Tips For Teaching Your Baby To Self Soothe
Hey, hey, hey! It's been a while since I published a post, as I was spending some much needed time with family over the holidays! And then unfortunately both Oaklynn and I ended up sick 🙁 But I am back and ready to take on 2020! And what better way than to help you mamas with a smoother/less stressful bedtime routine and to hopefully get you some much needed sleep!
So let's talk a little bit about self-soothing. Self-soothing is when your baby can calm down, relax, and go to sleep alone, in their own bed. Self-soothing is beneficial as you, as parents, will gain the relief of not having to soothe a child back to sleep every time they wake up in the middle of the night. Or spend thirty plus minutes rocking a child to sleep every night. Schedules will also be easier to maintain. Teaching babies to self-soothe will also help in setting up your baby for good sleep habits in the future.
Alright, so let's move on to those tips that will set your baby up for successful self-soothing!
Tips For Teaching Your Baby To Self Soothe
1.Introduce A Lovey/Security Blanket
My daughter has had a security blanket ever since she was an infant. If you don't know what a security blanket or lovey is, it is a small soft blanket with an animal attached to it.
The security blanket is something soft and warm that will help ease their fears and make them feel as if they are not alone.
When I lay Oaklynn down for nighttime or bedtime, there isn't a time when I don't hear her babbling to her security blanket, until she eventually falls asleep.
Placing an item such as a stuffed animal, that they find joy in, can also work in the same way as a lovey.
2. Background Noise/White Noise Machine/Air Purifier
When a baby is laid to bed, in dead silence, the silence can be deafening. That is why running a sound machine or air purifier is a great way to soothe your baby throughout the night. The low hum of these machines mimics the sounds that they use to hear inside your womb. Playing soothing sounds such as rain or waterfalls (often found on white noise machines) can calm an overwhelmed baby down.
I mean you can never go wrong with an air purifier, as your baby gets the added benefit of breathing in cleaner air! You can also even run something as simple as a fan in their room.
3. Apply The 15 Minute Rule
Okay, I don't know if this technique should be called this (insert hand over face emoji her), but if you know all of their needs have been met, let some minutes pass (I shot for 15), before rushing into the room. I know mama, this is hard. I was absolutely terrible about it at first. Although, what you don't want to do is respond too quickly, as your baby will learn that screaming will get you to rush in to comfort.
Some babies pick up on this action rather quickly, while others it may take a week or two getting use to. Although, the key to this rule is to be consistent with whatever amount of minutes you choose, when teaching your baby to self soothe.
As hard as it may be sometimes, it is well worth it in the long run! I can tell you that for months I would let my daughter cry for maybe 2 minutes and then go running in to her room. After I decided to set the 15 minute rule in stone, it took her maybe a week to figure out the process of self soothing.
And let me tell you, once they figure out to self soothe, the bed time routine is much easier on the both of you!
4. Bedtime Routine
Most likely, a baby is going to be less upset going to bed if they know it is coming. The absolute key to a bedtime routine is to be consistent.
Most parents give a bath before bed, as it has calming effects. No, I do not give my daughter a bath every night, so for those nights that she does not get a bath this could be something as simple as a diaper change, along with being put into pajamas.
Lotion may come next. I love to apply lavender lotion to my daughter as it is said to be calming. This is also a great time to massage your baby, as it is calming to them. Massaging can just consist of rubbing their belly, legs, and feet.
Give them their last feed for the night, whether it is by bottle or breast. When putting your baby to bed try to keep it quiet and dark as well. It is also a great idea to try to do this routine in the room where you want your baby to slumber for the night.
This is also the time to sing them a lullaby, read them a book, and then tell them good night. Whether you say "Good night, I love you," or It's bed time now." this is a great cue for them to associate with bedtime.
Lastly, make sure this routine is happening about the same time every night. You do not want one night for them to be put to bed at 7, one night 8, one night 9 and so on.
First off, ask yourself how you help your baby fall asleep each night. You may say I feed and rock my baby each night. Next, decide which element to wean off first. In this instance, I would say wean from feeding first. So each night you would feed less and less, while continuing to rock. Eventually your baby won't need to be fed to fall asleep.
Next you will rock your baby less and less each night. In order to get them comfortable being laid into their crib awake, you can do such things as patting their butt, laying your hand on their chest, rock their body side to side, etc.
The next goal is then to wean from your support. You can sit in a chair in baby's room and sing or talk to them in order to get them to settle. Or the first night sit in the chair next to their crib while they fall asleep. Each night move the chair closer to the door and farther from them, until eventually you are popping out of their room while they are falling asleep.
As long as you are doing less and less comforting each night, you will eventually get there!
6. Get Rid Of The Night Light
It's critical to help a baby distinguish night from day and sleep from wake, and the best way to do this is by controlling light and darkness. Keeping a light on in your baby's room may result in a less restful sleep for your little one. When an environment is lighted, melatonin production is inhibited. Melatonin helps us go to sleep, stay asleep and wake up well rested," says Krista Guenther, an infant and child sleep consultant and the founder of Sleeperific, a children's sleep consulting firm.
Although, when your child reaches the age of 2-3, they may experience night time anxiety where they are afraid of the dark or monsters. This may then be a time to introduce a night light as a source of comfort for your child.
7. Add Buddies
Add some soft buddies to keep them company throughout the night. This sleep sheep is absolutely awesome, as it serves as a soft cuddly buddy as well as a sound machine.
Oaklynn adored the sleep sheep! The sleep sheep includes four soothing sound options, has a velcro tab for easy attachment to crib, strollers or car seats, and has two sleep timer options! She didn't go anywhere without her sleep sheep for some time! Mom loved it as well, because it was the perfect travel size and could be used as a noise machine in the car as well!
I am telling you, your child will adore this buddy and will most likely request to sleep with it every night! There are also several different animal options to choose from. I just call it the sleep sheep as this is what my daughter has. Some of the other animals play lullabies as well!
8. Get Rid Of The Swaddle
When it comes to self soothing, you do not want your baby to be fully swaddled. As you want them to be able to freely move their hands in order to grab a pacifier, suck their thumb, rub their lovey, etc. Instead consider using a sleep sack, as it will still give them the feeling of being safe and secure.
Sleep sacks are sold in several different sizes and materials, making them great to wear during any season!
One of our favorites for when Oaklynn was a newborn was the Love To Dream Swaddle Up, as her hands were still covered. Although, it allowed her to have them in the hands up position, which she loved. You are then also able to remove the wings for arms free sleeping, when it came to transitioning to the self soothing stage. She was able to suck her thumb, rub her lovey, etc. the actions that are important to self soothing.
The Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit was also a must for us! It is a great product when transitioning your baby completely out of the swaddle. Also great when transitioning your baby from a smaller sleep space to a larger sleep space, such as their crib. You can read more about the sleepsuit here.
9. Lay Them Down When They Are Awake
One of the most important ways to introduce self soothing to your little one is to lay them down when they are still awake. Yes, they can be drowsy, but make sure they are not conked out. As you are making it their responsibility to soothe themselves to sleep and stay asleep.
This is a great way for them learning that they are in control of when and how they fall asleep.
You will most likely need to gradually progress this technique. Put them down when they are asleep, then half asleep, then of course when they are still awake. Eventually, your little one will know your intention and they will fall into slumber on their own.
10. Don't Pick Them Up
I know mamas, this can be terribly tempting, especially when your baby is screaming their head off. Although, if you know all of their needs have been met, there is no reason for you to pick them up. This is a way for them to get exactly what they want, instead of learning to soothe and comfort themselves.
Once they learn the self soothing routine, it will become easy for them to self soothe. Although, this means you need to stick to your guns too mom!
11. Use an Overnight Diaper
A baby's sleep can often become disrupted and uncomfortable if they are soaking through their diaper. In order to get a self soothing routine in check, I suggest switching to over night diapers in order to ensure they are more comfortable and drier than regular diapers.
12. Utilize The Monitor
A monitor will be your best friend, especially if you are one of those paranoid moms. The monitor is a great way to keep surveillance on your little one without having to enter their room.
You can also utilize the speaker feature on your monitor to sing your baby one last song, read them one more story, or give them a firm directive that it is time to go to bed. The sound of your voice may just be enough to comfort your baby. It also reassures them that you are near.
We loved this monitor, as it included all of the features that we wanted!
13. Toss In A Teether/Pacifier
When it comes to bedtime there is less noise and fewer distractions, which may result in your little one acting out due to sore teeth and gums.
A teether (this is one Oaklynn loved) during bedtime may help soothe them to sleep, and it is also great for them to realize if they need it or not.
I never gave Oaklynn the option of a pacifier, as I did not want the struggle of taking it away when the time came. Although, it is definitely a tool that can be used to help soothe.
Although, the problem with a pacifier being used to self soothe is that, when a baby goes through sleep patterns they are partially awake and can’t fall back to sleep without a pacifier. This is due to the fact they have not learned to self-soothe without it.
I can definitely say that teaching my daughter to self soothe and her adapting to it, has been a blessing. The bedtime routine has become much easier, without having to rock her asleep for thirty plus minutes. And of course, my favorite, her being able to make it through the night without my attention.
The self soothing strategies listed above, take time, but they are so worth it! Do not rush this process! The power of self soothing lies in the process of taking one step at a time! Be calm, be patient, and of course be consistent, and then everything will fall into place!
Moms/dads if you have used any of the self-soothing tips listed above, I would love to hear about the results! Or if something else worked for you, that is not listed, I would love to hear about those results as well!
Thank you so much for stopping by! I greatly appreciate it! And I hope your 2020 is starting out fabulous! 🙂
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