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Your sweet tiny bundle of joy is so innocent and loved, but somehow that little human can wreak havoc at nighttime. I know my baby went through a rough few months of bad sleeping and I was seriously SO sleep deprived! I was at a loss and knew I needed to do something to get my baby to self soothe and sleep through the night.
What is self-soothing
Self-soothing is basically the ability for your baby to fall asleep on their own without intervention from you. This is a skill that your baby has to learn but it is well worth it, trust me.
At what age can my baby learn to self soothe?
Understanding the techniques of self-soothing can be helpful to know right from the get-go. Even though your baby may not begin fully grasping it until they are a little older, I think implementing some basics from the beginning can be helpful.
Once your baby hits 3-4 months I think that is a great time to really start teaching baby to self soothe.
What are the benefits of self-soothing?
You are probably thinking, well more sleep has the be the benefit, right? And yes, you are right, BUT it doesn’t end there. A baby that has the skill to self soothe is one of those great habits that will help in so many other areas.
Self-soothing is a skill that will carry on with them through their childhood and even into their teenage and adult years.
A child that has the ability to calm themselves down and self-soothe without any outside help is a great tool to have. The ability to control themselves better and find ways to soothe themselves can even help in those toddler tantrum stages.
Your child will also sleep better, have more confidence and you’ll be a happier mother as you’ll be getting more sleep too!
Why should I teach my baby to self soothe?
Teaching your baby to self soothe is probably one of the most important sleep training skills. This is simply because your baby develops the ability to go back to sleep without needing YOU.
I am sure millions of mothers out there all share similar experiences of being awake in the night with a crying baby, rocking them, bouncing them, in the late hours of the night.
To say that begins to take its toll is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, I love every snuggle I get with my baby, but being up all night, every night gets exhausting pretty quick.
We all wake in the night, but as adults, we probably don’t even notice we do. Unless we need to go to the bathroom or are waking up due to a loud noise or not feeling well we don’t usually even know we have woken.
All of us go through different sleep cycles and some are heavier than others. When we reach a light part of our sleep cycle, we could wake up but more often than not we fall right back to sleep without even knowing it.
At about 4 months, babies go through a reorganization of their sleep cycles. They begin to develop a lighter stage of sleep.
Which is why right around this age your baby tends to go through a sleep regression.
This is because your baby’s sleep cycles aren’t only consisting of “deep sleep” anymore. For more information on sleep regressions check out “How to survive a baby sleep regression”
Babies aren’t usually born with amazing sleep skills. Well, at least mine wasn’t. With that being said, we have to teach them good sleeping habits and self-soothing is a must.
Teaching your baby to self soothe will get your baby well on their way to sleeping through the night and allow you some much-needed rest.
What are some ways my baby can self soothe?
Believe it or not, there are quite a few different ways your baby can self soothe. All babies are different, and it is actually quite fascinating seeing how babies will find a way that they like and that works for them.
My baby has a lovey, and he loves to snuggle them rub the palm of his hand over the nose of the stuffed animal. Weird, I know! But it TOTALLY works for him.
Here are some other simple ways little ones might find to self soothe:
- Rubbing or touching their hair
- Sucking their fingers or hands
- Kicking a leg or moving an arm in a rhythmic motion
- Holding a blankie or lovey
- Cooing or making sounds
- Moving their head from side to side
- Rubbing their eyes
To be honest, anything your baby finds soothing and helps them drift off to sleep can be a tactic they use to self soothe.
How do I teach my baby to self soothe?
Now you know all about self-soothing, you probably are wondering, “Well how do I teach my baby to self soothe?” Well, there are a few things that go into teaching your baby to self soothe.
There are 3 main steps to evaluate in being able to teach your baby to self soothe and sleep through the night. Once each step is understood and in place your baby should learn the skills to self soothe pretty quickly.
1. How is your baby falling asleep initially?
Depending on how you answer this question will determine if your baby is already dependent on something external that you are offering.
- If you are putting your baby in his crib already asleep then when your baby wakes up and is no longer in your arms, he is going to cry out for you.
- Nursing your baby to sleep and slowly placing her in the crib trying to keep her sound asleep, will only cause her to wake up crying 30 minutes later when the breast is no longer there. She will most likely wake confused and upset.
- If your baby falls asleep sucking a binky and it falls out, when he wakes up, he may not be able to find it which will result in crying because he needs your help to get the binky back in.
These 3 scenarios (sleep props) are typical, but all have something in common.
They all need outside intervention from you.
Whether it be rocking, nursing or popping a binky back in, your baby can’t do those things without your involvement. Check out my article “4 Sleep props to avoid” for a better understanding of sleep props and how to deal with them.
Putting your baby down awake will help eliminate these issues. When your baby begins to fall asleep without these outside props, they will have much better skills if they wake during a nap or in the night.
Try to avoid, the breast, bottle, rocking or the binky being the gateway for drifting off to sleep. It is better to put your baby down slightly awake but drowsy that put them in their crib fast asleep.
Your baby needs to fall asleep in the same place they wake up. If your baby is falling asleep in your arms and waking up in the crib, they are just simply alarmed that they woke up somewhere else.
2. Does your baby have a good sleep environment?
Setting the stage for success is crucial. Creating a good sleep environment where your baby feels safe and secure will really help your baby sleep much better.
Creating a good bedtime routine can also help cue your baby that sleep is approaching. Check this post out if you are wondering how to create a good bedtime routine.
Keeping your baby’s room dark and quiet will naturally cue for sleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone our bodies produce that induces sleep and having a dark room is a great contributor for producing melatonin.
Using a sound machine can also be helpful in drowning any outside noise that might trigger your baby to wake up.
Lastly, swaddling or using a sleep sack can help your baby feel warm, safe and secure while sleeping.
3. Does your baby have a lovey or blankie?
Now I know I just talked about how bad sleep props are, but there is one “sleep prop” that is ok, and that is a lovey. A lovey can actually help your baby sleep better. You may be wondering how a lovey is different from those other sleep props and it is because it doesn’t require YOU being in the picture. Yes, your baby may not hold it tight all night long, but usually a lovey or small blanket is easy to locate and grab, unlike something small and tedious like a binky.
I know stuffed animals and blankets can cause some concern for parents and be a potential risk for suffocation. Only do what you feel comfortable and limit only one stuffed animal or blanket in the crib.
If your baby becomes attached to a lovey and begins to understand that it is reserved for sleeping, it will quickly become a great tool for good sleep and self-soothing.
I am trying everything, but my baby Still won’t self soothe!
Maybe you are trying all of these things and you still aren’t seeing any success.
Don’t stress. Be patient and keep trying. Remember good things take time, but it will be a million times worth it in the end.
If your child is heavily dependent on a sleep prop it is going to take some time and persistence. Your child is probably going to throw a little protest and that is totally normal.
Think about it, if your child has happily fallen asleep to a soothing rocking motion or drinking warm milk as he drifts off to dream land, when those things are no longer taking place, protest is going to happen.
Don’t be discouraged, stick with it and continue to help your baby learn the skills to self soothe.
Self-soothing will help your baby sleep through the night
Teaching your baby to self soothe will, in turn, teach your baby to sleep through the night.
A baby that knows how to self soothe and go back to sleep will be a baby that will be able to fall back asleep if they wake in the night.
It is a behavior that usually has to be taught but babies are smart, they pick up on things so quickly! No matter the age of your baby, teaching them good sleep skills will be something you will never regret.
Does your baby know how to self soothe? What self-soothing techniques does your baby use?
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