Baby Self-Soothing 101: A Quick Tutorial
Let’s face it, getting babies to sleep can be a little too difficult for us. Oh, if only they can soothe themselves to sleep! Well, the good news is that babies can certainly settle to sleep on their own, and you can teach them just how to do so. Unfortunately, this is no simple process. Often, infants will end up crying if you leave them all alone in their crib for the first time. On the other hand, you may not be able to resist going back in to comfort your child, which is why it is necessary for you to have not only patience but also courage and strength to make the training work. For starters, you can think of this not as an actual training, but a method of letting your child teach themselves to self-soothe.
The first step that you can take to start the self-soothing training is to establish some sort of night routine. For this one, we recommend activities that can calm the baby, such as cuddling, a bath with warm water, or bedtime stories. Keep doing this the activity every evening at about the same time so your child’s internal clock eventually adapts to it. The best time to put your baby to bed after this routine is when they are still awake, albeit drowsy.
The second step is to get your baby used to an early evening feeding session. The objective of this is to break the child’s habit of falling asleep while their mother nurses them. You should also either reduce the length of the feeding period gradually or decrease the milk you are providing them over time. Be on the lookout for signs of drowsiness or falling asleep while feeding at this time. Be sure that they finish the feeding, and then place them in the crib while they are still awake.
Be sure your child is comfortable before you leave their room. You can say soothing words like a simple “good night” before you make a quiet exit. Your baby may likely cry as you leave but listen to them for two minutes without doing anything. At the end of the two minutes, go back to your baby. If you find them standing, be sure to get them to lay down on their back. After this, put your hand on their stomach, observe the bridge of their nose, gently say, “Shhh,” and then get out of the room in a quiet manner.
If the baby still ends up crying, give them four minutes and then repeat the entire process. Keep doing so until the baby finally falls asleep, but be sure to double the waiting time for each instance. Strictly avoid going back to your baby before the waiting time is over. You may feel the urge to do so but fight back by reminding yourself that no harm will turn up with the exercise. Rather, it will help them learn to sleep on their own, and this will help improve the quality of the entire family’s sleep.
Many parents often find their babies unable to get the hang of soothing themselves to sleep. There are many reasons for this. The most common reason is the fact that the child is too young to learn to settle to sleep on their own. Being a common possibility, you should prepare yourself to accept defeat for the mean time and train your baby to self-soothe later in life.
Now, if your child is not learning self-soothing due to the above reason, consider waiting for a period of time before you try training them again. The waiting period depends on the child’s age, but you can experiment waiting for a few days if you are impatient, or a few weeks or months. You can also try putting your baby to bed at an earlier time than usual. This will eliminate the risk of overtiring your baby, which has the consequence of making it a lot harder for them to learn how to soothe themselves to sleep.
You might also want to look into how you handle the training. If you do not follow the wait time rule and would rather check on your baby every few minutes, you are probably taking away from them the opportunity to learn to settle themselves to sleep.