How your child's temperament affects their sleep

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Every baby has a different temperament which means that every baby is different in regards to sleep and how they respond to different settling methods. Some babies need a bit more support to fall asleep while others can get overstimulated when mum or dad is in the same room. Some babies sleep through the night from birth and others still wake up when they’re 3 years old.

This is only a problem if it is a problem for you as a parent and know that no matter what your baby’s temperament there is a sleep settling method they will respond to. Knowing your baby’s temperament is so important to find a sleep settling method that will work for your family and ensure everyone gets the rest they deserve. According to Tracy Hogg babies usually fall into one of the following categories when it comes to their temperament.


Angel babies are laid back babies that can quite easily fall into a routine and are quite adaptable. Change does not bother them much and they are not quick to cry. They are quite easy to read, so responding to their needs is less challenging. Angel babies are usually quite social so taking them on outings is easy.

In terms of sleep, angel babies are able to self settle and don’t take long to wind down and go to sleep. They are good nappers and sleep long stretches at night from as early as 6 weeks. This means that angel babies don’t need a lot of help with sleep and are able to self-settle from a very young age.


Textbook babies are known for meeting their milestones exactly when they are supposed to. They are very predictable which makes them very easy to read. They are not as great with change as angel babies but if new things are introduced gradually they can handle change well too. They are pretty independent babies and are able to handle new environments fairly well.

It takes them about 20 minutes to wind down for sleep, which is pretty average for most babies. They will only require extra calming measures from a parent if they are overstimulated. Textbook babies usually start sleeping through the night by about 3 months.

To ensure good sleep for textbook babies, it is best to follow a set routine and keep an eye on awake windows to ensure your baby does not get overtired. Textbook babies will respond well to gentle in-room settling, as well as out of the room methods as long as you are consistent and follow a good routine.


Touchy babies are sensitive and easily excitable babies. They don’t like loud noises and bright lights. They often cry and don’t like change. New things have to be introduced very slowly. According to studies their internal systems are different from that of other babies, they experience emotions such as fear more intensely than others. They are shy around others and quite attached to their main carer. They tend to be good students as they get older since they are good at concentrating.

For touchy babies to sleep well it is important to swaddle them properly and block out lights or any other things that could distract them when it’s time to sleep. They take about 20 minutes to wind down and go to sleep but if their sleep cues are missed, it could take twice as long. They are good at napping in the morning and tend to catnap in the afternoon. For touchy babies a good wind-down ritual is important, and since they are a bit more anxious about change, a gentle in-room method might work better for a touchy baby.


Spirited babies tend to be more aggressive and vocal than other babies. They like to be the center of attention and don’t shy away from challenges. They are attracted to loud toys as they love to be stimulated. They are very active babies and can show aggression towards other children. However, If their energy is channelled right, they can become leaders and visionaries later in life.

When it comes to sleeping, they are pretty bad sleepers. They don’t like being swaddled but it is vital to block out any visual stimulation. Since they don’t want to miss out on anything, getting them to sleep whether during the day or night is difficult. They tend to catnap in the morning, followed by a longer snooze in the afternoon. They might respond better to an out-of room settling method as they can get overstimulated easily and might get worked up with a parent in the room.


Grumpy babies can be quite irritable and are not good with change. They like routine and get upset easily when new things are introduced. They are usually picky eaters and getting them to latch on properly when breastfeeding can be challenging. They prefer playing on their own but can be social when they want to be. They are usually headstrong babies and are no pushovers. As they get older they become quite independent and are able to entertain themselves easily.

Grumpy babies don’t settle easily for sleep. They tend to become overtired and tend to catnap during the day. They also don’t like to be swaddled. A good routine and consistency are key with a grumpy baby. As they don’t adapt well to change a more gentle method with lots of support from a parent might work better for grumpy babies.

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