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Sarah Norris – The Baby Detective

Learning to Read Your Baby’s Personality.
February 1, 2015

Learning to Read Your Baby’s Personality.

Learning to Read Your Baby’s Personality

After so long as a maternity nurse I have heard pretty much everything but I think one of the most frequent comments goes along the lines of ‘aren’t babies all the same?. I still smile every time, especially if it is first time parents, because I know they are in for the most wonderful surprise.

The simple fact is that babies are not all the same. They are born with distinct personalities, knowing exactly who they are and you, as the parent have the fun job of trying to figure that out…without instructions.

Your baby’s personality will be wonderfully unique, right from the very second of conception and some character traits can even show themselves in the womb such as activity levels or restlessness.

From the moment they are born their characters are evidant. Some seem overwhelmed by it all, keep their eyes tight shut and want to be held and left alone to recover, some look bleary eyed and hung over, others act as if feeding was the sole purpose of their existence, latch on to the breast like a limpet and feed for an hour. Yet others may come out, fix you with such an intelligent, knowing look that you wouldn’t be surprised if they started a conversation. You see a range of emotions from fear, nervousness, upset, calm, curious, angry, peaceful….I’ve seen all these emotions and they never fail to move me.

Hopefully you will be able to see something of their personality very early on and I say hopefully, not just for your benefit, but for theirs because the sooner you see them as individuals the sooner you will start to treat them as a real little human and not just as ‘baby’, and give them not only the love, but the consideration and respect they deserve.

Obviously their characters aren’t as fully developed as a 3 year old or an adult but the basics are there and identifying these basics will not only provide real joy and help your relationship grow, they will help you understand and meet your babies needs very early on. This, in turn, will help you expertly manage every aspect of their care and routines making your lives, and theirs, much easier.

 

Basic Baby Character Traits Evident From Birth.

The basic traits I am talking about that are visible from birth include patience levels, pain tolerance, sleep needs, activity levels, confidence, insecurity, nerviness, noise sensitivity, calmness etc.

Some of these we can see immediately but others only start to show themselves after the first 2 sleepy weeks when baby may do nothing more than sleep and eat whilst they recover from the birth. This can lead to disappointment later as parents think they have a perfectly easy angel-baby so just enjoy this quiet time, use it to recover and readjust, but don’t be surprised when things start to change (and angel-baby grows horns !).

It really is endlessly fascinating watching their characters unfold in front of your eyes and I never tire of seeing it.

If you look closely you can see character traits of parents or other relatives, expressions and mannerisms that you recognise alongside others that are totally unique.

I worked with one family and mentioned how cute the baby looked when he slept because he drew his hands up under his chin like little squirrel paws and the mother smiled and nodded quietly in the direction of that father and whispered that that was how he slept 🙂

The sooner you learn about your baby’s personality the sooner you can apply this to your daily interactions and use it to help you and your baby because different character traits require different management techniques.

Tummy Pain

For example, a baby with a high pain threshold will cope better with stomach wind after a feed and may, after initial winding, be left to try and bring up the rest of the wind by himself. However, leaving a baby with a lower pain threshold in the same way would cause real suffering and distress so you would have to spend a lot of time trying to get every last bit of wind out to make them comfortable.

 Noise.

A baby with little noise sensitivity can be left to sleep in silence (though it is never a good idea to tiptoe around them) but the more noise sensitive baby would benefit from background music/white noise or radio to protect and cushion them from sudden or loud noises. This background noise is also helpful as it trains them to be less sensitive which is vital because if you tiptoe around them the baby will never learn to cope with noise. This can become a real problem when second baby comes along making lots of noise, and older child may struggle to cope with stressful noise as well as the arrival of ‘competition’. You may also find yourself severely restricted as to when you can leave the house because your baby would have to be back home in his quiet nursery to ever get to sleep.

Patience.

An impatient baby will require you to have either a bottle or a breast ready to feed them as soon as they wake up, especially if they have a loud scream (which they usually do!) and are totally outraged at having to wait even a few second. I call these the ‘0 to 60’ babies because they are like the cars that can go from standstill to 60 mph in just a few seconds!

A more patient baby will maybe squeal or grunt quietly, or wriggle a bit and wake up slowly giving you 10 or 20 minutes to prepare the bottle before they start getting upset giving you much more leeway and flexibility.

Emotions.

The baby’s emotions can make a big difference to how you manage them.

A recent client’s baby was getting very upset at every feed making the parents very stressed. I pointed out that it wasn’t so much the fact that she got upset, the problem was that once she had got upset she couldn’t calm down very easily.

The Mum looked over at the Dad who held up his hands, laughed and said “yes, ok, that is my fault, she gets that from me”. Not only did the parents then quickly learn to intervene and calm the baby down before she reached meltdown, it also helped them to understand that she wasn’t being unreasonably difficult, she was struggling to deal with an inherited character trait that even grown adults struggled with.

Conclusion.

I can’t stress enough that baby’s personality will, and should, impact on every aspect of your care of them.

Take the time to study them, just as you would when meeting a new work colleague or family member’s new partner.

Watch them as they sleep and dream, notice how they wake up or go to sleep, how they react to noise, light, hunger, cuddles, sudden movements, wind, feeding etc.

Learn how they react to everything around them and then think about how that might affect how you care for, and interact with them e.g. how can you make them more relaxed? More comfortable physically? How can you make them feel more secure?

It’s not a science, or anything an expert can teach you, it just comes with caring enough to become more aware of your baby as a person in their own right and that way you can adapt your management of them according to your baby’s particular personality so that they are understood, and their individual needs are met.

Getting to really know your baby will not only make your life with them a great deal easier, it will make you a more confident and competent parent and it also makes it so much more fun as you see their character develop in front of you.

 

The Author

I’m Sarah Norris, a Baby Care Consultant and Parenting Coach.

I have spent over twenty five years, often working 24 hours, 6 days a week, supporting hundreds of families with new or young babies aged from newborn to 12 months old, and often helping with their toddlers and older children.

I help parents discover what parenting style they want to use to care for their baby, and offer advice on different approaches that might suit them and their circumstances best.

18 Comments

  1. saffy

    I wish I could have read something like this 4.5 years ago! My boy was never ever still, even in utero and still isn’t now! I could have prepared myself for his need for 100% stimulation all of the time and never wanting to go to sleep – and falling out of bed when he does! 🙂 #sharewithme
    saffy recently posted…Funny words

    Reply
    • Babyfriend

      Thanks Saffy, I wish everyone could read it before they have a baby so they can be prepared for whoever their baby turns out to be.
      It sounds like you have your hands full with your boy, and I can just imagine your frustration, getting him to sleep only to have him fall out of bed lol,
      Sarah x

  2. Emma's Mamma

    Great post! Even though my 17 month old daughter says a few words, most of it is just sounds, but I always know what she wants! Probably because we spend pretty much every waking minute together! I definitely agree, every baby I have met has always been different 🙂 #sharewithme
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…17 months

    Reply
    • Babyfriend

      Hi Emma’s Mamma, its lovely that you understand your daughters language 🙂 I love getting to know all the different baby personalities, though I am less enamoured of my current charge who has been playing ‘hide the burp’ ALL day and so I have barely got anything done ! Oh well, having been awake all day, she will sleep well tonight lol,
      Sarah x

    • Babyfriend

      Thanks, Chantelle, glad to have been a help 🙂
      Sarah x

  3. Emma AKA SIze15Stylist

    Thanks for a lovely post on reading your baby’s personality – my daughter is an introvert, as both Daddy and I were in our childhood. However, now we are both quite chatty and sociable, so it was quite a shock to find that nursery thought our daughter err’d towards naughty. We had to have a chat and talk about the introverted personality that she had inherited, and instead of being defiant, she literally she was frozen with fear in some social situations. Getting on much better now in nursery!
    Emma AKA SIze15Stylist recently posted…How to declutter your mind (as a parent blogger)

    Reply
    • Babyfriend

      Hi Emma, I am so glad that you were aware of how personality type can affect behaviour and were able to sort this out so early, as I know how labels can follow a child throughout their school life. It will help your daughter so much to be able to hear that you both felt the same way, but that you found a way to cope, and get through the shyness and be more confident….you will be the perfect role model for her 🙂 x
      Sarah x

  4. Jen @ 4,128 miles

    Wow this is fascinating and not something I’d really given much thought to. It makes a lot of sense and I will be looking out for these ‘traits’ as soon as number 2 comes along in November. My first little man is now 2 years old, so I hope that I understand him a great deal now. That said the early days were hard! Great post. Visiting from #picknmix
    Jen @ 4,128 miles recently posted…TEMPUS FUGIT

    Reply
    • Babyfriend

      Hi Jen. Glad you found it interesting.
      when I go to a new job I get to see the parents personalities from an objective perspective so I can point out to them, not only their babies personality, but also how all their personalities are reacting and interacting.
      This helps them see their baby as a real little person who is behaving a certain way for a reason, not just random baby behaviour and once they know this they can plan their parenting strategies much more easily and efficiently.
      Sarah x
      Just read your post, Tempus Fugit and enjoyed it very much. I love your style of writing and will be following your blog. thanks for stopping by x

  5. Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

    My wife’s answers to questions about our baby’s personality is to say he takes after me…in all the bad ways, of course. He’s certainly never had any patience, since he was tiny. It could be fair to say I struggle a little in the patience department also. Maybe.

    #bigfatlinky
    Mama, My Kid Doesn’t Poop Rainbows recently posted…The Three Stages of Baby Play Dates

    Reply
    • Babyfriend

      lol ! I have heard this attribution of good and bad personality traits between parents before so many times and it is so funny hearing people trying to deny it and wriggle out of it, but then (usually) give in and admit it.
      It does help sometimes though, when a baby is driving you mad, to recognise that your baby is actually reacting in the same way you would in a similar situation. Somehow it takes the sting out of the situation and makes it easier to understand and to deal with.
      Sarah.x
      I follow your blog so am off now to read your linky offering 🙂 x

  6. Jenny

    Ahhh so much helpful information for a new mom and even those that have little ones still Thank you for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Siblings {August}

    Reply
  7. A Cornish Mum

    I loved it when my boys’ little personalities started to show and despite only 19 months between them they couldn’t have been or be more different! Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…Springfields Fun Park

    Reply
  8. Tamsin

    Great post! Esme never used to be sensitive to noise, but as she reached around 12 weeks she started to thrash around whenever I moved in bed!
    I moved her to her own room and she sleeps fine! 🙂

    Reply
    • Babyfriend

      Hi Tamsin, that noise sensitivity can be a real nuisance when you are trying to get them to sleep, or stay asleep !
      If you wanted to keep baby in the room with you I have found that a noise app on my phone that plays a loop of waves crashing on a beach works real well for covering up accidental noises, and help lull baby in to a deep sleep.
      It is also relaxing for me too, and doesn’t annoy me like some music does. The other thing that helps is leaving a radio on in the background.
      It’s crazy how these babies suddenly change what bothers them…..always a game of catch-up !
      Sarah x

  9. Vibhuti

    So much lovely and useful information for a new mother and even for those who still have children.

    Reply

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