Can your baby sleep on his own? Or do you need to rock or feed your baby to sleep? Have you heard of the term “self-soothing”?

Most parents help their baby to sleep by cuddling them, singing a lullaby, and rocking them. But it is also possible for a baby to sleep on his own without his parents’ help.

Meaning of “Self-soothing”

Self-soothing is the ability of a baby to sleep on his own. When a baby can self-soothe, he can calm himself and settle down on his own. The parent or caregiver won’t need to carry or cuddle the baby to sleep. Babies who can self-soothe usually have long periods of sleep.

Self-soothing is also one way of regulating emotions. This is also done by adults in their daily lives. For babies, it means calming or comforting themselves without the help of others.

When to let your baby self-soothe

While self-soothing sounds natural, all babies are different so they learn how to self-soothe at different times. Can newborns self-soothe? Self-soothing is something that has to be learned, and newborns are born without this ability. Babies normally don’t sleep through the night during the newborn stage and have to wake up frequently to eat. This is part of their growth and development. Newborns depend so much on their parents or caregivers. They need their moms or caregivers to feed them or put them to sleep.  It is normal to carry, shush, rock, or cuddle a newborn to sleep, and these are usually effective ways to put a baby to sleep.

Experts have different opinions about when to let your baby self-soothe, but generally, it is not common to see a baby self-soothing at 2 months. They may start to show signs of self-soothing at 3 months; however, it doesn’t mean that they will actually do it. You may start teaching them to self-soothe at four months. They may be more capable of self-soothing when they are 6 months old.

Babies may learn to self-soothe as their brain continues to develop while he grows. But parents should not expect all babies to learn this ability by the time they are 6 months old; some babies may take longer to learn how to self-soothe.

Babies who can self-soothe tend to have a longer sleeping time as they are able to sleep on their own. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they can fall back asleep on their own, too.

How to get your baby to self-soothe

1. Start a sleep routine.

One way on how to make baby sleep on his own is to establish a routine. Your baby’s naptime and bedtime should be consistent. This routine can help him know that it’s time to sleep. You can dim the lights and prepare for bedtime at night. Create a quiet environment for sleeping. Doing this can help set a baby’s internal clock. You can do other activities such as singing a lullaby or giving your baby a warm bath. The important thing is to be consistent with the routine so that your baby can get used to it.

2. Put your baby down while he is drowsy but still awake

Putting your baby to bed while they are still awake can help them learn how to fall asleep without you. But if your baby is used to being cuddled or rocked to sleep, it might take some time for them to settle on their own. But still, you have to be patient.

3. Gradually reduce other soothing methods 

Just like putting your baby to bed while they are still awake, you can reduce other soothing methods to get your baby to self-soothe. For example, you can break the habit of feeding your baby to help him sleep. Or you can gradually reduce the time you spend rocking or carrying your baby.

Self-soothing is an important skill that your baby can also use later in his life. Knowing when to let your baby to self-soothe can benefit both you and your baby. Just be patient and let your baby learn at his own pace.

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