Self settling: what role does this play in your baby’s sleep?
Firstly, it is perfectly natural to rock or feed your baby to sleep in the early weeks or months. They need lots of support to settle to sleep, often then sleeping for good stretches. This is a hot topic for many parents and for others not so – for some babies not being able to self settle isn’t an issue for others it is. Knowing what’s right for you and your family is the most important thing.
If babies are unable to self settle to sleep, this does not always mean they have an issues with their sleep. However, often it can result in waking early from naps or waking numerous times in the night, needing to be rocked or fed back to sleep when not hungry.
If they are rocked / fed to sleep at the start of sleep, often they can struggle when they come into light sleep to link sleep cycles, needing those sleep cues and support to go back to sleep.
How can self settling help your little one?
- Little ones who can and do self settle are more likely to settle back to sleep independently when they come into lighter sleep.
- They often settle to sleep quicker and easier.
- For many babies, being able to self settle at the start of their sleep will help immensely with their sleeping patterns.
- It can help when sleep regressions emerge normally from development leaps or the need for their routine to be adjusted to their age.
How can you help them learn this skill?
It is a skill that for many doesn’t come easily for many months or even years. You may be rocking / feeding / or using a dummy which needs replacing numerous times when it falls out. It maybe your toddler needs you to lay with them and your ready to move on from this, every family’s situation different.
If you would like your little one to fall asleep independently, using some gentle and responsive sleep coaching will in time help your little one fall asleep in their space, with little or no support from you. There are many approaches you can consider when looking into sleep coaching – none of the methods I suggest are the old style “cry it out”
The Baby Guru Sleep Coaching Methods
Gradual Retreat: starting with shush & pat, moving gradually and slowly away giving less support.
Cuddle, Calm, Continue: for babies from 4 months can combine pick up put down along with shush & pat, it’s all about how you want to proceed and how your baby responds to sleep coaching .
Respond, Reassure, Repeat: for little ones over 6 months and when following the gradual retreat approach in the last step is based around giving them a short initial chance, listening and responding with lots of reassurance every couple of minutes.
If you would like support with helping your little one learn to self settle, please get in touch and I am happy to help further.
Sam aka The Baby Guru
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