How babies are hardwired, also referred to as temperament, can affect what methods work best to help them learn to sleep.
Temperament is defined as the behavioral style or manner in which a child interacts with the environment. Children often exhibit combinations of temperament qualities such as activity level, persistence, and distractibility (to name a few). Parents can see their baby’s temperament starting to emerge around four months of age after the general fussy period of infancy has diminished.
The goal, when thinking about your baby and sleep, is to consider what is going to calm him or her the most. It is also good to remember that mom and dad need rest too.
So how does this play out in sleep? Here are some things to think about in terms of sleep environment:
- If your baby has a hard time with his or her internal rhythms/clock, you might have to closely look for his or her sleep cues and track sleep times.
- If your baby is sensitive to sounds, then getting a sound machine would be good.
- If your baby is sensitive to light, then make sure the room that he or she sleeps in is very dark.
- If your baby is adaptable and easy going, then safe co-sleeping or room sharing might be nice.
- If your child is very active, the activity level will play out in his or her sleep. If you want to co-sleep without getting kicked as your child moves around, you have a couple of options. You can get a very big bed and place it on the floor so that no one falls out, or consider whether co-sleeping is the best option for your child.
- If your child is alert and vigilant, then again co-sleeping may not be the best option because your movement can stimulate and wake your little one.
Baby temperament and sleep have an interesting relationship. When we understand the ways our children perceive, interact, and interpret their surroundings, we can better understand how to help our little ones sleep.