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 give you a quiz to determine your child’s 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. They eat at the same times every day. They take naps at the same time every day. And, yes, some even poop at the same time every single day. No doubt those kids are very easy to potty train.
Inconsistent children are very irregular. They wake up at different times every day. They get hungry at different times and nap at different times 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 and 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 spirited-ness is his inconsistency and 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 and that makes lunch at 1 p.m. or later. Some days if he has a snack, he’s starving at noon. It is so hard to know what will push everything too late or not and it’s hard! But, 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 or 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, but also don’t make you eat dinner late and have your baby go to sleep late. Establishing routines now will only help your child later when it comes to school and 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 really 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 routine “shell” and things vary in between. I do have to choose my battles wisely as some things are just not worth pressing against his persistence about 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, depending on the age, you may worry if you are doing cry it out whether she’s just not tired. Depending on the age, this can be true, and it’s important for you to know your baby and 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, 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 Customized 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 login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!
Sleep Resources Designed To Work With Your Baby’s Temperament
For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!