But if your child wants you to hold onto him throughout the night, rock and cuddle him to sleep every time he wakes up, this can take a toll on your sleep and mental and physical health! You, as an adult, must have a sufficient sleep at night to function throughout the day; all this cuddling and snuggling can become a challenge for you.
However, thinking that something is wrong with your baby, if they are demanding to snuggle all night, then you are wrong here. It is usual for babies to feel like that; after all, you are the only human being familiar to the baby in this world. He will only look up to you for all his needs.
Nonetheless, you have to make the baby learn to self-soothe and settle him for your peace and their growth and development. There is no particular age to learn to self-soothe. It is a work in progress and should be done with perseverance to learn to self-settle and sleep on his own.
What is self-settling?
Self-settling is a skill or the ability of a baby to sleep or go back to sleep without needing adult assistance. Like adults, babies also have sleep cycles; they cannot sleep throughout the night without waking up; it is natural. They may stay awake for a brief window and then go back to sleep on their own after making some noise, light crying, or just staring.
However, not all children are the same and particular children below three months need to be fed and taken care of between their sleep cycles' leaving them unassisted can be dangerous.
After three months, many babies can be started to train to self-settle; but keep in mind that there is no fixed age for them to learn to self-settle. A Baby's sleep cycle can vary till two years of age and even more. You must know what your baby needs and must look for ques so that you can train them accordingly.
Is learning to self-settle necessary?
Self-settling is excellent for the baby and the caregiver as they can get enough sleep to keep their mind and body healthy and active. However, it is not a necessity but a good habit to instill from a very young age.
Listening and catering to your baby's needs is not wrong, nor will it spoil them. You must know when you are overdoing it and at what point you can start making your child independent.
Self-settling is more critical to the parent or caregiver than it is for the baby. The caregiver must have proper sleep to function throughout the day. Teaching the baby to self-settle will give you the luxury to sleep throughout the night without getting disturbed.
Furthermore, it is beneficial for the baby as well; he will not be dependent on you to get back to sleep, and thus the baby can also enjoy a good night's sleep to help him grow and develop.
How to teach self-settling?
Cuddling, rocking, and feeding the baby to sleep is easier but making the baby sleep on how own is a bit difficult and time-consuming process. Don't keep high expectations with the baby to learn to sleep in a few days.
After all, it is a complicated and new task for the baby; learning something new takes lots of practice, efficient coaching, and sufficient time to get the hang of it.
Many parents start worrying about their baby's sleep pattern and expect the baby to learn to self-settle at a very young age. Many parents don't know how to teach baby to self-settle, and many don't know anything about sleeping.
For parents worried about how to teach the baby to self-settle, there are many techniques to teach it. These techniques require consistency, perseverance, effort, and time to be fruitful. Some basic and popular techniques to help a baby settle are:
1. Creating a difference between day and night
It is essential for the baby to understand when it is day and when night. Knowing this, the baby will gradually understand that the daytime is for playing and doing all stuff, but the night is for sleeping and resting.
You can create a night environment in the baby's room; dim the lights, play white noise, eradicate any disturbing noise, avoid talking and playing with the baby, and if the baby has a habit of feeding, then make it a bit different from daytime.
2. Follow a sleeping routine:
Making the baby habitual of a sleep routine is an imperative part of training the baby to learn when to sleep. Feed him the last meal, change his clothes, give him a warm bath, read him a story, play some rhymes, pat, cuddle, and kiss him. It is necessary to calm the baby down before sleeping.
You can reassure him if he cries but give him time to settle by himself before approaching him. You can even rock him a little and then put him down while he is still awake. This way, he will learn to sleep on his own.
3. Making him feel comfortable:
A child can only sleep on his own if he is calm and feels safe and comfortable. Give him a security blanket or stuffed toy, if he is big enough, with which he can cuddle and self-settle him to sleep. You can also give him the dummy to help him self-settle.
4. Let him be:
Allow the baby to understand his situation and think of ways to cater to it. Approaching the baby without giving him to settle will be no good for the baby. There is a "crying it out" technique, in which you leave the baby entirely on his own and let him cry to sleep. This is, however, not much recommended; you can reassure him but make sure to do it in his crib by rubbing the back or making shushing sounds.
Q. When should your baby learn to self-settle?
A. there is no particular age for babies to learn to self-settle. It can be as early as four months, while some babies may take longer to learn.
Q. Is self-settling important for the baby?
A. Self-settling is a great way to make the baby independent and improve his sleep cycle.
Q. Is "crying it out" an effective self-soothing technique?
A. Although this technique has shown satisfactory results, there are gentler ways to teach self-settling. Making the baby cry for a long time can impact the baby's physical and mental growth.