Baby temperament and sleep training: does one influence the other? Here are the two types of baby temperaments and tips for better sleep.
A baby’s temperament can make all the difference in whether or not they sleep well. Every child has their own way of coping with and reacting to life’s events.
Like adults, babies have different stress tolerance levels; some are more sensitive to stimuli than others.
When trying to understand why your baby might not be sleeping well, consider looking at his temperament first!
Stay tuned until the end where I discuss five tips for better sleep.
There are two types of sleep temperaments
According to doctors and sleep researchers, there are two types of sleep temperaments in infants: self-soothers and signalers.
Self-soothers are babies who can put themselves back to sleep when they wake up at night. On the other hand, signalers are babies who can’t self-soothe and need adult help to go back to sleep. They tend to fuss and cry when they wake up at night.
Basically, self-soothers are great sleepers, while signalers are more difficult sleepers.
Is my baby a self-soother?
You’ll know that your little one is a self-soother if he is able to easily drift off to sleep at bedtime without much help from your end. He puts himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night with little or no crying. He may depend on positive sleep associations to fall asleep, such as a pacifier, sucking his thumb, cuddling up with a favorite blankie, or bubbling to himself.
He may also sleep for longer periods of time or start sleeping through the night earlier than other kids.
There’s no conclusive evidence that self-soother babies are healthier than signalers. At the end of the day, having a self-soothing baby comes with plenty of benefits for the parent or caregiver.
Infant sleep problems can cause higher levels of distress and depression among caregivers. According to a study, sleep training reduces symptoms of depression in caregivers.
Is my baby a signaler?
If your baby has difficulties falling asleep and wakes up multiple times at night, you have a signaler on your hand. He may wake up crying and stop crying when you go to him to offer comfort. You may also struggle with resetting his sleep routine after a vacation, illness, or developmental milestone.
How to help your little signaler sleep better
Although there’s nothing you can do about your little one’s temperament, there are some strategies for helping him learn self-soothing skills.
Consistency is critical
You may be tired from hearing this, but here it goes:
Consistency is key!
You want to keep naps and sleep at the same time, in the same place, and follow the same routine every day.
Keeping a nap schedule is a great strategy. Let’s say that your child takes his naps at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Make sure he follows the same daily schedule and goes to sleep at the same time every night. Your activities for the day should be organized around your little one’s schedule.
For example, don’t plan to have the neighbor kids over when it’s time for your child’s nap or head to the grocery store during that time.
Follow a routine
The benefits of a bedtime routine are plentiful.
Not only will your baby understand when it’s time to sleep and what this means, but he’ll also fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer hours.
A good way to do this is by doing things like giving him a bath, a nice massage, dimming the lights, and singing a lullaby. This will help him relax and create a sense of predictability and consistency to make him feel safe.
Put him down drowsy but awake
Drowsy but awake means putting your baby to sleep in his crib before he’s sleeping soundly.
Doing so will help teach him how to fall asleep independently without your help.
Rocking him to sleep may look like the easiest way, but it can only worsen your child’s sleep in the long term.
By putting him in her crib while she’s drowsy, you’re teaching him to soothe himself back to sleep when he wakes up at night. If your child is older than four months, put him down awake and not drowsy.
Create positive sleep associations
Does your child have a lovey or another comfort item? If not, now is the time to introduce him to one.
Loveys can be an amazing comfort item that your child can hold on to during bedtime, naptime, or daycare.
If your little one is younger than one, make sure you consult with your pediatrician first about letting him sleep with a comfort object in the crib.
Hire a sleep trainer
As an expert in this field and someone who’s had great success using these techniques myself, I recommend sleep training to all parents struggling with their child’s sleeping habits. Sleep training has been proven to help babies learn how to self-soothe on their own after a few weeks of consistent instruction from the parent.
There is no better time than right now to make a healthy change for you and your family. Getting sleep help customized for your baby’s temperament is only one phone call away. We’ll start with a custom-tailored-to-you plan that takes into account your comfort level, mindset, age and special needs of your baby, family preferences, and ideal outcome. Connect with us today and get a personalized plan for your baby. I’ll be there to guide you every step of the way.