Does my baby need to learn to self-settle?

The short answer is no. Your baby doesn’t need to learn to self settle. But you might want them to. Here’s our take 5 on self-settling.

1. What is it?

Self-settling (or self-soothing) is when a baby or child falls to sleep (or back to sleep) without parental input. The term is often incorrectly associated with unattended-to crying and harsh sleep training methods. But this is far from the case. Self-settling is what we adults do each and every day without any strife. It’s what babies do naturally every time they leave one sleep cycle and enter another. Self-settling often looks like this; a baby or child falling peacefully to sleep in a state of content and calm, secure in their surroundings and their sense of self.

2. Should my baby self-settle?

No – it’s not a must. Like all parenting decisions, there are no shoulds. Sleep is something that you get to do your way. If that means helping your child to sleep by rocking, feeding or holding them, that’s not only ok, but a perfectly brilliant way to do sleep. Some parents love their little ones being reliant on them for sleep long beyond the first year and there is nothing wrong with that. What’s important is that everyone is getting the rest they need for healthy, happy minds and bodies. However that rest occurs.

3. What age can babies self-soothe from?

Babies are capable of soothing themselves to sleep from birth. But that doesn’t mean they will – nor that they should! Most babies need a great deal of help with sleep for the first three months of life and this help, which often involves close-physical contact in the fourth trimester, plays a key role in building a healthy attachment between parent and baby. Beyond the age of 6 months, all babies and children are capable of sleeping 11-12 solid hours at night and taking lovely long naps. Even those with medical challenges. If a baby or child can’t sleep without help after this, it’s not that they can’t, just that they haven’t yet been given the opportunity.

4. What are the benefits?

A baby or child who can self-settle is able to do sleep themselves, meaning that once you’ve put them in their cot or bed after some lovely, calm bonding time, they can drift peacefully off, wrapped up in your love and protection. A self-settling baby or child means less time battling or worrying about sleep and more time for the things that matter; hot cups of tea, cold glasses of wine and time for connection with the other ones you love. It also allows that all-important time for you to be you, rather than just Mummy. It gives you the precious time needed to restore and relax so that you can pour from a flowing cup rather than an empty one. It means that 95% of the time, bedtimes, nap times and nights are peaceful, sleep-filled and resentment-free. When sleep is sound, it has a positive impact on all the family. Research links sleep with better immunity, increased protection against life-altering diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, improved memory and creativity, enhanced physical alertness and performance, healthy weight and lower stress levels. In short, better sleep means a better life for the whole family.

5. How do I enable self settling?

Self-settling is taught by giving your child the opportunity to practice falling asleep themselves. This means stopping doing sleep for them, and allowing them to do it themselves. It’s an enabling and empowering process for both parent and child. Families will want to find a self-settling approach that’s in line with their parenting ethos so that they can implement the changes with complete confidence which will result in success sooner. Our plans and 1:1 bespoke support can help any baby or child up to age 6 learn to fall peacefully asleep themselves. Whilst it often only takes a handful of days to turn sleep around, the sleep that comes lasts for years to come.

To find out which of our plans is best suited to your family, take our two minute self-assessment here.

If you have any questions about this topic please ask us below or on the related Instagram post. Biggest love, E&G x

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