All children vary in personality and temperament, it is naturally just part of who they are. In fact, some of the midwives and health visitors that I know, claim to be able to tell a child’s personality right from when they are new born!
Some children are naturally more active than others and are always on the go exploring everything around them, whilst others are content to sit back and let the world wash over them. Some are strong-willed and determined, whilst others are more placid, easy-going and accepting.
Each type brings their own unique set of joys and challenges to parents! However, it seems that unusually alert, bright, and aware children tend to have a little more trouble than others when it comes to learning to sleep.
Recognising an alert child
Alert children take everything in and are constantly processing what they see. Even from a very young age, they are taking notes on the world around them and working everything out. You can see that their eyes are just drinking in the world around them, and often people comment on how alert they are.
Alert types often reach their physical milestones like crawling or walking a little earlier than other children because they have been watching, learning and processing what is going on around them. Alert children may sit at around 4 months of age, crawl before they are 6 months, and walk at around 10 or 11 months.
Alert children are so focussed and on the world around them that they may even need to feed in a quiet dim environment so that they aren’t distracted from taking a feed!
Parenting an alert or super alert child
If you are a parent of an alert or super alert child, you will probably already know that these little ones are slightly temperamentally different from other children.
Alert children are super strong-willed and sure of themselves and whilst these are all great qualities in adults (and you will be so thankful of them in these gifts in the future!) it can be a little daunting to parent such a determined little person.
These children tend to be the ones who know what they want, when they want it and they are totally prepared to hold out no matter how long it may take to get it.
Struggling to sleep
This steely will, coupled with their fascination with the world around them, will make it harder for alert children to switch off and to learn to sleep. But rest assured, it does not mean they cannot learn to sleep.
It may take them a little longer than other children and they will test you a bit more (you are going to have to be especially patient and consistent) but it will come if you stick to it.
Consistency is going to be your best friend. There is absolutely no room for wavering with these personality types.
5 sleep success secrets for alert children
So here are my 5 top tips for helping alert and super alert children to sleep:
1) Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an alert child needs less sleep than average. They need just as much sleep as any other baby or child (in fact, maybe even a little more than average as their brains are so active) they just have a harder time shutting out the world in order to get the sleep that they need. Don’t be fooled by nap resistance and don’t be tempted to drop a nap too early, these alert children need their sleep.
2) Help them to wind down by making the room as dark as possible. Black out blinds or curtains, room darkening shades and dim light bulbs or nightlights are really important for these babies and children. Ensuring that their sleep environment is not too busy and stimulating with colours, toys, music and so on will also help them.
3) Consider blocking out any distracting noise or sounds with a white noise machine when settling them for sleep or naps. Any sounds from within the house, or even outside in the street, may be enough to disturb their efforts of falling to sleep and stimulate them again.
4) Be extremely vigilant about watching their sleep windows and look out for their sleep cues. Alert children are masters of hiding their tiredness and will have you believe that they don’t need as much sleep, whereas they actually need more sleep than their peers. With so much to see and do, they don’t want to appear sleepy as they might miss something!
5) Alert children tend to be less flexible sleepers for several years, so they can be extra sensitive to disruptions of routine or travel. Plan ahead how you will manage these routine busters and put extra measures in place before you go and when you return.
Bonus tip – If your little one is finding it really hard to wind down before bedtime, try to include a warm bath, massage with baby oil or lotion to calm their little bodies, and perhaps some quiet calming music or story to wind them down. There are some fantastic guided meditations available for children that really help to calm and soothe a busy mind, ready for sleep.
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