Self-soothing is a crucial lifelong skill that helps manage emotions, sleep, and establish healthy relationships. For children and babies, self-soothing entails the ability to calm themselves without necessarily the assistance of a caregiver or a parent. Parents must teach their babies to self-soothe, as only a few of them can achieve this naturally.
Can 2-Month-Olds Self-Soothe?
Self-soothing babies often fall back asleep on their own with no or little crying. They may wake, make noise briefly, and then fall back to slumber. Most babies learn this technique as they get older, but in some cases, caregivers or parents may encourage this behavior via multiple techniques. There are multiple parenting guides that promote self-soothing among babies ranging from the cry it out (CIO) method and the extinction method to more gradual techniques.
The age at which your baby may start self-soothing varies depending on the environment and the baby. Infants can't self-soothe, and encouraging them leads to irregular sleep patterns, leading to weight gain due to frequent meals. As babies get older, they establish a more regular sleep pattern which eases the self-soothing technique. Most babies aged 3-4 months can self-soothe due to regular sleep patterns as they get older.
Infants can't self-soothe, but caregivers and parents can encourage healthy sleep habits and a sleep routine that assists them in resting well later on. Caregivers and parents can try the following:
- Being affectionate and warm during bedtime allows the baby to feel safe
- Limiting the baby’s daytime nap to at most 3 hours
- Develop a bedtime routine that includes a bath and a bedtime story
When Should I Let My Baby Self Soothe?
Sleep is crucial for child development and health, leading to adaptability and temperament in the baby. Self-soothing techniques are beneficial to caregivers and parents as infant sleep issues result in higher levels of depression and distress among caregivers. Sleep deprivation can affect everyone in the household. The ability to self-soothe has multiple advantages for individuals who find sleep challenging.
Allowing newborns to master calming strategies provides them with essential life skills. Teaching excellent coping skills from the word go and leading by example helps infants to adjust and become happy. Newborns below 6 months need to feel well during the daytime and wake up at night as well to get adequate food for their growth and development. Most babies need caregivers or parents to comfort them in preparation for sleep. You can respond to the settling requirements of your baby by speaking gently, patting, or rocking them as they prepare to sleep.
Parents and caregivers can make it easier for babies to fall asleep by putting them to bed when they’re drowsy. Most babies who fall asleep in their beds instead of being fed or rocked to sleep often associate sleep with being in their cots. The technique assists them in self-soothing in their cots. Babies aged 3-4 months may get upset when they wake up in a different location other than where they slept. Babies who self-soothe may sleep for longer durations due to longer total rest times during the night.
How Do I Know if My Baby Can Self-Soothe?
Self-soothing is essential for quality sleep through the night. Most babies often use various tools they learn to calm and self-regulate when feeling irritable and stressed. We all employ strategies and techniques to cope with stressful occurrences and to calm ourselves without even having a second thought about it. Self-soothing techniques are as crucial as crawling, smiling, and walking.
Self-soothing techniques may involve the face, the body’s midline, or the mouth. Examples include:
- Sucking a pacifier
- Sucking the fist
- Touching their nose or ears
- Holding their hands together at the midline
- Sucking a bottle, they may be holding in their hands
Newborns may also utilize self-soothing techniques that involve sensory stimulation. They settle down using the sense of pressure, touch, movement, or vibration. Self-soothing behaviors that utilize sensory stimulation include:
- Humming that results in chest vibrations
- Rocking the head sideways
- Rubbing their hair or lips
- Rubbing the blanket tag between the fingers
How Long Should I Let My Baby Cry if They Won’t Self-Soothe?
One way of training your newborn to sleep is the cry-it-out (CIO) method. The technique entails putting the babies in their cots while fully awake and allowing them to cry until they fall asleep without any assistance. Caregivers and parents should avoid rocking or feeding their newborns to allow them to drift off naturally. Most parents may experience a rough couple of weeks or nights listening to their babies wail, but crying won't hurt them in the long run. Allowing your newborn to cry before falling back to sleep is highly recommended, as it helps them fall asleep on their own.
The primary goal of the CIO technique is to allow newborns to eventually wear themselves and fall asleep on their own. You may allow your baby to cry out for at most one hour in the beginning before resting, though the duration may vary from one baby to another. Parents who employ this technique report that their babies cry increasingly less during the initial three nights, and their crying fades anywhere up to the seventh night. Most babies will eventually screech or simply fuss for a few minutes before quietly falling asleep.
How Do You Teach a Baby to Self-Soothe?
Self-soothing techniques entail behavioral methods to assist babies in managing their sleep. The choice of approach depends on numerous factors, such as the newborn's personality and temperament. Employ the listed tips to enhance self-soothing for your baby:
Swaddling is a proven technique that allows your newborn to feel comforted and safe. Most babies associate the feeling with falling asleep, allowing them to have an easy time while resting. You should transition your baby out of swaddling as soon as signs of rollover start to show, which happens as early as two months. Utilizing the Dreamland Baby Weighted Swaddle is a great way to allow your newborn to feel secure and comforted. Learn more here!
Tending to Your Baby’s Basic Requirements
This is the initial and most crucial step in assisting your newborn to self-soothe. Basic needs form the basis of your baby’s care in the long run. Healthcare professionals advise parents to bathe, diaper, feed, and comfort their babies while crying to allow them to feel safe and loved.
Using White Noise
The sound of a white noise machine or a fan is music to your newborn's ears. Most babies would rather have a steady sound than a perfectly quiet room. Utilizing white noise helps drown out sounds that may startle your baby as it has a calming effect. Switch on the white noise machine during bedtime to cue your newborn to learn when it's the ideal time for dreamland.
If you notice your baby is struggling with social-emotional skills or is developing self-soothing complications, you should consult a reliable healthcare provider. A reputable professional will refer you to the right resources to assist your baby in strengthening the necessary skills.
For eight years now, Carrie Stewart has been writing content for web and print, focused on travel, home, DIY projects, food, fashion, and real estate.