A simple definition of self-soothing would be the ability of babies or toddlers to get calm, relaxed and go back to sleep all by themselves, without really needing assistance from the parents. You would really love it when your baby can fall asleep quickly and easily without you having to do much.
Also, you would love it more when your baby wakes up at night and goes back to sleep without disturbing you. These and more can be achieved if your baby learns how to self-soothe. And you know the most exciting part, it really is not that difficult, you can teach your baby to self-soothe with easily with just little effort on your part. Below are some tips for teaching your baby to self-soothe;
- Start Early
Like I always say, anything you want to do, you should start early so as to achieve your desired results. Allowing your baby to self soothe later than you should would make the process harder than easier for you to cope with. You can even start from day one (just a hype, really) in encouraging your baby to self soothe if you want, the ideal thing there is the earlier the better. Whereas there is really no specific time or age for this, your baby should be able to start self soothing between four months to one year of age.
- Get your baby loveys
Loveys are just transitional objects, they can be anything. Loveys can be a security blanket, a beloved toy, anything that is safe to carry around and your baby can form a bond with it. To get the perfect deal for your baby, you should get an item that your child can easily relate to without much persuasion on your part and add it to your baby’s bedtime routine. You can introduce a lovey to your baby when he is about 3 months of age, once your baby forms an attachment to it, it will help them feel safe and soothe them to sleep.
- Use an Air Purifier
Because the quality of air in your home is very important, you need to make sure it is in its best condition. Air purifiers were made to clear the air of dust, allergens and odd odors. This can help your baby feel relaxed and comfortable with sleeping as they make sure that your baby breathes pure air. Also, these air purifiers do not make any noise, they are very quiet so you can run them all through the night and your baby would not be disturbed by it in any way.
- Make Background noise
You must have heard about this so many times, background noise (white noise) is something babies love. This background noise is gentle and consistent so it can soothe your baby to sleep. With a little noise in the background, your baby will feel calm and happy too. It also helps prevent other distracting noises around the house from reaching your baby. To your baby , it would just be like the same calming sound he was used to hearing in the womb. You can play calm and soothing music from any device or you make use of a sound machine.
- Dim the lights
I shouldn’t be telling you this, you should already know that your baby cannot sleep in a very lit room, even you as an adult will find it very much uncomfortable. When the lights are on, your baby gets the feeling that it is daytime and it will be almost impossible for him to sleep off. If it’s possible to leave the room entirely dark, you should but in other not to get your baby scared when they wake, leave the room dimly lit. You can get a night light for this or you attach a dimmer switch to a lamp.
- Put your baby down when drowsy
Before your baby falls asleep completely, he will feel drowsy for a few moments. You shouldn’t carry your baby around and rock him till he is fully asleep. No doubt that, newborns benefit from the rocking and bouncing but this is not the case now. Try to put your baby down when he is drowsy but still awake. This is very effective as it will help your baby learn how to self soothe himself to falling asleep and also be able to get back to sleep on his own when he accidentally wakes up in the middle of the night.
- Try swaddling
Swaddling helps soothe your baby to sleep; it’s something you already know. So if you want your baby to be able to self soothe without your help, what’s stopping you from swaddling. When you swaddle your baby, it will help him sleep longer and more soundly as he will feel calm and won’t get disturbed by his own startle reflexes. However, swaddling is ideal for the early months of your baby’s life because as your baby grows, you will eventually have to drop the swaddles.
- Make sure your baby is cool
The temperature of the room your baby sleeps in is very important if you want him to get to sleep all by himself. If the temperature is not OK enough, your baby will find it very difficult in falling asleep, even if you are there to soothe him. You have to find a way to make the temperature in the room moderate and consistent. About 65 – 70 degrees is best as your baby’s room needs to be cool for a good night sleep, you can make use of temperature regulating gears to achieve this.
- Use a pacifier
Pacifiers are known to help calm babies down and that may just be what you need to make your baby fall asleep – to calm him down. They encourage babies to self soothe by making them do the calming down job all by themselves. With pacifiers, your baby learns how to control his feelings and it also makes him feel relaxed and secure as they provide him with comfort. Once your baby is calm, it is very possible for him to quickly fall asleep, and you would not have to do a thing.
- Quit picking up
Not every time your baby wakes up and start crying should you go and pick him up. If you rely want your baby to learn how to sleep all by himself, then you should quit picking him up all the time. What should you do? If your baby wakes up suddenly and attempts to cry, you can make him feel your presence without picking him up. Allowing him see you, gives him the rest of mind that you are around and once he’s calm, he falls back asleep without you having to do the soothing. This may not seem really nice and fair to your little one but you are trying to help them development and sometimes, certain sacrifices need to be made.
- Feed your baby before
Nutrition helps for a lot of things, and getting a good night sleep is one of them. Making sure that your baby is well fed before putting him to bed is ideal if you want him to fall asleep and stay asleep because one cannot sleep comfortably on an empty stomach. However, the feeding should be light and hours before its bed time because feeding just right before bed time can actually make your baby uncomfortable with falling asleep. The food should be down and digested so that your baby will feel relaxed and calm when laid down.
- Feed your baby after bed
You can interchange this for the previous step but this is necessary to calm your baby down too. There are possibilities of your baby being hungry when he wakes up so make sure you do feed him.
- Allow your baby to self explore
Self exploration is one simple way to help your baby self soothe and it has really been effective for those who have tried it. It’s simple; just allow your baby to enjoy the delight from his own explorations of maybe his toes, fingers, or hair; anything he likes fiddling with. Do not stop your baby form exploring himself it is a better way for him to learn how to self-soothe, he understand his body and knows just what to do to derive pleasure.
- Maintain a bed time routine
You should have a bed time routine that you follow so your baby can stay organized and know just when he is expected to sleep. Not having a bed time routine – meaning you put your baby to bed anytime and anyhow you like – will not make your baby feel relaxed and there is no way he can self soothe. Maintaining a Bedtime routines will help calm your baby and get him prepared for a good night’s sleep which is overall important if you are teaching your baby how to self soothe.
- Don’t have a too complex bed time routine
Whereas you should maintain a bed time routine, do not make it too complex that you end up disorganizing you and your baby in the process. Your baby bed time routine should be simple, maximum of 3 – 4 or 5 steps, this is advisable so your baby can also understand what you are doing and not be left along. If you have a too complex bed time routine, there is a possibility that it is not going to work and your baby will find it difficult to fall asleep instead of it being easy.
- Get a Good Baby Diaper
This is advisable because most babies are prone to diaper rash and it would be difficult for your baby to be able to self soothe when he is uncomfortable. Also if your baby gets soaked and wet while sleeping, it will be difficult too for your baby to fall asleep again by himself if he wakes up in the middle of the night. To take care of this, you need overnight diapers that can hold up well; they are best since as they can last all through the night while your baby is sleeping.
- Try a Baby Monitor
Baby Monitors (you can call them baby alarms) are devices you use to remotely listen to the sounds your baby make, especially when asleep. They work just like a radio system and are both available in audio and video. With a baby monitor, you get to constantly monitor your baby and communicate with them even when you are no in the same room with him. From hearing your voice even as you are not there, your baby will get the assurance that he is safe and be able to go back to bed.
- Gradually Distance Yourself
When it’s time to say Goodnight, you should try to distance yourself gradually. What do I mean? You can say goodnight to your baby close to his crib this night, the next you distance yourself a bit, you do the same thing the next day until you can just stay at the door to say goodnight without your baby being disturbed. This will make your baby not to expect much from you when you lay him down to sleep and learn to depend more on himself to do the soothing job.
- Be Patient
You should be patient with this, it does not work overnight. Do not get mad if your baby is not learning quickly. Have patient and be calm, just as you would want your baby to be.
- Get rid of the Rocking Chair
I made this last so as to really grab your attention. Getting rid of the rocking chair has more to do with you than your baby. You want your baby to be able to self soothe so you do not want to see yourself sitting on a rocking chair, rocking your baby to sleep. I know you can control yourself, but get rid of it if you can, just to avoid the temptation.
It is known that babies who self soothe are better sleepers, so if you want your baby to sleep better (most especially all by himself) start teaching him to self soothe today.