We have big ideas about how we are going to parent and how our babies will respond to us, then our baby comes along and has something else in mind. Your baby probably started to display his temperament as a newborn, and though you are still getting to know him, you probably have a pretty good sense of his personality and temperament by now. You may even have had to alter your expected parenting style based on the reactions of your baby.
There are several personality traits to consider when determining your baby’s temperament.
- Adaptability, how well can he adapt to changes?
- Intensity, how strong are her reactions when she is unhappy or hungry?
- Distractibility, how easily is he distracted from frustration?
- Activity, how much activity does he prefer/tolerate?
- Regularity, how regular is her routine?
- Frustration tolerance, how long will he try something before having a meltdown?
- Approach to new things, how does he handle new situations?
- Mood, is she typically shy, happy, moody, sad?
Based on the answers to the above questions, babies are typically characterized as: easygoing, difficult, or slow to warm.
Approximately 75% of babies are easygoing and they typically sleep well, have a pretty predictable schedule, and lower levels of activity, sensitivity, and intensity.
Approximately 10% of babies are difficult and they are typically oversensitive, irregular, often upset, and have higher activity levels.
Approximately 15% of babies are slow to warm, meaning they are cautious about new situations, clingy to mom and dad, and relatively inactive.
Your baby might not fit precisely into one of these categories. Most of us are somewhere on the continuum and we tend to alternate between different temperaments depending on situations. Your baby is no different. You will need to parent him differently depending on his temperament. Babies who are slow to warm may need a softer approach to new situations, while babies who are very adaptable and crave activity may require more vigilant parenting to keep them safe.
No matter what temperament your baby has, remember it is part of his individuality and it is who he is. Accepting this and adapting your style to his needs as a baby will help both of you in the long run.
Your temperament can be reflected in your baby’s temperament and they are likely to play off each other.
Babies who form a secure bond with their caregivers are more likely to be more well-adjusted as they grow up so it is important to accept who she is and appreciate her uniqueness from the time she is just a little baby!
Neville, H., Johnson, D. (2015) Temperament Tools: Working With Your Child’s Inborn Traits. Parenting Press.
Aron, E. (2002). The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them. Harmony.