Self soothing or self settling is a hot topic when it comes to talking about newborn and baby sleep.
As a newborn your baby sleeps a lot especially in the first 10 to 14 days. They also need to get used to their new environment that no longer supplies them with food without asking for it. This is both natural and normal. Feeding, cuddling and falling asleep is all very natural for a newborn.
Then around two weeks things often start to change. Babies are more alert and seem to be awake for longer. They are getting their own little personalities and will often start to become a little more vocal. These changes don’t happen overnight but have already started to occur without your knowledge.
You see bonding with your baby is very important. The cuddles, the naps, the feeding, the baby talk and sleeping in your arms is the best thing for you and your baby but also becomes very tiring especially when you move into week 2 then 3 then 4 and so on.
Mums are starting to feel tiredness is taking over their daily existence and before you know it it’s no longer sustainable and sleep deprivation set in.
Because we have been told that babies should be kept in our arms, sleep in our beds and fall asleep while feeding. Its no wonder when the time comes to actually get them back to sleep they will protest until finally mum and dad give in.
I can so understand this feeling because there is nothing worse than hearing your baby cry, unsettled and upset in their bed rather than asleep, cosy and warm in your arms.
But I know that majority of the time after a few weeks of sitting and waiting for your baby to have their sleep in your arms. You start realizing that actually you would like to have some time without that attachment because it may be wearing you down.
Rightly so. You deserve to have some ‘you’ time. You deserve to give yourself permission to gain a little more freedom during the day.
Do not feel guilty for feeling this way.
It comes down to how to change the way we put our babies down that will ultimately give you back your precious time.
So here are some tips for resettling.
- Once you start don’t look back.
If you’re not doing it consistently at every sleep it will create confusion for your baby
2. Either put baby down drowsy or awake – not asleep.
We are creating an atmosphere of recognition around their sleep area. For them to see the same pictures on the wall, the same toys and the same bed will create a confident sleeper. They will also feel more secure upon waking.
So one of the reasons why babies don’t sleep well in their own beds is because they have left the comfort of mother’s arms while they are asleep and then when they wake up they are in a different place.
3. A swaddle for babies less than 6-8 weeks or a sleeping bag from newborn upwards.
Just to remember that not all babies enjoy being swaddled.
4. When settling your baby into their bed, place one hand under them and the other on their chest. Then once you feel the mattress, only remove the bottom hand while keeping one hand on their chest. Keep that hand gently but firmly on your baby’s chest or side for few minutes.
This will allow them to still feel the comfort of your presence. Also you can gently relax them with small hand movements and shushing.
5. Stay incognito
One of the most important tips is when settling your baby you are out of their eyesight, especially for babies over the age of 5-6 weeks. Your baby is not going to settle and close their eyes if mum or dad are watching them fall asleep. This is why sometimes rolling your baby on their side facing away from you works better when settling or you may need to crouch donw and be away from their line of vision. If they are back sleepers you can then move them back onto their back to continue sleeping.
6. Repeat and Repeat until success
If your baby wakes after certain amount of time repeat the settling process until you have success or until your baby is too unsettled to keep going.
There is no black and white rule how long you can leave your baby to cry for.
This is totally up too you, you are the best judge of your babies needs. Some mums can leave babies for 2 mins, others are happy to leave their babies for 5 min.
If your baby doesn’t settle, pick baby up but try not to leave the room. Once settled in your arms. Place baby back down in their bed and repeat the resettling process. You may need to do this several times to create a successful outcome.
It’s about creating a routine that is both sustainable for you and your baby.
Think about how you are guiding your baby to sleep and is this something you can keep doing for a long period of time.
If the answer is “no” then something needs to change for it to become more enjoyable and also sustainable in the future.