Temperament + Baby SleepApr 18, 2023
I always talk about how temperament matters when it comes to your baby’s sleep, but I haven’t gone into too much detail in the hope to not create information overload, but I wanted a space to talk about it!!
Disclosure: If you are just getting started learning about sleep and this sounds overwhelming, I suggest you come back at another time because this is definitely a deep dive on a bit of a side topic… But it is an important one!
If you are new to all this baby sleep stuff, make sure to sign up for my FREE "No More (Extra) Night Wakings" email course!! Linked here.
SO WHAT IS TEMPERAMENT?
To put it simply it is who you are. Who your baby is. Our natural personality type and behavior. Your own personal flavor.
This temperament (or type) is typically stable throughout your life. You can’t change it. It has a strong genetic basis and is neither good nor bad. But of course there are some temperaments that are shown to be more challenging than others when it comes to parenting.
You have a temperament and your baby has a temperament. They may or may not be the same. But your temperament really matters in this too, and this is what isn’t talked about enough.
Temperament is measured via 9 different dimensions. I won’t go into these super deeply as I want to focus more on sleep and how it can affect sleep, but it includes looking through the following dimensions:
Activity level (active-relaxed)
Regularity of bodily functions (diapers/ body clock)
Adaptability to change (quick or slow)
Approach (eager or reluctant)
Physical sensitivity (not - very)
Distractibility (very- not very)
Mood (positive - negative)
Persistence/attention span (long-short)
Intensity (high emotional intensity - mild calm reactions)
All of these variables are then put together to create different temperaments:
Slow to warm
Interesting fact: The most common temperaments are Easy and Combo.
Research suggests that a more challenging temperament consists of a more negative mood, withdrawal tendencies, low adaptability, high intensity reactions and low regularity.
So how does temperament impact our baby’s sleep? Well, this is where it gets interesting!! And a little wordy / complicated.
Our sleep behavior as humans is driven by nature AND nurture.
Temperament is really important, of course, but other factors actually affect sleep more. For example: Environment, parental response, parenting practices etc.
Temperament is hard to access because it is most often reported by the parents themselves. Report really depends on the parents' mood at the time. Which is determined by sleep (or the lack thereof). As a result, parents who report having a child with a “difficult” temperament will often share that their little one has a hard time sleeping.
This leads to the question: Are families leaning towards saying they have a child with a “difficult” temperament or are they just sleep deprived? Exhausted? Struggling? Have a lack of support? Or does their child really have a tricky temperament?
In reality, more evidence is needed to say how much temperament affects sleep. What we do know is how we respond to temperament is so important.
Challenging temperament tends to bring out harsher parenting because parents are stressed and tired, which leads to more challenging behaviors, and this creates a cycle.
If you happen to have a child with a trickier temperament, you are not doomed for poor sleep for the next few years and beyond. Neither of you deserve that. There is decades of research to support that evidence based positive parenting techniques can reduce the challenges that come with parenting a child with a more fiery temperament.
And this is really what my entire sleep teaching philosophy is based on.
Evidence based positive parenting techniques that allow you to tune into your baby/child, and help them get the sleep they need (and YOU need too).
If you’re constantly struggling with bedtime and night sleep and need help!! That’s where I come in. This is my jam! The first thing you want to do is make a clear plan for bedtime.
None of this "chuck them in a crib and walk off for 12 hours."
A solid sleep plan with several sleep teaching options to fit your comfort level as a parent. YOU choose what works best for your baby and your family 👇
If your baby is under 3 months old
If your baby is 4-24 months old
If your little one is 2 years +
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