Empower Your Parenting: How to Teach Your Baby to Self-Settle
Unlocking the secret to teaching your baby to self-settle becomes paramount if you're uncertain about sleep training and currently rely on feeding, rocking, or contact napping to facilitate your baby in falling asleep. The significant challenge lies in acknowledging that there may be a temporary worsening before improvement in the process.
Picture this scenario: Your infant is accustomed to taking two naps per day, each lasting a solid 2-3 hours. Delving into the journey of teaching self-soothing may introduce a 20-40 minute delay in the bedtime routine. Recognizing that altering the way a baby falls asleep poses inherent challenges is essential, leading to the observed delay.
Despite this temporary shift, it's noteworthy that we adhere to not extending the duration of naps during this training phase. Consequently, your child may experience slightly less overall sleep than in their prior contact napping routine. Understanding these nuances is pivotal in the comprehensive guide on how to teach your baby to self-settle, empowering you to navigate the complexities of sleep training and foster independent sleep habits successfully.
Sometimes it’s worse than this!
Although it's not very common, it's important to be aware that some babies may refuse to take their morning nap when we begin sleep training. This can lead to them skipping a nap for the day, which we do not try to rescue as it may undermine our efforts.
Instead, depending on their age, some babies may take a bridging nap to fill the gap before their next scheduled rest. We explain bridging naps in our online program.
Alternatively, babies who are at least eight months old may be able to handle the extra awake time and just settle slightly earlier than usual for their next nap. It's important to keep in mind that this may cause some disruption to your routine during sleep training, things will just seem a little off timing wise.
Worse before better… see what I mean?
Fortunately, the situation of worse before better does not usually apply to nighttime rest.
If you find yourself waking up several times during the night or feeding your baby 2 hourly, implementing sleep training and teaching your baby to self-settle can result in significant improvements immediately.
Our clients typically experience a 40-minute self-settle on the first night, followed by a substantial stretch of consolidated sleep lasting 4-8 hours. While there may be outliers and more challenging cases, such as one client who took 90 minutes to fall asleep due to some fussing and controlled crying, the result was a sleep until 6 am without the usual night wakings.
Nights improve, and days crash.
Sometimes, it may seem like things are getting worse before they get better when a baby suddenly starts sleeping through the night for 8-12 hours instead of waking up every 1-2 hours. As a result, they may feel more refreshed, energized, and better than they have in months, and have less of a drive to sleep during the day.
This can lead to irregular napping patterns, shorter naps, skipped naps, or difficulty settling down, even if they previously had no trouble self-settling and taking long naps. However, this is just your baby adjusting to their new sleep patterns and trying to find a balance of how much sleep they need and what that feels like.
We call it the cycle of sleep training. With over 100,000 clients, we don't get alarmed when we encounter situations that seem to be getting worse instead of better. We understand that change is looming if you persevere! Your baby requires time to learn new sleep patterns, and what they require from you is consistency and patience.
If you're utilizing our online programs to DIY the sleep training or contemplating it, let's summarize what we've learned here.
- Some baby’s nap strike when we start to teach self-settling; this is normal and ok.
- Don’t rescue a nap strike from an older baby; you’ll reinforce the sleep association you are trying to change.
- Routines can go wonky while sleep training; that’s ok; it will get back on track.
- Night sleep training is easier and doesn’t usually get worse before better.
- Sometimes naps go astray when your baby suddenly sleeps through the night, this is the cycle of sleep training, and we should continue to see this cycle through.
If you're wanting to get started with some sleep training but you're unsure where to start, whether its a home or phone consult you need, or maybe you think the online program might work well.
Register for a free chat, and well give you a call to help you work out the best fit for you and your