Just like adults, babies have different temperaments. Some are laid back and happy most of the time; others can be prone to frequent tantrums. Some babies enjoy a peaceful environment; others feel more comfortable when there is noise around. You may not realize, but the type of temperament that your little one has can affect their sleep, as well as having an effect on any sleep training that you provide.
When you are making changes to your child’s sleep, they may respond easily and go with the flow or they may protest for a while about it. This is where knowing your child’s temperament will help you when making changes and what to expect.
Do you have a dandelion baby or an orchid baby?
Now first off, if you have a dandelion baby I’m not calling your child a weed! 😀 All I mean is that some babies are able to thrive no matter where they are and others need very specific conditions. Just like a dandelion they can adapt and thrive no matter what kind of environment they are in, like this dandelion, for example. It’s not in an ideal place for water, probably gets extremely hot in the bricks and the conditions are not ideal, but it’s growing and thriving without any problem. Before becoming a parent I thought this is how all babies were. Oh, how wrong I was!
Now take and orchid. An orchid needs conditions that are just right. Not too much water, not too much sun light, not too hot, not too cold, juuuuuuust right. If the conditions aren’t good then the orchid doesn’t thrive. I know because I had orchids living in Colorado and never had success with growing them but in Sweden they are like the easiest plant! 😀 If you have a child that needs very specific conditions, you know what I’m talking about. You’ll need to be very aware of their awake windows, naps times, routines, and room environment for sleeping.
If your baby is an easy going dandelion
If you have an easy going baby, the task of getting them to sleep through the night should be fairly simple. In fact, you may find that they do all of the work themselves. This type of baby is often a self-soother. This means that If they do wake up in the night they will usually fall asleep again in a few minutes.
If this sounds like your baby, you should simply stick to a regular routine each night, so that they get to know that it’s time to sleep. If you do hear any crying during the night, you should use a technique that is a gradual way to help guide them to sleep but they will be able to start doing it more on their own fairly soon. Your little one may have been startled by waking up and just need a few minutes to settle, so leave them for about ten minutes before you investigate. However, self-soothers and easy going babies do not usually carry on crying. If the upset continues, it’s a good idea to check if there is a problem.
If your baby is an orchid
Every parent thinks their own child is special; even if their little one is difficult. However, some babies can be hard work; even if their parents will not admit it in public. If this sounds like your baby, the good news is that temperaments can change. Just because your baby is tantrum prone and attention seeking does not mean they will be a difficult toddler or teen.
However, babies that are difficult still present a problem in the here and now. They are easily disturbed and upset and they want you to be there when they are. This results in frequent loud crying during the night. One thing you should never do if you have a child with this type of temperament is adopt the ‘cry it out’ technique. Some babies will just keep crying for hours, until they get attention. This is not good for the baby, or anyone else in the household. This does not mean you should let your baby rule your nights either. Here are some tips that you may find useful.
- Stick to the same routine before bedtime.
- Stick to the same sleep time.
- Do not over stimulate your child with lots of new activities, especially in the couple of hours before the night time sleep starts.
- Make sure the sleep environment is suited to your child. If they like a little sound while they sleep, provide it or use white noise.
- Adopt a technique that is not completely ‘no cry’. Let the crying continue for a few minutes. Try not to pick your baby up but stay close to the crib and speak soothingly.
- As your baby gets older, try to distance yourself more; stay by the bedroom door instead of going up to the crib.
- Orchid babies will let you know if they are not happy and they are usually a bit loud about it. Be ready for this when making changes to sleep, or well, anything!
If your child is a little of both
The fact is that many babies veer from being easy going to demanding, at a moment’s notice. There can be many reasons for this such as:
- Changes to the home environment
- Changes to routine
- Eating different foods
- Upset in the home
Some children have a temperament which means that they do not handle change or unrest very well. Others just love mischief and enjoy being playful in the middle of the night. These babies are often signallers at night. They wake up and they want you to know about it.
The best way to deal with this may be to use a gradual approach to not answering their signals at night. You can start by popping your head into your baby’s room to check on them, and then get them gradually used to you not coming straight away when they cry. If they wake up at night, you first wait only a minute or two. Then the next night you start increasing the time by another one to two minutes until you are up to ten minutes. If they just want to grab your attention, and you do not provide it, they will often get bored and go back to sleep. However, all babies are different, so be prepared to be flexible. Some will be more persistent than others when it comes to this!
By the time you are ready to make changes to your baby’s to sleep, you should have a good idea of their personality. Use this knowledge to help you find a sleep training technique that works best for you and your child.