Imagine this: blissful, uninterrupted slumber. A well rested family and new baby. Time and energy replenished. Sounds good, right?
For new parents, having a good night’s sleep can seem like a pipedream. Your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, waking the whole house up because they can’t get themselves back to sleep without you. It only takes a few 1 am, 3 am, 5 am wake up calls to have you desperately searching for a solution to your baby’s fretful nights. But, before you start reading tea leaves or look for a genie to grant your wish, the answer can be found a lot closer to home.
What is Self-Soothing and How Can it Help Your Baby to Sleep?
Self-soothing is when your baby can fall back to sleep by themselves. No, we’re not pulling your leg - it’s true. Your little 3 am noise machine can drift back off to the land of nod all by themselves. No need for you to sit and rock, pat, stroke and beg them to sleep.
While some babies are natural self-soothers (lucky parents), most babies need to be taught how to do it.
It involves teaching them simple yet effective calming tools that they can use when they’re stressed or irritated. There are lots of self-soothing methods, including:
- Sucking on a pacifier
- Holding their hands together
- Stroking their ears, nose or hair
- Sucking/stroking a soft blanket or toy
- Rocking from side to side
- Swaddling (but make sure they can reach their face or midline so they can practise their self-soothing)
It’s worthwhile exploring a few - your baby will find one that they prefer.
How Do I Teach My Baby to Self-Soothe?
While it’s tempting as a parent to rock and rock away with your baby, only putting them down and tip-toeing out of the room when you’re absolutely sure they’re asleep, that’s no way to live. You need your sleep too, and the sooner your bub learns how to put themselves back to sleep, the sooner you both will become far more well rested.
A wise person once said that nothing good in life comes easily - hey, just look at when you had to give birth to this little bundle of joy.
Teaching your baby to self-soothe might be hard at first, but it’s best for everyone in the long run.
Learn to Let Go
Go about your regular nightly bedtime routine, but be prepared to let go. It will be hard to do, especially because your bond is so strong. But, unless you plan to go through life with no sleep from now on, it’s something that must be done.
Instead of waiting until your baby is asleep before you put them down for the night, start putting them to bed earlier and earlier into their drift off. Start off putting them down when they are just about to go to sleep, and keep working backwards until they are fully awake when you put them in.
When your baby wakes in the night, encourage the self-soothing techniques instead of picking them up. It might be putting in a dummy, or giving them their favourite toy.
The Final Step
After a few nights of being put to bed before they are asleep and using the self-soothing methods, it’s time to put them to the final test.
Put them in their crib with their toy or blanket near them. Then, leave the room. If they wake up in the night, give them a few minutes - don’t jump in.
If they are left to their own devices, they’ll be more likely to use their self-soothing methods to put themselves back to sleep again.
Time to Enjoy Blissful Slumber
Once you have taught your baby to self-soothe and drift off to sleep without you, you’ll feel like dancing around the house (very quietly, of course). But it’s important to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There may be some nights that don’t work out as well as you’d planned - that’s life. But, with these helpful tips, chances are everyone in the house will be waking up feeling as fresh as a daisy.
Try a Helping Hand
There’s no harm in giving your baby a gentle, helping hand to encourage them off to sleep.
At Brauer Natural Medicine, our Baby & Child Sleep product has been specially designed to help your precious bub to drift off, naturally.
Made with soothing traditional homeopathic ingredients, it’s gentle enough to be used from 6 months of age.
Otherwise, if you’d like to learn some more natural tips you can use to give your bub the best start in life, why not explore these blogs…