New Parent Resolutions advice: 10 tips for helping babies sleep independently

Last week Mummy’s Little Peeps posted about her son’s sleeping habits, and asked her to help getting him to drift off by himself . As ever, the response has been great and you guys have offered some fantastic advice and support. It’s not easy but there are gentle ways that you can ensure your little one learns to sleep independently.

  • Read. There are plenty of books out there. There are plenty of websites out there too. Sleep is big business because there are SO MANY parents out there who aren’t getting enough so use that to your advantage. Get some insight into possible reasons why your baby might be struggling to sleep, and while you’re at it, read up on a baby’s natural sleep cycle too.
  • Prepare for some resistance. When you introduce a new technique for sleep, there can be resistance. If your baby is used to having you hold his hand while he falls asleep, then he is not going to like it when you stop. Be prepared for this.
  • Get reinforcements. Don’t do it alone. You need to share the workload if you can because an exhausted parent is not going to be able to function well when baby wants to play!
  • Adopt techniques that work for your family.  Everyone’s telling you to leave the baby to cry but the thought of that makes you feel anxious? Then don’t do it. Only use techniques that you are comfortable with as once you start, consistency is key to success. If you’re not convinced you like a certain technique you’ve read about, then don’t do it.
  • Pick up Put Down. The baby whisperer recommends this technique for babies from the age of 8 months, and jessica says this is the only method that worked for her. The idea is simple- when baby cries (as you put him in the cot, perhaps) you pick him up. Then you do whatever it takes to calm him down- sing, shh, pat, stroke, etc- and when he stops crying, you put him back. The idea is that eventually your baby realises you are there but that he has to sleep by himself in the cot. In time, your baby will be happy to be placed into the cot awake.
  • Shh pat.  This is another method recommended by The Baby Whisperer and is mainly used for younger babies- but try it. It could work for your older baby too. This method doesn’t require picking up and putting down. Instead you soothe your baby to sleep in whichever way works (stroking the forehead, patting the back, rubbing the tummy, etc) and while you do this you say SHHH very  loudly. As your baby falls asleep, you ease off the shhhing and patting and you stay until your baby is asleep.
  • Use a comforter. This could be a blanket, a teddy, a sound and light machine, or a well loved book even. Let your baby take a favourite toy to bed as a comforter. It could help them feel secure enough to drift off more easily.
  • Make sure bedtime is relaxing and consistent. It goes without saying, but make sure bedtime is wind down time- limit stimulation and keep the routine the same each night. This way baby knows that after this, that and the other, it is bedtime.
  • Remember that this time will pass.  One day they will be teenagers sleeping in til noon and we will be laughing at how stressed we were at how badly they slept. Yes, it feels like forever now but it WILL pass.
  • Keep calm. As already mentioned, this time will pass. Your baby WILL learn to sleep independently. If you manage to stay calm through this tough period, then well done. Your baby will sense when you’re stressed, anxious or upset- and that could make falling asleep even harder. Leyla says that she has accepted her little ones need her right now and she is happy to spend time helping them to sleep.

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