Babies need to learn how to self soothe, it doesn’t just happen without guidance. You can start the learning process as early as a few weeks after birth. This allows your baby to develop good sleep habits before the bad ones creep in!
Here are some tips to help you and your baby get a better nights sleep through self soothing.
Establish a regular bedtime. Putting your baby to bed at the same time every night sets her internal clock so she’s more likely to be sleepy at a predictable time. Make sure it’s not too late – overtired babies have an especially hard time calming down.
Follow a consistent bedtime routine. A nightly ritual that includes three or four calm activities – such as taking a bath, reading a story, singing a lullaby, and rocking or having a cuddle – let her know it’s time to go to sleep.
Put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. Putting her to bed while she’s still awake helps her practice falling asleep without you.
Break the habit of feeding her to sleep. If your baby is used to falling asleep while breastfeeding or taking a bottle, she’s not learning to fall asleep by herself. Move your child’s feeding so it falls earlier in the bedtime routine, or gradually shorten the time you spend feeding her. If your baby starts to drift off, stop feeding her and finish the rest of her bedtime routine before putting her in her crib.
Do some troubleshooting. What happens if you’ve given your baby plenty of chances to self-soothe and she just isn’t getting it? Some babies take more time than others. Or maybe your baby doesn’t yet have the developmental ability to self-soothe.
Another possibility: Your baby might be too tired – and overwhelmed – to settle down by herself. In this case, try moving her bedtime earlier so she isn’t a complete wreck by the time you put her to bed.
Finally, take a step back and consider whether you might be getting in the way. Are you rocking her to sleep before putting her in her crib? Rushing to comfort her at the first cry (and depriving her of the chance to settle down on her own)? Expecting her to sleep through the night when she’s just not ready?
Learning to self-soothe takes time, and some babies need a little longer than others. Be patient, stick to your calming bedtime routine, and remember that some days will be easier than others. In the meantime, read up on structured sleep training methods to help your baby become a sound sleeper. That could be the next step!