Sleep is a very complicated part of early parenting, which is part of the reason that it presents such a challenge. There are simply so many variables, from nutrition and health to anxiety and sensory needs. One variable that simply cannot be overlooked is self-soothing. In order to sleep through the night independently, a baby needs to learn to self-sooth.
The capacity to self-sooth to sleep develops between 4 to 6 months of age and research shows that if your baby can self sooth by 6 months, she will be a good sleeper later.
With this in mind, it is important to teach self-soothing:
- Watch awake-times – An overtired baby will really battle to self-sooth. So it is vital that you don’t allow your little one to be come overtired. Watch how long she has been awake since the last sleep and put her in her crib before she becomes over tired.
- Swaddle your baby with her hands hear to her face in the first three months so she learns to sooth by sucking her fists.
- Do not over respond – Give your baby a little time to settle herself from 2 months on. If she fusses, listen for a minute or two, especially if she is just fussing or moaning.
- Pat and support – If your little one won’t settle on her own, support her attempts to self sooth by patting her to sleep.
- Encourage a ‘doodoo’ blanky – this is a wonderful tool for your baby to use independently.
Here are the simple steps to teaching self-soothing:
- Take your baby to her cot when her Awake time is up. (according to her age – See Baby Sense book)
- Swaddle her and rock her until drowsy.
- Place her in her cot on her back or side with her hands near her face or a doodoo blanky to comfort herself with.
- Walk out
- If she fusses listen to see if she can self sooth.
- If she cries go in, sit with your little one until she falls asleep and offer her the self soothing tool – eg ‘doodoo’
- Then pat and Shshsh until she falls asleep