can gradually reduce the number of diapers you use for your baby by learning their rhythms and signs before they “go”. If your baby or toddler also typically has a positive first reaction to a new person, food, event or change to routine, she will likely not skip a beat to many changes in her sleep routine at once.

A baby with these temperament traits will likely respond well to a nudge from mom and dad when it comes to solving her sleep problems or breaking sleep associations. It will likely be a lot easier than you think to break some habits and get on a good routine and sleep schedule with your baby and all you need is a little confidence, time, and patience. All you have to do is take the first step and try.

Sensitive, Perceptive, and Adaptable

If your baby is sensitive, he will be more apt to wake up from noises, care more about being hot or cold, and be in tune with your own emotions or stress. Your baby might also notice a lot more around him and things might keep him awake by catching his attention if he is perceptive.

When it comes to sleep, combining sensitivity and perceptive-ness, your baby might be a little more “high maintenance” than our adaptable and regular counter parts above, but if he is also adaptable, he might be able to change his sleeping habits fairly easily. You may just need to go through extra steps helping him sleep through noise, be comfortable (especially during things like teething), and make sure his room is dark enough that it will not distract him too much from the task at hand (sleeping). Some of his other temperament traits will be a factor in terms of how easy or difficult it will be to break problematic sleep associations.

Intense, Persistent, and Energetic

Probably one of the most difficult temperament traits is the intense child. She does not whimper or fuss, she wails and SCREAMS! When she’s happy, she’s HAPPY but when she’s not WATCH OUT! She will let you know loudly how she feels about something. Combine this trait with her persistence and you can have fairly long and loud temper tantrums when she doesn’t get that cookie or toy in the store.

When it comes to sleep, the intense and persistent baby or toddler will probably be much more challenging to help learn to sleep. Disclaimer: I could be partial to saying that because my eldest son, who inspired this site, is both intense and persistent, of course. He also has a lot of energy. This combination of temperament traits are most likely a part of the babies you hear “cry all night” if the parents let them. My son did not, so I know there are more intense and more persistent babies out there. Cry it out is not the only option for these babies, either. It highly depends on your baby and your own temperament, too.

These are arbitrary temperament trait combinations I put together and obviously this list is not exhaustive (doing the math because I’m a nerd, it’s 512 combinations if we assumed a trait is on or off, which obviously is not true so chew on that for awhile and just think how long that article would be!). Although you believe your baby will be the hardest there is, the chances are actually small and you might really be surprised how small a nudge you might have to give your baby to encourage her to sleep on her own. I talk to MANY parents who are pleasantly surprised how much “easier” it was than they originally thought it would be.

Taking the first step, making a “sleep coaching” plan, to help your child sleep is the hardest part, especially when the “easy” answers haven’t worked for you in the past when that neighbor says “I just put her down awake and she went to sleep”. Not so easy for all of us. Some parents are also so judgmental about the method some parents choose to help their child sleep, but unless you have “that” temperament kid, you really don’t know what that other person might be going through and since all babies are a unique combination of these traits, you won’t ever have someone else be able to walk in your shoes or vice versa. Don’t be so quick to say what you think you’d do in the same situation. Even if you have a tough sleeper, how YOU react to sleep deprivation will be different.

While many feel the only choice is sleep deprivation or cry it out, there is A LOT in between, depending on your baby’s temperament. Don’t let sleep deprivation be the choice you make. You owe it to yourself and your baby or toddler to get the rest you both need to function at your optimum!

So, tell me, is your child easy-going, spunky, or spirited? What about you? Take my quiz and find out!

Baby Temperament Quiz

Share your results down below

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.

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9 thoughts on “Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Wrapping It Up”

  1. My girl is spunky. She sleeps OK at night and can put herself to sleep for naps after a bit of crying. The problem is morning. She wakes around 5:30 hungry, has a feed and sometimes can go back to sleep until 6:30/7, but sometimes decides she is up for the day. How can I help her to go back to sleep consistently?

    • Hi @Deb – Thank you for writing! Those early morning wake ups can sometimes be tough to solve and can feel brutal!
      It sounds like you are working hard to teach your daughter good sleep habits, and that she goes back to sleep sometimes is a good start! Keep it up and keep treating that feed as a night feed, unless it is at a time where she/you are ready to get up for the day!
      These free sample schedules should be helpful too:
      If things do not smooth out and you would like additional help with this, please contact us at any time! Good luck!!

  2. The biggest revelation for me this week is the discovery of my own temperament! Our son and I are both spirited! I hope this will add a positive side to our relationship, as I don’t think I could hack an antagonistic one 🙁

    And its tough, working with a spirited child when it comes to sleep, that is definite. We too experience the two steps forward 3 steps back ‘non progress’. He has a best cough now so its even more wakings. Just keeping at it… and hoping for the best.

    • @Chin Although both of you are spirited, you can focus on the positive aspects of your temperament traits and I’m sure you will have a very positive relationship! 🙂 Hang in there with the sleep non-progress. It *will* pay off in the end and you will be glad you started now rather than 2 years from now. I promise!

  3. I found that I am spunky as well as my son. I can see how that is – I used to have a lot of energy…before I was so sleep deprived…haha. It seems that each time we make progess toward a good night’s uninterrupted sleep, something happens…shots, illness, teething…

    My son is a year old now and he is doing better at sleeping at least 8 hours straight. However, when you go to sleep at 8 pm, 8 hours means you are up at 4 am needing help to get back to sleep for those last two hours.

    I know he can do it – I just don’t know the best way to help him.

    • @Kristen Thank you for sharing your results. 4-6 am is a lighter sleep (for all of us), so they will get better at it the more they practice going back to sleep at that time. And, I know what you mean about any time it feels like you’re in a good place, something happens to interrupt progress. Very frustrating! The first year is the hardest. Hang in there!

  4. I, as well as my son , am spunky. I knew this about him because he is so energetic. I, on the other hand, thought I was laid-back, but I do react intensely to many difficult situations.
    I think we feed on each other when we have a bad day and my laid-back husband comments on this. Sometimes I fear something is truly wrong with him, the way he sleeps (or doesn’t) is just bizarre. Maybe it’s his enthusiasm for life and new things (which I sometimes lack)?
    Since we have had a very difficult couple of weeks, I am even more “spunky” i.e. on edge. Hopefully I can take it down a notch and so can my son. If I try, one day he will sleep- right?!?
    .-= Ashley Nielsen´s last blog ..Lil’ Buckaroo =-.

    • @Ashley One of the things I learned from the book I talk about in this series is to recognize my own triggers and when I start to feel myself get riled up I pretty much know my son is not far to follow, so I try to take pre-emptive measures like taking him outside. It doesn’t always happen that way that I get on edge before him, but if I’m on edge it pretty much follows soon after from him, so I definitely think he feeds off me or is sensitive to how I am feeling. It helps to know this about myself that I am spunky and act accordingly. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ll kick it off by saying I’m spunky as is my youngest son, my eldest is spirited but not as much as I thought and my husband is low-key. My eldest and I are a lot alike which is good in some ways because I feel like I have a better understanding of him, which comes in handy when it’s a rough day and sometimes I can bring him down a notch. But, the days that I’m a little more intense or on edge makes it a bit harder because then we feed each other’s intensity. My son’s spiritedness can be tough some days, but I know his persistence and energy will pay off one day. I know the fact he can’t take no for an answer is hard now, but one day when he’s after something he really wants, it might be good in his profession of choice.

    My youngest is still a little too young for me to know exactly how his spunki-ness will play out, but so far he’s much easier going, but is already starting to “fight back” his brother and not let him run over him like when the older one wants his toy, for example. So, I think he’s going to be a good balance.

    I do sometimes wish the boys got my husband’s low-key-ness because he’s very easy to live with and a very loving, laid-back father, but in the end, we are all unique and make a great little family whom I love to pieces!
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Wrapping It Up =-.

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