Q&A: Settling your baby

A common theme through questions I receive from the BabyBliss community is on the topic of babies that are having a hard time settling.

I know controlled crying or cry-it-out methods can be so tempting when trying to solve the puzzle of why your little one is struggling to go to sleep. However, I do not recommend them because I believe it is important for children to feel supported and safe when learning to put themselves to sleep.

The BabyBliss settling technique is gentle and effective and there are a number of resources available on this site to help you master this. There’s also a video of my patting technique on Facebook  and of course I am always available for a consultation.

Below are some questions I’ve received previously on our Facebook page (modified slightly to remove personal info!) about babies that are having a hard time settling and my responses. I hope they’re helpful for you.

Q. I have a 6 month old who still wakes up a few times after we settle her for the night, anywhere from 30 mins to an hour after. This can go on for a couple of hours before she sleeps for a longer stretch. She normally goes into her cot awake. Is there any way to stop this?

Jo: Usually that wake after going to bed can mean that a baby is overtired when they are going down, or she is being assisted to sleep and not doing it on her own. Perhaps try putting her to bed a bit earlier and if she isn’t putting herself to sleep then work on teaching her how to do that – here’s a video of my patting technique.

Q. I have a highly strung 2 year old who takes anywhere from 40 mins to an hour to go to sleep at night and doesn’t want to sleep on her own. I have to lie down next to her and pat her back usually until she’s asleep. She still has a daytime nap and bedtime routine has not changed since she moved from cot to bed a few months back. Any tips on trying to get her to sleep on her own?

Jo: It’s very common for toddlers to want someone to lie with them. You need to gently get yourself out of the room before she goes to sleep. So stay for a bit then tell her you have to leave to do something, but you will be back in 3 minutes. Make sure you go and then come back in 3 mins. If she gets up, then take her straight back. Keep doing this until she goes to sleep but try and be out of the room when she falls asleep. It will take a while the first time you try but it will get easier and easier if you are consistent!

Q. My 19 week old will sleep perfectly on me during the day and even sometimes in her cot during the day but won’t self-settle at all! She also wakes up screaming the house down about every hour for the first half of the night and then either needs to be rocked back to sleep or fed back to sleep. This seems to be for comfort rather than hunger? Any advice welcome!

Jo: I think your baby will sleep better if you teach her how to put herself to sleep, or at least settle her in the cot rather than on you. I would put her down awake, leave her until she starts to get upset and then go in and pat her all the way to sleep in her cot. If she is very distressed you can pick her up to calm her but she needs to go back down before she is asleep and you need to pat her off for the last bit. If you work on this then I’m sure things will get better!

For some further reading, check out the following blog posts:

5 tips to get baby to sleep

Why baby won’t sleep and wakes when they do

My toddler won’t sleep without me in the room

Baby sleep cycles you should understand

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