How Your Child’s Temperament Affects Sleep Training

toddler in crib

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sleep training.

Your child’s temperament affects sleep training success. What works with your first child may not (ok, definitely will not) work with your second, and so on. This can be a harsh reality to come to terms with, especially if your firstborn was a rock star sleeper with minimal effort from you.

But when you understand your child’s temperament and then use that to help figure out a plan that actually helps them to sleep well, it is a game changer.

So, what are the different temperaments?

Research has identified three main categories that we fall into:

1) Easy: adaptable, compliant to routines, calm disposition.

2) Active or feisty: fussy, have unpredictable eating and sleeping patterns, apprehensive of a new environment and new people, intense, easily upset.

3) Slow to warm up or cautious: less engaged or active, shy disposition, may withdraw or have a negative reaction, need repeated exposure to a new environment or person.

Children can be grouped into one of these three categories based on where they fall across nine different attributes:

  • activity level

  • distractibility

  • intensity of emotions

  • regularity

  • sensory threshold

  • tendency to approach versus withdrawing

  • adaptability

  • persistence

  • mood quality

Why does your child’s temperament affect sleep training?

One of the big reasons is for us as parents to adjust our expectations. There is some evidence to suggest that children with “active or feisty” is associated with “longer sleep latency, night wakefulness, and more sleep problems.”

So, if you have one of these kids, no…. you’re not imagining it. They are actually harder to put down.

When we know this, however, we can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not our fault for their inability to sleep well unless being held. You’re not doing anything wrong. These kids are just harder when it comes to sleep.

…so now what?

Once you identify what your child’s temperament is, you can find the right way to approach sleep training that aligns with their specific needs and challenges.

For example, a child with an “easy” temperament will likely do fine with most methods, or you may not even need to sleep train them at all. A child with a “slow to warm up” temperament will most likely do best with a more gradual, parent-present approach to sleep training. While a child with a “feisty” temperament will probably need something a little more hands-off when they’re an infant, and more hands-on when they’re a toddler or preschooler.

So, if the things that you did with your first kid, your friend did with her kid, or your mom did with you aren’t working…. that’s probably because your kid needs something different, and that’s okay.

If you read all of this and you’re like, that’s great, but how do I get my toddler to sleep …. that’s what I’m here for! My client process takes into consideration your child’s specific temperament and personality.

Did you find this helpful? I’d love to hear from you! Reply to this email and tell me what you think your child’s temperament is and how they’re sleeping.

Rest well,



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