• Should I be encouraging self-soothing?

Sleeping longer stretches is dependent upon your baby’s ability to soothe himself back to sleep should he wake up during his active sleep phase. Knowing your baby’s self-soothing techniques will be helpful in recognizing when your baby is trying to get himself back to sleep.

Some examples of self-soothing are: kicking, raising and dropping his legs, rubbing his head back and forth, using an attachment object or lovey, and sucking. It’s not uncommon for Babies to have quiet breaks between fussiness as they soothe themselves back to sleep.

Please note that fussiness is not the same as crying and you do not need to let your baby cry it out. If needed, you can employ a gentle, supportive sleep coaching strategy. See Gentle Sleep Coaching Strategies on sleep page

As you get to know your baby’s sleep patterns you may find that you can catch him as he cycles into an active sleep phase and gently ease him back to sleep by lightly patting him or with a quiet shushing noise before he fully wakes up. If he wiggles and squirms after you put him down you can use the same methods to help him settle into a deeper sleep.

If your baby is responding well to your soothing techniques, you can try using these same techniques at bedtime. If you are using a soothing technique, such as patting and your baby begins to cry, pick him up, cuddle him, and calm him

Doing so now will not create bad sleep habits in the future.

Above all, remember that you and your baby are a one of a kind team. Babies will outgrow the need to feed during the night at different ages, and that’s okay. Applying one set of rules to every child will not take into account the emotional or physical needs of your baby. Teething, illness, growth spurts, and developmental milestones will always be there to throw you a curve ball, but you can create a healthy sleep environment and teach your baby self-soothing skills that he can use when he’s ready.

If you do try these techniques and they just aren’t working, that’s ok. Your child may not be ready. It’s fine to do what works for now including nursing, feeding or comforting your child to sleep and back to sleep and make changes when your child is older. For an exhaustive list of gentle tips and strategies see the sleep page (link to sleep page)

Posted in: Month 5: Challenges & Solutions