Imagine putting your baby down to sleep awake and he just drifts off, completely on his own. You don’t have to do any rocking, cuddling or feeding. Just lay him down, say goodnight and walk out of the room as your baby self soothes. He doesn’t cry, whine, or get upset, just peacefully falls asleep. You would probably tell me that I’m nuts, and that this is impossible, right? I don’t blame you. I didn’t think teaching my little one to self soothe was possible either.
When I had my first baby I just rocked him into deep sleep every single night…for hours on end! I didn’t have a clue what baby self soothing was. Luckily when he was a little older he happily accepted that he didn’t need rocking in order to fall asleep, but that’s where it all went wrong with my second son, he wanted me to rock and rock all night, this lead me to seek help, and I was so grateful that I did, within days my youngest son was settling himself to sleep and sleeping through the night. It was the best decision I ever made! You can’t put a price on sleep.
Teaching baby to self soothe, or fall asleep on their own is an amazing accomplishment, that will solve most, if not all of your baby’s sleep troubles. However, it is probably the hardest part of sleep training. One of the most common questions I get as a sleep consultant is “How do I teach my baby to self soothe?“. This question can be tricky to answer because there are many different components to teaching your baby to sleep well. Age appropriate sleep schedules, knowing how to respond to wakings, which wakings are for hunger vs comfort.
You also have to be consistent, pick a method that you are comfortable with, and have a really good step by step plan to follow so you are not confusing your baby. This is exactly why I have made sleep consultation packages available, in which I create a personalised sleep plan for your little one based on their individual situation and background. I also provide you with support if needed to answer any questions along the way.
Teaching a little one to fall asleep on their own, is such a great feeling. Especially when you are finally able to lay them down without a struggle. You get to enjoy a happy bedtime routine together, give your baby kisses and cuddles, and he drifts off to sleep without a peep. I don’t think there’s any better feeling when you’re a parent that has been struggling with getting your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are some of my best tips for helping your baby fall asleep on his own!
Solid bedtime routine. Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine for your little one. Same routine, same time each night. This is very important. A baby will have a hard time falling asleep if his sleep schedule is all over the place, or the routine is always different. A consistent routine gives your little one predicability. When your baby knows what to expect, he will be more likely to accept it.
Move feeding or nursing. If you are feeding or nursing your baby to sleep, you are going to want to break that feed-to-sleep association. So what you do is move the feeding to the beginning of your bedtime routine. Now your baby has the opportunity to fall asleep on her own and in her own sleep space. If your routine was PJ’s-book-feed. It should now be feed-PJ’s-book.
Put your baby down, “drowsy but awake”. I know you have probably heard this a million times, but this really is a biggie. Laying your baby down awake is not easy and you will have to follow that up with a sleep training method, but it’s essential in helping your baby learn to self soothe. Making sure your baby is drowsy but awake before you lay him down, is very important.
Pick a sleep training method and stick to it. It’s always a good idea to choose a sleep training method that you are comfortable with, so that you aren’t playing a game of trial and error. Parents are more likely to see the sleep training through if they are happy with what they have to do. If you are trying one thing, then another, this may confuse your little one. Inconsistency can lead to many, many, tears. Being consistent and following through with your sleep training method is the only way to be successful.
Have a sleep training plan. If you have tried different methods, and nothing is working, it may be a good idea to have a sleep training plan. Some parents need a step by step guide, and there is nothing wrong with that. Getting help from someone that knows what they are doing and is able to provide you with that step by step plan, is invaluable when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep well. If you would like more individual help based on your baby’s unique situation, I offer personalised sleep plans with or without support. Teaching a little one to self soothe and fall asleep on his or her own is one of my specialties!
Stay with your baby. Some little one’s feel more at ease knowing Mummy or Daddy is right by their side. Since your little one needs to learn the skills to self soothe and fall sleep on his own, he may fall asleep easier, if you are to start with, by her side, gently helping him to understand. Don’t worry, once your little one gets better at falling asleep on his own, you won’t have to stay with him at all. You will be able to lay him down after their bedtime routine, say good night and he will smile and drift off to sleep.
Don’t give up! Parents often get discouraged with how difficult and overwhelming the first night can be. They give up, and don’t get to see that it gets easier. Each night is just a little bit better than the previous. As you progress, it gets better and better. By the end of the sleep plan your little one will most likely be falling asleep on his own in under 5 minutes. Even if it takes 2 weeks, that’s a great accomplishment. Don’t give up!
Remember that we can teach your little one self soothing strategies as gently as you feel comfortable with, there is no need to leave your little one alone crying wondering if you are going to return, teach them kindly and gently and the sleepless nights will be history!
If you are interested in a step by step sleep plan of how to teach your little one to self soothe
and fall asleep on his or her own, please take a look at my packages and prices page or give me a call.