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Understanding Child's Temperament

Learn how temperament in infants can impact their development and behaviour. Discover the different dimensions of infant temperament, the three broad categories of child temperament, and parenting strategies to meet the needs of infants with different temperamental profiles. Gain valuable insights to promote your infant’s growth and development.

  • Highly active infants: Provide plenty of opportunities for physical play and exploration, and ensure that the environment is safe and secure.
  • Easily overstimulated infants: Provide a calm and quiet environment, and avoid overloading them with sensory input. Develop a consistent bedtime routine to help them settle down for sleep.
  • Fussy or irritable infants: Provide plenty of positive attention and affection, and try to identify and address any underlying sources of discomfort, such as hunger or diaper rash.

What is Temperament?

Temperament refers to an individual’s innate and enduring patterns of behaviour, emotion, and attention. In infants and young children, temperament can play a significant role in their development and can have an impact on their later psychological functioning. In this blog, we will discuss in depth the temperament of babies and its effect on their development and behaviour.

Infant Temperament:

Infant temperament can be described in terms of several different dimensions, including activity level, mood, attention span, and sensitivity to stimulation.

These different dimensions of temperament can interact in complex ways, and babies may display a range of different temperamental profiles. For example, one infant may be highly active, but also very content and happy, while another infant may be highly active and easily overstimulated, leading to fussiness and irritability.

Child temperament refers to a child’s behavioural style and can be observed from a very young age. A child’s temperament is determined by their genes and early life experiences and is thought to be relatively stable over time.

Categories of Temperament

There are several different ways to categorize child temperament, but one common approach is to divide children into three broad groups: easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm-up.

Easy temperament

Children with an easy temperament are generally happy, adaptable, and have a positive mood. They tend to be easy to soothe when they become upset and are usually able to regulate their emotions well. They also tend to have regular sleeping and eating habits and can adapt well to new situations. Children with an easy temperament may be described as “flexible” or “laid-back.”

Difficult temperament

Children with a difficult temperament tend to be fussy, easily upset, and have irregular sleeping and eating patterns. They may be intense in their emotional reactions, and have difficulty adapting to new situations. Children with a difficult temperament may be described as “high-maintenance” or “challenging.” However, it’s important to note that these children are not necessarily “difficult” in a negative sense – they simply require more support and attention from their caregivers.

Slow-to-warm-up temperament

Children with a slow-to-warm-up temperament tend to be hesitant or shy when it comes to new experiences. They may have a low activity level, and take a while to warm up to new people or situations. However, once they feel comfortable, they may become quite sociable and engaged. Children with a slow-to-warm-up temperament may be described as “cautious” or “observant.”

Why understanding Child’s temperament is important?

Understanding a child’s temperament can be helpful for parents, caregivers, and educators in supporting the child’s social and emotional development. By recognizing a child’s strengths and challenges, caregivers can tailor their approach to best support the child’s needs.

Impact on Development:

Infant temperament can have a significant impact on their development and behaviour. For example, highly active babies may be more likely to engage in physical play and exploration, while more laid-back babies may be content to observe their environment. Babies who are easily overstimulated may have difficulty settling down for sleep or may be prone to tantrums when they become overwhelmed. Babies who are generally happy and content may be more open to social interaction and may be more likely to form positive relationships with others.

As infants grow and develop, their temperament may become more stable and predictable, although it is important to note that temperament can still be influenced by environmental factors, such as parenting style or life experiences.

Parenting Strategies:

Understanding your infant’s temperament can help you tailor your parenting strategies to meet their needs. Some strategies that may be helpful for infants with different temperamental profiles include:

Infants with a short attention span: Provide simple and engaging toys or activities that can hold their interest, and avoid overwhelming them with too many stimuli at once.

Infants who are sensitive to stimulation: Provide a calming environment, with low levels of noise and light. Use gentle and soothing touch to comfort them when they become overwhelmed.


In conclusion, understanding your infant’s temperament can be a helpful tool for parents and caregivers in promoting their development and well-being. By tailoring your parenting strategies to meet your infant’s needs and temperament, you can help ensure that they grow and develop healthily and positively. Remember that temperament is a complex and multifaceted concept, and that your infant’s temperament may change over time or be influenced by environmental factors. With patience, love, and a willingness to adapt, you can help support your infant’s growth and development, no matter their temperament.

Author: Dr. Malhar Mone, M.B.B.S

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