HOW CAN I LET OF SLEEP PROPS AND CHANGE THE WAY MY BABY FALLS ASLEEP?
When a baby is able to self-soothe (also known as self-settle), they’re able to fall asleep, and resettle back to sleep throughout the night and between sleep cycles, without needing your help. That means, no more rocking for hours or constantly replacing the teether when it falls out.
If your baby has become heavily reliant on you or another prop for sleep, and it’s impacting their sleep and yours, it may be time to let go of the sleep prop and change the way your baby falls asleep.
Just as your baby has gotten used to the way you’ve been putting them off to sleep, they can get used to a new way of settling. Like any change, this may take some time and patience, but the transition can be relatively smooth and pain free for both of you if you follow these steps;
- Start when you are ready. Regardless of their age, changing the way your baby settles to sleep can take a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Your baby will need your support as they adjust to the change and it can be quite tiring, so only start the process when you’re truly ready.
- Start in the evening at bedtime. Pick a night when you are feeling relaxed and calm (so not if bedtime is rushed or you have people staying over, or you are away in a different environment)
- Start as you mean to continue! So if it is the teether you are moving away from, get them all out of the house to avoid falling back into using them.
- Start bedtime a little earlier, knowing it will likely take a bit longer than normal as your baby gets used to the changes.
- Follow your usual evening bath and wind down routine and after your final feed or story, pop baby in their swaddle or sleeping bag, give them a little cuddle and lay them down on their back in their crib, drowsy but still awake.
- If your baby is happy, fantastic! Leave the room and leave them to it!
- If your baby starts to get upset then follow one of the settling techniques we covered in lesson 12. Don’t be surprised if the settling takes a while for the first few nights. Just stick with one settling method and repeat the steps until your baby falls asleep.
- Be consistent! It’s kindest to your baby if once you start the process of removing the sleep prop, you see it through. If you try for a while but then fall back to using the teether/rocking/car movement etc. then you make it much harder for your next time you try as this behavior is even more strongly reinforced.
- Expect at least some crying! All babies are different in how quickly they adapt to change but you should expect some protesting as you introduce the new settling techniques. Once your baby adjusts to the new way of falling to sleep, this crying and protesting will pass, and they will consolidate their ability to settle and resettle without any sleep props.
- Enjoy having your evenings and nights back!😊