Baby Self-Soothing: 6 Techniques For A Restful Night
Little Yawn Collective - Mar 14, 2022
You’ve ticked all the boxes off of your New Parent Bingo card. You’ve done all the night feedings, nightly diaper changes, and the nighttime rocking and cuddling. You’ve made it through days bleary-eyed as you may have spent more time awake than asleep caring for your little one. In fact, you’ve made it week after week with the nightly feedings and cuddle sessions.
At some point, you have probably wondered - when will I get to sleep through the night again? This is completely normal, as we all need a good night’s sleep to be functioning adults.
As your baby grows and needs fewer nighttime feedings, the good news is that your time for a good night’s sleep is coming! Helping your baby become sufficient at self-soothing themselves will become one of the best investments you can make towards everyone in the home getting a good night’s sleep.
Is My Baby Ready for Self-Soothing?
Waking up in the middle of the night is normal for all humans. Our sleep cycle runs through the different stages of sleep throughout the night.
When we are in the stage of light sleep, we may wake more easily. This can be caused by a dog barking, passing traffic, or needing to use the bathroom. The same thing applies to our little ones. They may wake for a multitude of reasons. The only difference is that for us, we can easily roll over, close our eyes and drift back to sleep.
For our babies, they may want the comforting touch of their parents to guide them back to dreamland.
One of the biggest indicators that your baby is ready to start self-soothing themselves back to sleep is no longer needing night-time feedings. All babies are different, but between four and six months is the age where your baby can make it through the night without needing to be fed.
Their little tummies have grown, and their last feeding can get them through the night. Don’t worry if your baby is a little older than six months. Babies develop at different rates!
You may think that this is great news and that you’ll have a good night’s sleep at last.
However, your baby may still be waking up in the middle of the night and wanting you to provide that comfort before they can fall asleep again. After all, you’ve been there after their nightly feedings to comfort them back to sleep. This is where self-soothing comes into play.
What Is Self-Soothing?
Self-soothing is the ability for your baby to fall asleep without needing the support of a parent or caregiver. This doesn’t mean that your baby will not cry when they wake up.
But it does mean that they will be able to stop crying and soothe themselves without needing someone to rock or hold them until they calm down and fall back asleep on their own.
In order for your baby to successfully self-soothe, some important prerequisites must be met for the process to start and continue to be successful.
No More Night Feedings
The first sign is when your baby is able to make it through the night without needing to be fed. If your baby wakes up crying and hungry, we would not want to ignore their cries to be fed.
In order to avoid any confusion, waiting until your baby reaches this milestone is key to making sure that any confusion is avoided.
Comfortable Room Environment
The second need to be met is that your baby has a comfortable environment to fall asleep in. A dark and quiet room, cool temperatures, and clothing to keep your baby warm ensure that their room is conducive to a good night’s sleep.
You may need to install black-out curtains if there is a street light or if a great deal of morning sun can come through your child’s window. If you are close to any sources of loud noise, a white noise machine or fan can help drown them out.
Baby’s Needs Are Met
Making sure your baby’s needs are met helps ensure that they are not crying for any other reason besides wanting to be reassured by a parent.
Make sure your baby isn’t wearing clothing that causes them to be chilly or overheated. Have they had a recent feeding? Are they wearing a clean diaper? Ensuring these needs are met ensures that your baby isn’t crying for another reason.
Six Techniques For A Restful Night
As you likely know, there are endless methods and techniques when it comes to raising a baby.
This includes techniques to help your baby self-soothe. Of course, not one method will be one-size-fits-all, so you may need to test out a few ways to see what works best for you and your baby.
Technique #1: Bedtime Routine
Setting up your baby for self-soothing success means having a consistent bedtime routine. Bedtime routines signal your baby that it’s time to relax and unwind. Children respond well to consistency, so try to get the same routine. It doesn't have to be complicated.
In fact, a simple routine may be all it takes.
A warm bath is a great way to relax and unwind. Next, massaging lotion into your baby’s skin helps keep their skin moisturized but allows some quality bonding time. Like every decision surrounding your baby, you may be wondering what products you can use for your baby.
Little Yawn Collective has you covered in this department. We offer products that fit perfectly into your bedtime routine.
Our Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash with Calendula calms and cleanses your baby from head to toe. Next, our Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter is soothing and gentle on your little one’s skin.
Last, try using our Relaxing Pillow and Linen Spray to keep that relaxed feeling as you move from the bathroom to your baby’s room. The scents, including organic lavender and bergamot, help to foster a relaxing environment.
All products listed contain our NaturalSnooze fragrance, featuring scents proven to create an environment that helps your baby with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Technique #2: Sleepy, Yet Not Asleep
One of the best ways to start the process of teaching self-soothing is to start laying your baby down to sleep when they are drowsy, but haven’t quite fallen asleep yet.
If you have been rocking or feeding your baby until they fall asleep, now is the time to gradually stop right before your baby enters sleep. This starts the process of saying, “I’m here for you, but now it’s time to start falling asleep in your crib without me.”
Technique #3: Sleep Training
Once your baby is in their crib, make sure they are drowsy but not fast asleep. Otherwise, they may cry out for your comforting touch. This is where sleep training comes in, as this moment is where self-soothing skills are developed. There are numerous ways to sleep train, but they all center around giving your baby a chance to settle on their own.
Remember to give your family enough time to sleep train. It will not be an overnight lesson in self-soothing. It may take a few weeks, and you may have to start the process over again multiple times. In fact, it may be hard to stay positive through the sleepy days, but with consistency and love, your baby will begin to self-soothe themselves to sleep.
Technique #4: CALM Baby Method
The CALM baby method is a technique of calming your baby with the least amount of interaction possible. It goes from simply making eye contact with your baby to feeding them if your baby is still crying.
Each layer of progression adds more interaction with your baby if they have not calmed down. Each progression should last a few minutes to allow the chance for your baby to respond to what you are doing, so don’t move through each stage too quickly.
If your baby is crying after waking up, you simply go into their room and make eye contact with them. If this doesn’t work, speak sweet words to them to let them know that you are there. You can then place a comforting hand on their belly or back.
Are they still crying? You can then change their position to see if that will help make them more comfortable (placing your baby on their back if they do fall asleep).
At this point, if they are still fussy you can pick up your baby. Incorporate rocking if your baby still isn’t calmed down. If your baby is still young, swaddling can help keep your baby snug and feeling safe.
Still tears? Using a pacifier encourages your baby to suck, which is comforting to them. The last progression if your baby hasn’t calmed down is to feed them.
Technique #5: Offer Comfort Objects
If your baby is old enough, around 12 months, you can give them a comfort object to help with self-soothing. This object helps your child feel comforted if they wake up in the middle of the night, and your child can create a bond with this object (think back to your own bunny or teddy).
Technique #6: Probiotic Drops
As your little one grows and develops, sometimes their tummy may get rumbly in the middle of the night. Once your child has reached 12 months of age, incorporating probiotic drops can help with any tummy troubles that may cause your little one to get upset in the middle of the night.
Little Yawn Collective’s Calming Probiotic & Organic Chamomile Sleep Drops can help reduce any fussiness before bedtime that may spill over into the middle of the night. Chamomile can also help gently relax your child without the use of melatonin. You can give the drops on their own or add up to 9 drops into your child’s drink for effortless ingestion.
At Little Yawn Collective, we understand the challenges when it comes to your baby learning to self-soothe. You and your baby may shed some tears, but this is normal, and you are doing a great job!
Giving your baby the ability to self-soothe is a life skill that is beneficial as your child learns to regulate their emotions. It is okay to figure out what works best for you and your baby.
Once you have the best method figured out, be consistent, and with some time, you and your baby will be sleeping peacefully.
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