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Getting your baby to fall back asleep on their own

Sleep   |   Age: 5 months


Getting your baby to fall back asleep on their own

Continuing to live with the irregular sleep pattern your family has developed after your baby’s arrival may feel impossible, especially a couple of months in. But while newborns might need to be fed and soothed back to sleep every time they wake up, by 3 or 4 months, babies can start to learn to fall back to sleep on their own. Being over-tired isn't good for your baby or for you, so encouraging an unbroken sleep may help to reduce both of your stress in the long run, even if it can take a little while for your little one to catch up.

Give her the tools and let her use them

Of course you want to keep responding to your baby's needs, but as she gets older, she'll start to have fewer physical needs at night - besides sleep - and may start calling out to you for your help getting comfortable enough that she can drift off again. Hurrying to help soothe her back down again is definitely one way to help her go back to sleep, but she can also start to learn how to calm herself down, maybe by sucking her thumb, or by getting her body into a comfy position. You can help encourage some of these strategies as she explores the world during the day, and then when she wakes during the night, she may try them out as a way to settle herself down. If you slow your walk as you head towards her when she wakes up at night, the minute or two extra may give her the chance to try to put herself back to sleep.

Get on a consistent routine

Keeping to a schedule, and verbally and physically reassuring your baby that she is safe and loved in the same ways every night, so that it can become something your baby counts on, is a great way to help establish a successful sleeping routine. This allows her to settle down with minimal intervention from you. Creating a routine with baths, stories, soft music, and shorter feedings signals to your baby that it is time for bed, and when you start to withdraw other parts of what she is expecting, like your immediate presence when she calls out, she will still have the other parts of your bedtime routine. You can soothe her with your voice, but avoid picking her up to condition her to fall asleep on her own, and you can keep your nighttime soothing visits to your baby's room as short and boring as possible - quiet, dark, without much stimulation - to make her not want to be up and alert quite so much. If you're not quite ready to stop picking your baby up entirely, that's fine, too. What you can do instead is work on putting her down when she is still awake, and practice putting her back on her own sooner and sooner so she can practice falling asleep on her own.

Be patient

Remember that babies naturally learn to fall asleep on their own if put in the right environment. If you always rock your baby to sleep, she will never have a chance to learn to soothe herself to sleep. Letting your baby fall asleep in her crib can help create that safe, cozy environment that she so desires.


Sources

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