Clueing into Your Baby’s Temperament

Before we even experience meeting our baby for the first time, we start to wonder… what will my baby be like? Will she have my hair and her father’s eyes? We will she be shy or outgoing? Even days after meet this new addition to the world, we are able to start answering some of those questions.

Each baby has their own temperament

Who we are and how we react to the world can be tied to what is called temperament. Temperament is the our way of being in the world based on our biology and influenced some by our experiences. Learning to read your baby’s cues early on offers insights into her temperament, and clues to the baby personality that is developing.

Generally, 60% of us fall into one of three categories of temperaments… slow to warm, difficult, or easy going.


60% of newborns fall into three categories of temperaments – slow to warm, difficult, or easy going.

Additionally, Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess identified sub-dimensions of temperament, or baby personality, which offer additional insight on how your baby interacts with her environment and the people around her.

Activity Level: how active is your baby? Is she content playing on the floor watching the special items on her mobile, or does he want to be held all the time, or is constantly moving?

Predictability: how predicable is his feed to sleep schedule? Is there a predictable pattern of time, or does every day seem different?

Adapting to new situations: does she adjust easily to changes and transitions, say from waking up, or does she need to time to adjust to what is coming next and what is going on around her?

Sensory sensitivity: this dimension often ties into the “Heh” cry with the skin discomfort reflex. How sensitive is she to sound, light, wet diapers or touch? Does she seem to have something bothering her all the time, and it’s hard to figure out, or does she not seem to notice too much of these aspects around her?

Intensity: how intense is her cry when she is upset or she has a need? Does she have a good set of lungs behind her and she jumps from the pre-cry stage to crying in seconds, and may take awhile to get to calm, or does she have little pre-cry whimpers through the day?

How focused is your baby? Does she stay focused on the characters on her mobile, or is she always looking around and focusing on different items in the environment?

There is no right or wrong, good, or bad side with these aspects of temperament. Each of these above applies to adults as well. Our temperaments are in part innate, and will never leave. Our experiences shape some of our responses and may heighten some dimensions and lessen others.

Learning the baby personality early on can lead to less stress in the later years of parenting. When you notice your baby needs some time to adjust to new people and situations, you can plan for this. Just as adults, if we know we get nervous when going into a new situation, we will give ourselves time to arrive early, check out the situation, observe for a bit, then decide when we feel comfortable to join in a group or conversation.

Temperaments are the map of our individuality. Some of the dimensions will be easier for you to support than others, so be patient, and enjoy this journey with your child.


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