How to encourage baby to fall asleep independently?
Is there a technique for getting baby to sleep? What if falling asleep on his own was the key to a peaceful night's sleep for baby and his parents? It is clear that if baby manages to fall asleep on his own at night, he should demand less of his parents' presence at night. In this article, we'll look at how to get baby to sleep, how to react if he wakes up during the night and when to put in place this famous autonomous sleep without crying.
What is autonomous sleep?
Autonomous sleep is simply when baby falls asleep on his own, without any outside help.
Generally if baby needs a hug, bottle or breastfeed before falling asleep at night, there is a good chance that he will ask for this if he wakes up in the night. If this is not a problem for you, there is no need to read this article. But if you are not happy with getting up every night for your own sake and that of your family, then try to work on getting your baby to sleep independently.
Your baby will also find it easier to fall asleep anywhere and, above all, will fall back asleep more quickly if he wakes up at night. Not bad for him either!
How to put baby to sleep?
There is no magic formula for how to get baby to sleep... here are some tips that should help:
One important thing to remember: when waking up at night, baby must be in the same conditions as when he fell asleep. It is therefore not advisable to put baby to sleep anywhere other than in his bed (arms, pram, etc.). He would only be surprised when he wakes up. As for us, imagine waking up somewhere else than where you fell asleep...
2. A pleasant environment
Your little koko's room should be pleasant: tidy, nicely decorated. Your baby should not associate his room only with the night time separation. On the contrary, it's good that he has pleasant moments of awakening, sharing and playing alone and with you.
3. An evening routine
There is no independent falling asleep without a bedtime ritual. Everyone has their own ritual! Here are the criteria for a well-oiled routine:
- Always the same ritual with the same activities
- Keep the routine short
- At the most fixed times possible
- Rituals should help fill baby's emotional tank
4. Have a transition object
Of course, a cuddly toy can help baby to separate for the night. Reassuring and reassuring, that's the role of a cuddly toy!
5. Don't put an angry or overtired baby to bed
To fall asleep easily and independently, baby must be in a good mood. Yes, it's not easy to fall asleep when you're brooding... It's to put your baby to sleep in a calm mood that you set up the evening ritual. You can also make your baby laugh to relax him before the long separation of the night.
6. Observe your baby's signs of fatigue
In order to adapt to your baby's rhythm, the best thing is to detect his signs of fatigue. This will allow you to put him to bed at the most appropriate time for him.
7. Separating from your little koko during the day
It will be beneficial for your baby to have some time to himself during the day, time to play on his own. A child who is separated during the day will find it easier to separate from his parents at night.
What to do if you wake up at night?
1. Understanding the real reasons for waking up
It is not necessary to jump out of bed at the first whimper of your baby.
First of all, your little koko may be in a latency phase of his sleep, i.e. a phase where he either wakes up or goes back to a sleep cycle. And it happens that he cries in this latency phase. So there's no need to move if that's the reason for his crying.
Then you have to understand whether baby has a "real reason" for crying or not. In other words:
- Is he hungry?
- Does he need to be reassured?
As a parent you know your baby well and it is up to you to judge whether baby has a real need and whether you should get up. If the crying intensifies, you will have to get up!
2. If possible, avoid holding your baby in your arms
Yes, if you can leave your little koko in the bed, it's better. Easier said than done... Try to give him his dummy, his cuddly toy, to stroke his head or his belly. Some of the methods at the end of the article might be useful.
Be careful to avoid too many stimuli. So don't talk to him much and don't turn on the light.
What is the right age for independent sleep?
Every baby is different and acquires his rhythm at a different time. It is certain that a newborn baby needs to eat regularly and will therefore wake up because he needs to eat. In this case, you have to respond to his need!
However, you can start implementing our tips above as soon as you like. Perhaps you like to put your baby to sleep in your arms? Then wait a while.
Perhaps you are starting to feel exhausted by your baby's night-time waking? Then it's time to speed up the process...
Falling asleep independently without crying?
Autonomous sleep does not mean that we let baby cry. No, we're talking about wellness for baby. So you don't let a little koko cry for 15 minutes. You have to find the right balance between intervening too early and too late. If your baby has been crying for a few minutes or the crying is getting worse, then he needs you.
If you follow the advice above, it should help you to avoid crying yourself to sleep. However, if your little koko is tense, reassure him! Whisper sweet nothings to him, stroke his back. And as a last resort, take him in your arms to cuddle him.
How can the rules be changed so that baby can fall asleep alone?
Is your baby big enough to stop needing to eat at night? Is he able to sleep through the night? Paediatricians believe that from the age of 6 months a child no longer needs to be fed at night, because in principle, if he is healthy, his hunger-satiety rhythm has been established.
If you have established habits with your baby, here are some tips for changing them.
First of all, talk to your baby. Explain the new rules. Tell him that you are tired, that a baby should sleep in his room at night, that he is big enough and that he no longer needs a bottle at night...
Depending on the age of the child, it is also interesting to have an outsider intervene, such as your paediatrician, who can verbalise the new rules directly to your baby. This can have more impact (see our experience as mothers).
Following this conversation, put into practice what has been explained to your baby: remove the cododo, remove the breastfeeding chair...
If the first attempt fails, don't worry. Put your baby to sleep as before and try again the next day or a little later.
How to put baby to sleep without breastfeeding?
It is often that baby falls asleep at the breast. In this case, the evening feed should not be part of your famous ritual. Breastfeed him in the living room rather than in his room, for example. And stimulate your baby to prevent him from falling asleep at the breast. Ideally, he should feed himself and then fall asleep independently in his bed. For more information on how to put your baby to sleep without breastfeeding, see our article « sleep and night of the breastfed baby ».
Need a technique to put baby to sleep?
Unfortunately for us parents... there is no ONE technique for putting baby to sleep. There are several techniques more or less reliable and more or less recommended by professionals to put baby to sleep. At Kokùn Lab, we say why not. To test. The goal is to change bad habits and make baby fall asleep alone. So any idea is good to take. Maybe it will work for you!
Place a chair next to the crib to sit on while the baby falls asleep. Move it back a little more each day. Until he falls asleep on his own without you.
Method 5 10 15 (progressive waiting method)
You should know that this method is quite controversial among professionals.
How does this method work? You put your baby to bed and if he calls you, you wait 5 minutes before going back to him and reassuring him. Try not to pick up and stay too long. At the 2nd recall, you wait 10 minutes before going back. At the 3rd recall, you wait 15 minutes. So you space out your returns to the room more and more and each time you have to reassure him that you are not far away, that he is not alone in the house.
Here the waiting times are shorter than in the 5-10-15 method. You potentially take more account of your baby's emotions.
You wait 15 seconds of continuous crying before picking up and cuddling your baby. Once he's calmed down, put him back in his bed. If he starts to cry, you wait 30 seconds before taking him in your arms. Then the next time you wait 45 seconds. And so on.
We hope this article gives you some insight into how to put your baby to sleep independently. If you have any other questions about sleep, we recommend our article « baby's sleep ».
You can also read our entire blog and our testimonials.