Donna Perugini Children's Author

Self-Soothe My Child to Sleep?

Donna Perugini Children's Author and son (c)2011Right…how’s that self-soothe working?

Just walk away while they’re a screaming infant? (No, not infants) Believe it or not, there is a ‘method’ called the Ferber Method also known as the ‘cry it out’ method.  Are you one of the parents with dark circles under your eyes…the ‘walking zombies’?

You learn to know when something is amiss over time with your crying baby and taking the time to find out what is wrong. Then there’s the baby crying at times during the wee hours of the night because they have been left alone in a crib to go to sleep. You begin to understand the signals between the two of you and see that there are options other than hovering over them constantly.

Loss of sleep is the most common subject that comes up with pediatricians. A child learning to self-soothe to sleep is a skill children can learn. Yes you still cuddle before bed, rock them in the rocker, nurse them or just hold them close. The point of ‘self-soothe’ happens when you lay them down to sleep and they wake up from their sleep through the night. They learn to finish the job of sleeping on their own. I’m not talking about the very young infants that need you to bond with them, but the 6 months and older ones who have created a routine for you of coming in to them or letting them sleep in your bed.


Nighttime Routines

Start when your baby is six months old and establish a routine:

  • Freshen up with a bath
  • Jammies on and rubbing their gums or brushing their gums gently
  • Favorite book that settles them down

Bedtime is Not Play Time

Set those limits and enforce them. When your baby is sleepy-not asleep, put them to bed. If they start to cry, wait before rushing into the room. When you do go in, don’t rush to pick them up. Talk softly and soothe them with your voice. I know, you’re picturing the screaming and can’t imagine letting them lying there. Ideally, you don’t let it go into screaming and if you’re totally deprived of sleep at night, try this technique first during naptime. You’ll be able to be more responsive if you’re fully awake. This is for babies 6 months and older, so don’t leave your infant screaming.

It’s okay if you don’t want to use this method, but I have to say it worked for all three of our children. We also used classical music to soothe them to sleep. Our daughter used her vacuum or white noise to help her children go to sleep.

Imagination Can Stop Sleep for Your Child

Your child has been sleeping through the night when all of a sudden they start waking up with nightmares. From toddler to preschooler, those little guys have fantastic imaginations. Unfortunately, they also have those imaginations appear in their dreams. Limit exposure to scarey items like TV, movies, scarey books and your conversations. Let your child know they are loved and safe if they wake up with  nightmares. Show and tell them you are not going away, and again…they are safe.

Sometimes we don’t take those ‘extra pair of ears’ into account when we’re loudly arguing with our spouse or discussing the latest child being kidnapped or exploited. Yes, ‘the walls have ears’ as they used to say.

Have any suggestions for helping your child go to sleep or sleep through the night? Leave your comments, share it, like it… for all of  the sleep deprived parents!

9 Responses to “Self-Soothe My Child to Sleep?”

  1. 1
    LisaAnn says:

    Great post! My sister just had her baby, and I am already amazed at how much WORK a baby is! (Glad she’s going through it first!! ;))

  2. 2
    LisaAnn says:

    P.S.- Thank you SO much for your sweet comments about Sydney the giraffe. I really, really appreciate it. 🙂

  3. 3

    I could never let my babies cry it out! Great tips as always Donna. Routines are so important with little ones, but our big kiddos need them too.

  4. 4
    Born27 says:

    I have a 1 month old nephew and when he sleeps he wanted to be carried by his mom. I told my sister in law not to do such, because it will be a big burden for him. He cries a lot when he’s not been carried.

    • 4.1

      It’s good for babies under six months to be held by their mothers, but also good for the mothers to let them sleep on their own without holding them all the time. Your sister-in-law must be having it hard trying to get enough sleep even for herself!

  5. 5
    Audra B says:

    It’s taken 3 babies, but we finally have our system down. It works for us and won’t work for everyone. I’ve learned that as parents, we need to take in the advice we are given and filter out what works for us and what feels right for our families. Let go of the guilt and the striving to be the “perfect” mom. We’re a co-sleeping family. We have a few hours each night with no children in our bed but by wake-up, we have 2 boys in with us most days. We get lots of sleep. They are happy and healthy and it is working for us. They have been learning self soothing as they are ready – some younger than others! I think Fletch is ready for more self soothing time at this point. Sleep is essential! Thanks for the tips!
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  6. 6
    Tracie says:

    Put your baby down when she is awake. After you feed your baby, play with her for a while, and when it is time for a nap or for bed, put her down when she is awake. If you let her fall asleep while nursing, when she wakes up to find the breast or bottle gone, she will probably start to cry because she uses the nursing to put her to sleep. If you put her to sleep awake, she will teach herself how to self-soothe herself to sleep.
    Tracie recently posted..tinnitusMy Profile

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