How to help baby self soothe (especially at night)
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Teaching your baby how to self soothe takes time, patience and practice! It truly is a wonderful skill to help your little one learn at an early age so they can get much more quality sleep. And, so you can too!
But what exactly does self soothing look like? And how do you teach a baby to self soothe on their own?
Well, lucky for you, that’s what this post is all about!
So if you’re ready to get a good night’s rest, keep reading to learn about how to help your baby self soothe!
Can newborns self soothe?
Self soothing simply means that your baby is able to him or herself without needing to rely on you (their caregiver) or a sleep prop to soothe themselves and fall asleep.
Most newborns are unable to self soothe simply because they’re just too young. They aren’t developmentally ready to take on a big task such as self soothing.
So when can you expect your baby to be ready? Typically around the 3-5 month mark is when most babies become developmentally ready to take on self soothing.
Is self soothing good for baby?
Teaching your baby to be able to self soothe on their own is very rewarding in multiple ways!
- It can help your baby learn to fall asleep independently
- This skill can carry forward into toddlerhood allowing toddlers to self soothe through difficult situations
- Helps to minimize night wakings/interruptions during sleep
How do I teach my baby to self soothe?
Teaching your baby healthy habits so that they’re able to self soothe can be a little daunting for some parents.
So below are some basic steps to follow to help set a strong foundation & promote self soothing behaviors:
- Begin with a solid plan between you, your partner and any caregiver(s) involved. You’ll want to be sure EVERYONE is on the same page with practicing these healthy sleep behaviors so that your little one is benefiting from the consistency and not being sent any mixed signals.
- Then, develop a consistent sleep routine (for both naps and bedtime – this could be as simple as a bath, changing into PJs, a short story and then going to bed; usually a routine of 30 minutes or less is a good time frame to keep!)
- Make sure baby’s sleep environment promotes quality sleep!
- Pay attention to your baby’s sleep cues – you’ll want to be sure they’re not going to bed over or under-tired.
- Try to limit or remove sleep props. A sleep prop would be something like a pacifier, a bottle or nursing to sleep. If your baby relies on a pacifier to sleep AND stay asleep, you will likely be up through the night replacing the pacifier whenever it falls out. We had to cut out the pacifier cold turkey for our son — fortunately, it didn’t seem to phase him, but we did it early enough it never caused too many problems!
- Figure out whether you can tolerate your baby crying. There are MANY different sleep techniques out there to help babies learn to self soothe — some focus more on comforting baby, others involve a combo between cry it out and comforting, while some are cry it out methods. Determine what will be best for you, your baby and your family. For the record, we took the middle approach and it worked out really well for us!
- Begin implementing your plan at bedtime. It’s always better (and easier) to implement any kind of sleep training/habits at bedtime as it will be when your little one is the MOST tired, have the least distractions and be more inclined to sleep longer.
- Don’t expect your baby to self soothe right away! ANY new sleep training takes time — sometimes it can take weeks, so be patient and stay the course.
Is baby self soothing with hands better than a pacifier?
I personally find that if your little one wants to suck their thumb, hold their hands close to their face or anything else to that nature is far better than a pacifier when it comes to self soothing.
When our son began ‘dropping’ his pacifier throughout the night, he’d instantly wake up and whine until we replaced it. Thats when we realized we needed to get rid of it ASAP.
That’s not to say that some kids won’t do well and never experience that since, you know, all kids are different!
However, here’s some facts about pacifiers/thumb sucking in babies:
- Some studies have shown an increase in ear infections in babies who use a pacifier.
- Babies who use a pacifier have been shown to have a decrease in breastfeeding and an increase in formula feeding.
- Pacifiers & thumb sucking can potentially cause issues with teeth alignment and/or cause changes in the roof of the mouth [SOURCE].
Simple tricks to help baby sleep calm & comfortably
Now that you know the steps to take to help you baby begin self soothing on their own, lets talk about some other basic tips you can do to help them sleep comfortably at bedtime and during those naps!
- Set up a sleep environment that promotes quality sleep!
>> This means using things like blackout curtains to keep the room dark, a white noise machine or even a humidifier if the room gets overly dry and stuffy!
- Keep their crib or sleep area EMPTY! This means no blankets, no stuffed animals, no toys, etc…
- Master the swaddle technique. A nice tight/snug swaddle that baby can’t escape will be key to keeping them cozy through the night!
>> You can even use a swaddle like the love to dream, it’s a simple zip-up swaddle that keeps baby’s hands in place comfortably to promote healthy sleep! We actually used this for a few months when our son began escaping his classic swaddle and I can’t rave about the love to dream swaddle enough!
- If baby has transitioned out of the swaddle, use a sleep blanket or sleep sack to keep them comfortable!
- Keep the room cool! Many babies thrive off a room temperature between 68-72 degrees F.
When it comes to choosing a sleep plan, here are some amazing sleep resources that I’d highly suggest checking out!
I hope these sleep tips and self soothing tips can help your little sleep a little more comfortably through the night!
Thanks for reading ‘How to help baby self soothe’.
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