So what exactly is self settling? Self settling is the ability for your little one essentially to settle themselves back to sleep as and when they wake from their sleep cycles (which is entirely normal!). This is something which parents and carers often read as; leaving their little one to cry themselves to sleep, not cuddling their newborn baby too much, and having a super strict routine all day everyday. It’s actually far from all of that!
If it makes you feel better…we very much encourage you to cuddle and love your newborn as much as you like, make the most of those precious first moments, there are many other ways to help your little one settle which does not involve leaving them to cry, and we advocate having a flexible routine to ensure that as parents and carers you are able to leave the house and do things!
This is not to overwhelm you more by adding more options about what you can do, it is about reducing the anxiety about where to even start with self settling and giving you the confidence to implement things gradually to support your little one with learning how to self settle.
From when your baby is a few weeks old, take note of their sleep cues and just notice when they are showing signs of starting to become tired or wanting to sleep. When you are noticing these signs, pop them down in their moses basket (or a safe sleep space near you) and allow them time and a calm environment to gradually drift off themselves.
What is a sleep cue? This is something your little one will do when they are tired and getting ready to sleep. Some examples of sleep cues: rubbing eyes, yawning, turning their heads to the side, starting to moan a little, or becoming quiet)
Babies have the ability to start self settling around the age of 12 weeks. You can encourage them to start self settling by helping them to set up a positive sleep associations. This can be as simple as creating a simple sleep routine which helps them to know that it is time to sleep.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to have your little one sleeping through by a certain age. This varies so much for every little one!
As your baby gets older and if they have become attached to a comforter (please be aware of the safe sleep guidelines from The Lullaby Trust), it is encouraged to put this to the side of them and for your little one to reach for this themselves rather than you giving it to them. This means that as and when they wake from a sleep cycle during the night, they will be able to self-settle themselves back to sleep.
Every family is different. Every baby is different. But it is so important that you do what is right for you and your family.
Written for Naturalmat Baby