October 12, 2016 Mary & Suzanne

The Sleep and Babies Series – Part 5

What If Baby’s Sensory Personality Conflicts With Yours?

Whether or not you have thought about it in this way, conflicting sensory personalities between babies and their parents happens. Even the most confident parent can be thrown into a whirlwind of confusion when trying to negotiate personalities that clash!

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Here’s a common scenario:

Mom could be described as having sensory personality traits that lean towards those we have described with the Sensitive baby. Rewinding back to her childhood, she needed a lot of support to stay calm and organized.

Now, mom recognizes that she continues to have sensitivities to touch and sound. She picks clothing that is soft, cuts out the tags of her shirts and avoids being in public places that are too loud. Mom feels most relaxed and focused when she gets enough sleep. She loves to exercise daily because the heavy work helps her to feel happy and not as sensitive to her surroundings.

As luck would have it (and we see this all the time), when she had her first son, he was clearly a Sensitive baby as well. Children often have similar sensory needs to their parents. Her son cried more than the typical baby, slept less and was generally more difficult to soothe. Mom began feeling overwhelmed by her son’s needs because of her own sensitivities. What could she do?? How do we meet baby’s needs for extra help and help mom avoid being overwhelmed by her own sensory sensitivities?

Our first priority is to look for a middle path, where everyone’s needs are met and mom is not feeling stretched beyond her capacity to cope.  In this situation, we use the sensory strategies of slow movement in a baby swing or a mamaRoo, swaddling, pacifier and daily baby massage. Refer to our post about the Sensitive Baby for more detailed information about strategies for this type of sensory personality! We are total fans of sensory strategies, but finding the proper strategy for each sensory personality takes a little detective work! In fact, this is why we wrote our book Baby S.O.S: Sleep Solutions Based on Your Baby’s Sensory Personality! The information is there, in an easy to digest way, so that you are prepared to become your baby’s personal detective!

The swaddle and swing approach to sleep is a great fit for the family in this scenario. Baby gets the calming sensory strategies that he needs and mom feels less burdened by her baby’s increased needs. Everyone gets more sleep and this is essential for this family. For more information on various sleep approaches, visit part 3 of our series here!

We also recommend that mom get out for daily walks with baby in a baby sling that provides compression which often helps a sensitive baby relax. Childcare provided by family, friends or baby sitters is essential during the first few months so mom can exercise,  take a walk by herself or just catch up on some much needed sleep. Some form of relaxation or meditation can make all the difference for a mom with a sensitive sensory personality. Connecting with an experience that is ‘recharging’ is so important for mom to be open and available to the needs of her little one. Without this recharge time, mom may become easily frustrated and lose the ability to ‘read’ her baby’s signals.

Attention to sensory personalities and the type of sensory strategies each mom and baby need can make all the difference in creating a happy, healthy, nicely bonded family system.


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