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Personality Primer

By the time she's 4 or 5 months old, your baby's personality will start to shine through -- and it can clue you in to what's making her anxious or irritable. Pick the characteristics that best fit her temperament (there may be more than one). Then, try these tips to keep her (and you!) happier.

Shy/fearful
Key temperament traits: Often clingy and anxious
Challenges: Meeting new people; being around large groups; Saying goodbye to a parent at daycare or with a babysitter
Soothing strategies: Don't force her to interact with others (but don't shield her entirely from people-gently introduce her to new social situations). Establish regular rituals for daycare dropoffs. If you throw her a first birthday party, limit the guest list to family.

Easily irritated
Key temperament traits: Eager to have his own way, this baby frequently cries out of frustration.
Challenges: Toys that are tough to figure out; leaving playtime and other fun situations; changes in routine
Soothing strategies: Although sometimes highly sociable (he could also be shy), this baby's tantrum-prone, so try to develop a thick skin! It'll help if you allow him plenty of transition time between activities. Don't let him touch toys or books at a store if you're not buying them. Try as best you can to stick to soothing routines.

Sensitive
Key temperament traits: Easily gets fussy and bothered
Challenges: Uncomfortable clothing; feeling too hot or too cold; noisy, brightly lit places
Soothing strategies: Avoid scratchy fabrics like wool, cut tags out of clothing, and dress her in layers. Keep shopping trips short; this baby can quickly get overwhelmed and cranky.

Happy-go-lucky
Key temperament traits: Easygoing and quick to smile
Challenges: Very few. However, even a happy-go-lucky child can have a second temperamental trait -- see "Active," for instance.
Soothing strategies: Count yourself lucky! This angelic baby rarely needs special handling.

Active
Key temperament traits: Always on the go; hates to stay still
Challenges: Sitting quietly for lengthy periods -- say, in a restaurant; being restrained in a high chair
Soothing strategies: When driving long distances, make frequent stops to let your baby out of her seat. Provide her with age-appropriate toys that make use of her boundless energy, such as bouncing balls and sporting equipment.

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