Teaching Your Baby to go to Sleep Without your Help

Teaching your baby to learn to fall asleep independently is one of the most satisfying long-term lessons she can learn. If a baby cannot settle without one of her parents there, bed time becomes a stressful time for all parties. A child that peacefully drifts off to sleep is a pleasure for all, especially when compared to a distraught, wailing baby who is fretful and restless, refusing to settle.

There are no rules set in stone when it comes to getting your baby to go to sleep without parental help. Every infant possesses a different personality and some will naturally sleep well without any intervention, whereas others might have clingier characters and be more demanding.

A new-born’s sleep patterns should never be interfered with. She should be fed and allowed to sleep on demand. This helps to build her trust in her parents and provides a safe and secure environment for her. Over the first few weeks, she will start to develop her own pattern, which can be built on when putting her to bed.

One of the most important aspects of helping your baby to fall asleep on her own is to ensure that bed time is a pleasurable period rather than a traumatic one. When she is old enough to start developing a routine, use this to your advantage by establishing a night-time pattern that you repeat every day.

Start with a warm bath and then dry her off in a secure, peaceful area. Dress her in comfortable night clothes, preferably cotton or other natural fibres and give her a last feed. Try not to let her fall asleep on the bottle, but remove it when she is relaxed and dozing. Place her gently in her cot, ensuring she is warm and cosy. It helps to warm the beds and bed clothes, but never leave any heat source with her. Some babies like a security blanket or favourite toy with them as they fall asleep. Sit where she can clearly see you so that she feels secure and softly read her a story or sing a lullaby. Unless she is poorly or teething, this is usually enough to help her fall asleep.

Many parents rock their baby to sleep in their arms, or use a rocking cot, or let them fall asleep in their arms before putting them in their cot. If this suits your lifestyle and your baby there is nothing wrong with it. All children will eventually learn to sleep on their own. However, if you want to help your baby sleep independently from an earlier age, it is better to establish the routine as soon as you can.

Some experts propound the “let them cry themselves to sleep” method but each parent has to decide for themselves whether this is in the best interests of you and your infant. If you do decide to go with this method, always leave it until after your child is six-months old so that she has established trust in you. Never leave her crying for long. Go back every five minutes or so to reassure her without picking her up. Over a few nights, she will learn to go to sleep alone but be warned it is a stressful method for all concerned!

Just remember that every child is different and that one routine or method will not suit all. By getting to know your baby and her unique personality, you will be able to work out the best and least-stressful ways of establishing independent sleep patterns.

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