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Baby Temperament's - what are they and what do they mean for sleep and settling?

Understanding your baby's temperament will help you learn how best to set up their sleep environment, identify tired cues, how to support and settle them and what they might go through with change and developmental milestones.


Just like us as adults, each baby has a certain temperament. You might have noticed that your friends 6 month old is a lot quieter than yours; maybe they cry less or are less involved in sensory play. By learning about your little one's temperament we can support them and ensure their individual needs and personalities are met. If your baby is highly sensitive they might find it hard to get into a routine, their response to change of any sort comes with resistance as does their ability to learn how to settle independently. If your little love is easy going and has low sensitivity they will be easily adaptable to change and this makes implementing a routine or settling method slightly easier.


Nature and nuture go hand in hand. Your baby is born with a temperament but this is also impacted by experiences, opportunities, exposure to events and the people in their life. Babies brains are little sponges which absorb everything they see, smell, hear, touch and experience. As adults our behaviour can impact and modify their temperament, both positively and negatively.


"Every baby's emotional makeup is predetermined, at least in part, by his biology, genes and brain chemistry" - Tracey Hogg


Tracey Hogg, was a British nurse and "baby whisperer" has written numerous best selling books around infant and child sleep, feeding and behaviour. She identified that baby's have different temperaments which required different responses from carers as below.


What are the 5 different temperament's in a baby?

  • Angel

  • Textbook

  • Touchy

  • Spirited

  • Grumpy

An Angel child is just that, a dream child who easily adapts to her new environment and to whatever new things are thrown her way. An Angel baby will go down to sleep by herself early on and have good naps and sleep long stretches at night.


A Textbook baby is one that has reached every milestone to the day. He’s very predictable and it's easy to read his cues. In terms of sleep, a Textbook baby will take awhile to fall asleep and make the transition from being tired to settling into a deep sleep. They often need a bit more assistance in getting to sleep.


A Touchy baby is ultrasensitive, easily over stimulated and can become excitable quickly. She may be affected by a change in sensory environment and cry a lot; at a loud noise, bright light or for no reason at all. A Touchy baby settles well when swaddled and removed from a stimulating environment. She may be incredibly difficult to get to sleep if left to become over tired, hence why a routine can help babies with this temperament.


Spirited baby is very vocal. They need their extra energy channelled positively. Spirited babies tend to be resistent to naps and night time sleep, as they have a fear of missing out!


A Grumpy baby can become irritable and cry often, for no apparent reason. Grumpy babies will resist naps, becoming so over tired that they have to fuss themselves to sleep. They often become serial cat nappers, setting of a vicious cycle that is difficult to change. You might find that your grumpy baby doesn't enjoy bath time or getting dressed.


"You can’t change your child’s temperament. Your child is who they are, and that’s great. But you can nurture your child’s development by adapting your parenting to your child’s temperament. You can help your child develop the positive parts of their temperament. And you can understand the situations that your child might find hard because of their temperament, and help them learn how to handle these situations" - Raising Children, AU

Your baby might have traits from two different temperaments. They might also change and develop new areas to their personalities which impact their behaviour and settling. Understanding their needs, how best to respond, and what is supportive or over stimulating will help you, as a parent, to settle them for sleep and comfort them when they need you.


If you need any additional information or support please feel free to contact me at amy@littledreamers.co.nz to book in a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to talk about what is happening for your little one and how we can help.



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