Your baby self-settles at bedtime, but still wakes multiple times after 3am needing a rock or a feed or a co-sleep back-to sleep. Or self-settles for naps, but can’t seem to do the same at night time. Frustrating! But this scenario where baby is able to self-settle some of the time but not all of the time is actually quite common and doesn’t take long to overcome. Here’s what you can do if this is where you’re at…
Think of it like a scale
Imagine self-settling like a scale with 0% meaning your baby is totally reliant on you in order to fall asleep, and 100% is them self-settling all of the time. If your baby has started self-settling at bedtime only for example, they are on their way – whoop! But they have “got it” perhaps 30%, so now it’s time to work on the next bit.
Some times are easier to settle than others
Bedtime tends to be the easiest time for your baby to self-settle. It’s when their Melatonin levels (the sleepy hormone) are at the highest and they will have built up “sleep pressure” from being awake during the afternoon, both of which mean they are primed and ready for sleep so if you’re wanting to start introducing your baby to falling asleep independently, this is the time to do it.
The hardest bit!
The hardest time for your baby to self settle is from 4am onwards when sleep is light, their Cortisol levels (the wake up hormone!) are rising, and - if the room isn’t fully blacked out - light is starting to come into the bedroom. So settling back to sleep during that period AND settling back to sleep during their long lunchtime nap tend to be the hardest times for your baby to settle and are often the last bit to crack when we are working with parents.
Use a settling method
If you have used a settling method to help your little one learn to start settling, for example some stroking and shh-ing with them in their cot, and it has worked well then now it’s time to introduce that for night wakes or for naps. Recognise that it may be harder for them to get the hang of it for an early hours wake or a nap but that your settling method worked before so it can work again!
Timing are everything
Making sure that you are putting your baby down at the right times is 110% key to getting your baby self-settling all of the time. If you’re trying to put your baby down too early, they will cry because they are not tired enough and will take a long time to settle. If it’s too late, lots of tears because they are then overtired. If they haven’t napped for long enough at the right times then say hello to frequent night wakes! I talk about this a lot (sorry to my OGs!) but there is a formula to good baby sleep and routine is at the heart of it.