How sensitive is your baby to her environment?
“The difference between a sensitive and chilled baby is how strongly she reacts (or not) to environmental changes,” explains Nicole. “So a sensitive baby will often react strongly to noises such as hand-dryers or people shouting, and get upset. She may find it hard to sleep if it’s too light in her room or if she’s put down from your warm arms onto cold sheets. These things won’t bother chilled babies. Responsive babies might notice and fuss at some changes, but not as regularly or as emphatically as sensitive babies.”
Help your sensitive baby sleep better
“Your sensitive baby is finely tuned to what’s going on,” says Nicole. “That’s great, because she’s observant and switched-on, but this means she has a tendency to be a light sleeper and take longer to unwind in the evening. She needs a longer bedtime routine than other babies to help settle her into sleep: if the average baby needs between 15 and 30 minutes, your sensitive baby might need 30 to 40 minutes, and a sensitive toddler even longer.”
A longer bedtime routine will help your sensitive baby unwind, work through any disturbances or new experiences she’s had during the day, and get used to being in her (or your) bedroom. It can really help if you spend some time doing some gentle play in the room she sleeps in before starting the bedtime routine. With a young baby, try looking at a tactile book together; with a toddler spend a few minutes doing some colouring in. Gentle activities such as these will help prepare your child for a calm and contented night’s sleep.
“These children are often sensitive to loud sounds, so it’s a good idea to use white noise throughout the night to help her block out other sounds,” says Nicole. “If you can, keep the bedroom door shut, so she’s not disturbed by the rest of the family. Stick to familiar fabrics: if she’s used to cotton sheets, she’ll be upset if you switch to flannelette ones. And if she’s less than four months old, she may respond well to being swaddled. This will help her feel secure and keep her temperature fairly constant, which she’ll prefer.”