We often ask ourselves what is our baby’s temperament, how much is it inherited and how much we can influence it. The famous Nature vs. Nurture debate led to the conclusion that there is a proportion of 50% inherited genes in us and another 50% environment factors which shape our personality. In other words, we don’t know for sure which counts more, but they both have a significant influence.
When it comes to babies, it is quite useful to notice its temperament so you can have an idea how to deal with him or her broadly. In terms of baby sleep training, baby’s temperament is one of the main parameters for choosing a specific settling method.
For instance, if your baby is a touchy one, the sleep consultant could find a gentler settling method more appropriate and focus more on setting the right sleep environment for your baby. Or if your baby is a spirited one, the recommend settling method might be spaced soothing with careful consideration for no external stimulation during their sleep.
In order to find out what type of temperament your baby might be, let’s take a look at these categories the famous Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg compiled:
Angel – is the dream type of temperament, very flexible, easygoing and even-tempered, who quickly adapts to her environment or any other changes in her life. She barely cries and when she does it is quite obvious why and she calms down pretty easy. She is not disturbed by bright lights or loud noises and she it pretty portable / mobile. She is normally a good sleeper who manages to settle herself easy and wakes up without a fuss, who simply drifts off with a pacifier. She is very social baby who smiles at everybody and makes friends easily.
A Textbook baby is very predictable and reaches milestones according to the norms: ex. growth spurt at 6 weeks, roll over by 5 month, sit up by 7 months, stand up by 8/9 months, sleep through the night by 10/11 months, walk by 1 year. Therefore it is very easy for the parents to read his cues. Even if he sometimes has crabby moods, it is quite simple to calm him down. As long as things change slowly and gradually, he gladly cooperates.
Touchy babies are ultrasensitive and easily excitable. They are labelled as “inhibited” or “highly reactive”, with a different internal system. Because they have more of the stress hormones (cortisol and norepinephrine), which activates the fight or flight mechanism, they experience fear more intensely. They are shy and do not make friends easily and they clutch to mom in every new situation. They do not adapt easy in new environments and tend to develop strong separation anxiety. They are great at games which require concentration and alone playing and often become good students.
Spirited babies – are very active and vocal, labelled as “high reactors”. They love stimulation and are drawn to everything that bangs, pops or flashes. They eat well but can’t stay still very long. As toddlers they could be aggressive (fist-fighting, biting and pushing other children) and get often in dangerous situations. They are challenging kids for their parents but with proper education and care can become natural leaders. The hardest part is getting them to channel their wonderful energy.
Grumpy babies – are quite moody, vocal and irritable. They don’t look very happy.
They need a structured routine more than any other type of baby. They can be quite stubborn, do not cooperate when breast-fed and are slow with accepting solid food. They are very inpatient babies but they teach patience to their parents, testing their limits regularly. They are not very sociable kids. As adults they tend to be more independent and good at taking care and amusing themselves.
If you haven’t figured it out yet which temperament your child might be, contact me and I will send you a helpful baby temperament quiz.