Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Regularity

 
Baby Sleep & Temperament: 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 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 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.

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Sleep Resources Designed To Work With Your Baby’s Temperament

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Can you set a clock by your child? Tell us about your child’s regularity (or lack thereof!)

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15 thoughts on “Baby Temperament and Sleep Series: Regularity”

  1. I’m so glad to come across this website on baby temperaments. Ever since I’ve weaned my 5.5MO baby off pacifier and swaddle 3 weeks ago, I’ve been having a tough time pinning down his naps. He swings from undertired to overtired on the same awake times and similar stimulation levels everyday. As a result his naps have been short or sometimes even missed as I somehow completely miss the window despite my best efforts. Doesn’t help that his cues are practically non existent. I’ve kept an excel sheet and track patterns like you did and sad to say, I simply can’t identify any. I nearly went crazy!

    U may have guessed it, he’s also an intense baby and I suspect quite a persistent one (gosh, his wails). Definitely highly perceptive (once a short bus ride out in the neighbourhood reduced his wake times by 20mins!) and moderately sensitive (at least he doesn’t cry over cloth labels, but he definitely senses my mood very well).

    I’m coming to accept that about him, and to go with the flow. I just hope at least it won’t be crap naps daily because I can’t keep giving him early bedtime forever!

    • @Elly, thanks for your comment and we are glad you found us too! I am so sorry you have been struggling though. You may have already downloaded it, but if you haven’t be sure to download our free nap guide here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/
      You sound like a reader/researcher so if you want more help with a more “do it yourself” approach you may want to check out joining our Members Area where you’ll have access to all of our ebooks, as well as exclusive articles and a weekly chat with one of our sleep consultants. You even get 20% off personalized consulting should you need it. To read more about our Members Area and to join you can visit her: https://www.babysleepsite.com/diy/
      Hang in there! I hope things get better for you soon. 🙂

      • Hi Janelle,

        Thanks for your kind words. I suppose because of the difficulties, I’ve been reading a lot. And I feel that I’ve done all that I can to facilitate his naps. Dark room, white noise, independent sleeper, nap routines. But his scheduling remains a mystery.
        I’m in a local fb support group as well. I do hope we can ride this out soon.

      • @Elly, thanks for your reply! I am glad you have support, we are always here if you need anything else, but I agree – I hope this passes on it’s own soon since you are doing all you know to do!

  2. Hi Nicole

    Really i appreciated ur valuable article . i noticed that every month at this time ”fullmoon” my 1 year twin dosen’t sleep well ,especiallay the last 2 months , Yaceen my baby boy focus with dogs voices ”it increases in fullmoon days”it make im screaming loudly so his sister wake up too , i cuddled them in the same time then put them in crib ;just cuple of minutes and do it again till morning

  3. believe it or not, nicole, i’ve been letting her cry it out for naps, and there has been some improvement. this month she did not naturally fall back into liking her schedule. she always gets a bottle before she takes a nap and had been starting to sleep-eat instead of eat then sleep–so i don’t let her, wake her up, tell her i’m putting her in her crib for naps and that i will come in one time, but that’s it. she’s got to get it down, as i am returning to work and i know her babysitter will do cry it out for naps as well…..

    i also started giving her warnings that nap time is coming. altho she’s only six months, i am certain she understands. i do think it was about not wanting to give up on playing to settle. so, yesterday was day 4 of cry it out and she cried less than 15 minutes for am nap and not at all for pm nap.

    • @Shauna It is amazing how much they understand at such a young age!! 🙂 I’m glad you’re seeing some progress!

  4. Thanks Nicole–she is just like me! It’s a tough balance, as she will scream for 1 1/2 hours to avoid a nap (seriously) and then be willing to sleep, then her whole schedule is off for nap #2, etc., etc. Bedtime has never been an issue, only naps. She consistently sleeps 10-11 hours at night w/o needing me in there to help her re-settle between sleep stages. This past week, I have twice just put her in the crib wide awake and walked away and she hasn’t cried, just played in there happily–and I haven’t gone in unless she is screaming. I know that if she goes to full on rage there’s no way she’ll sleep after that–we’ve been down that road, and so I abandoned cry it out–she got less sleep when we did that. And the Ferber method didn’t work with her, either–it excites her every time my husband or I go in and she thinks that naptime is over then goes into rage when she realizes it’s not. She simply doesn’t want to settle. It’s been three months of this, the week before the full moon. She is otherwise very happy and sticks to the nap schedule no matter what.

    • @Shauna It definitely doesn’t sound like cry-it-out is the way to go for naps. Day and night sleep are handled by different parts of the brain, so it makes sense why she’s struggling with one and not the other. I hope you are finding something that works for you!

  5. Thanks for commenting so quickly. I’ve done some limited searchingon the internet and found very little. I am not certain if part of it may be that she just doesn’t WANT to nap, but it may be. She has always been quite perceptive (the nurses said ‘she’s so alert’ when she emerged), and even as a newborn had a hard time letting go of visual and tactile stimulation to sleep–it took awhile to get her in a groove with napping, but she is otherwise very happy to stick to her schedule. Yesterday, she laughed at me when I told her ‘no’ to pulling a cord out of the outlet….and she knew I was putting down a limit…

    • @Shauna Many babies, including my son, don’t want to stop the fun to sleep as they are afraid they will miss something. He is still this way, years later. But, his sleep is very important and so I set his limits about his sleep and stick to it. Bedtime still has to be at a certain time even though he says “I’m not tired” (and falls asleep 5 minutes later). So, stick with it and don’t sacrifice sleep even if she doesn’t appear to want it. There will be plenty of things they want (or don’t want) that we have to stick to for their own health and well being (carseat, not playing with an outlet, going to school, etc.). The laughing at you when you say no is a phase. Stay firm (not mean or anything just stick to your guns) and consistent and she will learn you mean business. I also recommend a book on my resources page to handle strong-willed children. https://www.babysleepsite.com/resources Good luck!

  6. Yeah, after reading your articles I realized my baby is usually quite regular, altho intense and persistent. The problem is the week before the full moon–everything is affected. She is six months old and at other times, I can put her in her crib drowsy but awake and soothe her down, she wakes up in the middle of the night and gets herself back down, she wakes up at the same time, poops at the same time, is hungry at the same time, etc. BUT before the full moon, forget it. She gets gassy, gets hiccups all the time (3 or 4 times a day), wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, is too involved in stimulation to attempt soothing for herself or accept what I am doing to soothe her (even tho it works like a charm at other times). I end up letting the schedule be a bit more flexible, then once the full moon passes, spend a week getting her back on track. Advice? When things are working, she’s on a pretty strict schedule, down to what type of play we do at different times, what time of day we have outings, etc., and seems quite happy.

    • @Shauna Thank you for commenting. I’m going to have to do some research and an article about the full moon now that you’ve brought it up. I never noticed a correlation to the moon with my son, but I wonder. If I had used Baby Insights back then (if I knew about it), I could go back and see if there was one. 😀

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