Self Soothing to Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night
is the key
to help your baby sleep
. But what if putting down
awake just doesn't work (and it often doesn't!)? You may find
your baby crying unless you rock, hold or nurse her to help with
How to wean from this habit - without
needing to cry it out
Why is self soothing so important?
Because no one (babies and adults) ever really sleeps through.
Our sleep comes in cycles:
we go through the different stages of sleep
several times a night. In-between cycles, there is a brief awake moment.
The skill to settle ourselves helps us go
back to sleep without waking up completely.
cannot self soothe yet will
wake up completely at that
moment, need your attention and possibly cry.
A baby who can easily settle herself to sleep
can be put down awake and sleeps.
And when waking up at night, she is able to go back to sleep without
The importance of self soothing explains the all-time classic sleep
her down awake
Indeed, in the ideal world, she is put down awake and then sleeps
She will then most probably also soothe and settle herself back when
wakes during the night.
But most babies need time, and our
, to learn how to soothe
Gentle Self Soothing Method
The method described here is specific for when
you usually hold your little one to help with settling.
For full details and guidance to help wean from nursing,
holding, rocking, in the swing, co-sleeping, having you near, ...
refer to the unique 3-step
guide to wean from any dependent sleep situation
Unless your baby is a natural self-soother, the age at which you can
expect her to self soothe * really and
consistently * can vary from anywhere between 3-4 months old up to 1
year old or later for some.
At any time, it is important to do the preliminaries ("setting the
stage") and to try and encourage your little one to
settle alone. But if it doesn't work easily, trying to force things in
the wrong way will be a waste of time and harm future success.
proven no-tears method
to teach your baby how to
self soothe is not complicated:
It requires patience but gives the
results. This is both for when going to bed for nap or
night, or when waking up at night.
If your baby does not fall asleep by herself easily, you may find
yourself holding, rocking, feeding or nursing her to help with settling. It may
actually be the only way to get your newborn or young baby to sleep at all.
Do not feel bad about it - getting some, any, sleep at all is most important. So
do hold and put her down asleep when needed.
But be on the alert, and regularly try to wean
from this habit with the
gentle self soothing method
(full technique details in the downloadable guide in the link above):
At first, you put her down deeply asleep: her breathing has become very
slow and regular and she is lying absolutely still.
this deep sleep stage is reached after 20-30 minutes. You may want to
time this if you are unsure of the signs. Make it longer if she still
wakes when put down.
Then, little by little, put her down a bit
earlier, just a minute or two at first. Then, a few nights/naps later,
put her down earlier again. In this way, you gently move from putting
her down asleep, towards half asleep, drowsy, less drowsy, ... and
You will need to do this several (many for some) times in a row, or
wait for a few
weeks if it doesn't work at all. But when your baby is ready and she
feels your determination - she
will do it.
Also think about:
- A bedtime
quiet dim nights: a bedtime routine helps your child
recognize time-to-sleep signals and physically helps her body to get
ready for the night. Keeping nights and interaction dim and low at night is
crucial to keep her ready to go on sleeping without waking up completely.
nightlight: a dim but visible night light helps reassure
and that may be all she needs to go back to sleep when waking
presence: for some babies, knowing that you are around
(sitting next to the crib, or walking around her room, or the corridor)
may be enough reassurance to allow self soothing.
transitional object: a soft cuddly toy, blanket or cloth
can become your baby's best friend. If it is near her when she wakes
up, it can truly help her settle again. Crib
require not to put anything in the crib
with your baby in the first months.
Even if a
particular object may only truly become a transitional object from 8
months or so, it is good to introduce it early. For safety then, choose
a toy you can attach safely to the crib sides so baby can feel
it, touch it and
smell it, but cannot pull it close or get entangled in it.
a little scarf or clothon
yourself during the day (so it has your smell). Then hang it near her
for naps and nights. Smelling you will remind your little one of you
that can be a powerful soother!
musical mobile or toy: safely attached it cannot be pulled
into the crib, a musical mobile helps some
babies sleep very well. If you can find one that attaches to the side,
and that baby can operate (for example by pulling a string - as in the
picture) alone, that can work wonderfully well.
As baby grows, she will
learn to switch it on herself. If she is used to hear it at bedtime, it
can help with self soothing a lot.
pacifier: some babies thrive with a dummy. Do be careful
when she becomes too dependent or you may find yourself running over to
the crib to help find the dummy and put it back in her mouth ...
Of course, some (friends, family members or even pediatricians) will
as an "efficient" - forcing - way to teach how to
settle down alone ... But crying it out rarely gives lasting results,
and letting baby cry alone is something most of us don't want to do.
Rest assured, with patience and determination, the gentle techniques
baby self soothe
consistently and with long-term
For detailed guidance, you will find my No-Tears