Imagine putting your baby down to sleep awake and she just dozes off, completely on her own. You don’t have to do any work. Just lay her down, and walk out of the room as your baby self soothes. She 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 baby to self soothe was possible either. When I had my first baby I just nursed and rocked her into deep sleep every single night…for hours on end! I didn’t even have a clue what baby self soothing was. Now both of my girls fall asleep by self soothing. I helped them learn to fall asleep on their own, and this is exactly what they do every night. No crying, no fighting. The best part of teaching my baby to self soothe, is that she is able to fall back asleep on her own in the middle of the night, when she wakes from a sleep cycle. Meaning no unnecessary nighttime wakings.
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 due to hunger vs comfort etc. You also have to be very 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. For those reasons, I have made sleep consultation packages available, in which I create a customized sleep plan for your baby based on your baby’s individual situation and background. I also provide you with support to make sure that you are successful.
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Teaching a baby to fall asleep on their own, is such a great feeling. Especially when you are finally able to lay your baby down without a struggle. You get to enjoy a happy bedtime routine together, give your baby kisses and cuddles, and she 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. So here are some of my best tips for helping your baby fall asleep on his or her own.
- Solid bedtime routine. Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine for your baby. Same routine, same time each night. This is very important, and I can’t stress it enough. You can’t expect a baby to cooperate when her sleep schedule is all over the place, or the routine is always different. A consistent routine gives your baby predicability. When your baby knows what to expect, she is 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 sleep association. So what you do is move the feeding to the beginning of your bedtime routine. This way your baby has the opportunity to fall asleep on her own and not in your arms. If your routine was jammies-book-feed. It should now be feed-jammies-book.
- Put your baby down, “drowsy but awake”. I know you have probably heard this a million times, but this is really a biggie. Laying your baby down awake is not easy and you will have to follow that up with some sleep training methods. Making sure your baby is drowsy but awake before you lay her down, is very important.
- Pick a sleep training method and stick to it. It’s always a good idea to have a plan to stick to and a method that you are comfortable with. This way you are not trying one thing, then another, and completely confusing your baby. Inconsistency can lead to many, many, tears. Being consistent and following through with your plan is the only way to be successful.
- Buy a good sleep training program or guide. If you have tried different methods, and nothing is working, it may be a good idea to buy a program or guide to help you. 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 Personalized Sleep Plans and support. Teaching a baby to self soothe and fall asleep on his or her own is one of my specialties!
- Stay with your baby. Some babies feel more at ease knowing Mommy or Daddy is right by their side. Since your baby needs to learn the skills to self soothe and fall sleep on her own, she may fall asleep easier, if you are by her side. Don’t worry, once your baby gets better at falling asleep on her own, you won’t have to stay with her at all. You will be able to lay her down after bedtime routine, and she will smile and drift off to sleep.
- Don’t give up! Many times parents see how difficult and overwhelming the first couple nights 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 week your baby will most likely be falling asleep on her own in under 5 minutes. Even if it takes 2 weeks, that’s a great accomplishment. Don’t give up! Here are some stories from parents like yourself, that didn’t think it was possible either, and now the entire family is sleeping well.
Remember that you don’t have to stop nursing, rocking, or cuddling when teaching baby to self soothe. In fact I encourage an abundance of that. You can incorporate nursing, rocking, or anything else your baby enjoys into your bedtime routine.
If you need more advice, or a step by step plan of how to teach your baby to self soothe and fall asleep on his or her own, please take a look at my Baby Sleep Consultation Packages–>