Ever experienced a night where you quietly rocked your baby to sleep, made sure they were cozy and secure for a long night of rest, only to turn off the light and hear an instant kickback of crying?
If you’ve gotten to this point, you may be wondering what you could possibly do to help improve your baby’s ability to soothe.
It’s a big deal when your little one can self-soothe themselves to sleep. While every baby is different, here are some tips to help make the process as fast and straightforward as possible, and no one solution will work for everyone.
Create the Perfect Timing
By 3 to 4 months, several parents begin to note their baby exhibiting self-soothing behaviors. Most babies can go 8+ hours without having a feed in the night by 6 months, so it’s a perfect time to allow them to sleep and return to sleep if they wake up.
Before separation anxiety kicks in full force, about 8 to 9 months, it’s typically best to promote self-soothing habits. When they’re still concerned about being separated from their beloved adults, it can be difficult for your child to learn to soothe herself back to sleep.
Swaddling your child in a receiving blanket keeps your small bundle feeling warm and secure. Experts believe swaddling soothes babies because a womb-like sensation is developed. Many parents learn that swaddling helps their children calm down more quickly and sleep longer.
Some babies like to keep their arms out of the swaddle, either because they suck their fingers to soothe themselves or simply because they want their independence. By positioning them with the blanket’s top edge at armpit level instead of at chin-level, you can conveniently leave their arms out of the swaddle.
Routines Always Work
The development of rituals around going to sleep has many benefits like reading a book, singing a song, or taking a bath, even when they’re understandable. Sleep routines will give the body the signal that it’s time to go to sleep and relax.
Routines for sleep also have continuity. Consistency is crucial to let kids know how to adapt to circumstances. Even if they cannot understand the words being said to them when they are supposed to go to sleep, a young baby may learn from clear signals.
Consider Giving Them a Security Object
You don’t want to leave sheets, pillows, and toys in your child’s crib during the first year of their existence due to the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you wonder whether anything can be safely left in the crib of your infant, contact your pediatrician.
But if your child is older, they can provide an anchor to help themselves get back to sleep.
If your child is not yet old enough for a stuffed animal to be with them in their crib, a pacifier will aid the process of self-soothing.
Moving Away from Feeding Your Baby Before Sleeping
They are not even self-soothing or learning to self-soothe if your baby falls asleep while drinking from the bottle or breast. You will help your little one learn to self-soothe by switching the bedtime feeding session to a slightly earlier portion of the bedtime routine while still ensuring they get enough food.
While this is a reasonably straightforward adjustment to most sleep patterns, as your child is expected to look at other ways to soothe themselves asleep, it may lead to some frustrated crying.
Especially in the beginning, when your child learns to self-soothe without the assistance of liquids and full-body human touch, you may need to stand next to the crib offering verbal assurances or even the occasional back rub.
You may want to speak with your child’s doctor as one last move before you begin. They’ll be able to further help you. And also, remember to enjoy the present midnight cuddles while you look forward to the nights when your child doesn’t need you to fall back asleep. You’ll be without their reliance on you before you know it!