Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Regularity

Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Regularity

Welcome to Part 7 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 regularity as a baby temperament trait. At the end of the series, I will share a quiz to determine temperament.

Baby Temperament – Regularity

Your baby’s regularity is how predictable her schedule is from day to day. There are some babies whom you can set the clock by. They wake up at the same time every day. He eats at the same times every day. She takes naps at the same time every day. And, yes, some babies even poop at the same time every single day. No doubt those kids are very easy to potty train.

Inconsistent children are irregular!

Inconsistent children wake up at different times every day. They get hungry at different times. You’ll see naps are at different times and for different lengths every day. You can rack your brain and figure out what you did wrong today or right yesterday, but the truth of the matter is, this is just their temperament. Nothing you do or don’t do will change it. Getting these children on a schedule can be very frustrating.

Part of my eldest son’s spiritedness is his inconsistency. Boy did it drive me crazy his first 10 or so months of life! I kept an Excel spreadsheet and tracked his sleep, looked for patterns, and wondered what I did right or wrong every day. He gets hungry every day at a different time. Some days he’s hungry at 10 a.m. and I give him a little snack. That makes lunch at 1 p.m. or later. Some days he has a snack and he’s starving at noon. It is so hard to know what will push everything too late or not. It’s hard!

One of the best things I ever did was one day I finally accepted that the only thing consistent about him was the fact that every day would be different. And, that has been true every day since. But, accepting it relieved my stress about it.

Baby Sleep and Regularity

How might your baby’s regularity affect her sleep? Even though you have an inconsistent baby, toddler, or preschooler, it doesn’t mean you don’t try to have a routine and a schedule. You might need to be a little more flexible, but children still thrive on routines and knowing what to expect next. You will want to come up with routines that are flexible for his temperament.  

Establishing routines now will only help your child later when it comes to school. (You don’t want your family life to be chaotic.) Moving your irregular child to a schedule will likely take longer given his natural tendency is not to adhere to a predictable schedule.

The trickiest part for me is that my son is slow-to-adapt, yet inconsistent. So, he thrives on his routines and needs them, but can’t let them change too much, even though he’s inconsistent. (Yeah. I don’t understand that sentence that much either.) For us, that means we have a rough routine “shell” and things vary in between. I do have to choose my battles wisely. Some things are just not worth pressing against his persistence for routine changes.

With an irregular baby who may or may not be tired at “bedtime,” you may need to be a little flexible with the bedtime routine. Of course, with toddlers, they try a lot of things to stall bedtime, so it is tricky to know the difference between stalling and inconsistency. I am flexible within 15-ish minutes (at least I try to be) and then after that I put him to bed and tell him that I will come back to check on him if he isn’t asleep in 10 minutes. Most of the time he falls asleep within 5 minutes of me leaving.

When she is a baby, if you are doing cry it out, you may worry whether she’s just not tired. Depending on the age, this can be true, and you need to know your baby. It helps to track their sleep for a couple of weeks before starting any formal sleep training.

After 3 or 4 months old and up through before the age of 2, even the most inconsistent baby will be sleepy sometime between 6 & 8 p.m. After 2 years old, if she is still napping, it’s possible bedtime could get later until she drops the nap (or you drop it for her), but many will continue to go to bed before 8 p.m. In my experience, most babies cry more when they are over-tired than under-tired. If they are under-tired, you can usually tell during the bedtime routine.

If you are using a no-cry sleep training method, you still want to have routines and an early bedtime. You will want to be careful not to let bedtime get too late while you are waiting for your baby to appear sleepy. When a baby is over-tired, her body will release hormones to fight fatigue and they can appear hyper when they are really exhausted. It will just be important to set limits as it will be very easy to let things go too long.

I speak with a lot of frustrated parents with inconsistent children and it is frustrating, but keep in mind you might not do the same things every day at the same time, either. While it might be frustrating now, keep in mind, that we need these irregular children. They’re the ones who work the night shifts, the doctors who work 36 hours straight, and the pilots who fly the red-eye (safely I might add). Our society needs all types of people and that’s why it’s really a good thing we have all these different temperaments.

Explore each of the 9 temperament traits, Intensity, Persistence, Sensitivity, Perceptiveness, Adaptability, Regularity, Energy, First Reaction, and Mood. Learn how these play a role in your baby’s sleep. In the final part, take an assessment quiz to help figure out you and your baby or toddler’s temperament! Are you similar or different?

Get Sleep Help Personalized For Your Baby’s Temperament!

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