baby

An expert shares the one way new parents can teach their babies to self-settle.

Philips Avent
Thanks to our brand partner, Philips Avent

When you’ve got a new baby your mind is consumed by just one thought: how the hell can I get back to counting sheep?

If you’ve had no sleep for weeks because your baby has had no sleep for weeks, the Sleep Whisperer is here to help.

And yes. You probably do need help.

Listen: The Sleep Whisperer explains how to teach your baby to self-settle.

Elizabeth Sloane is author of the The Gift of Sleep and she is credited with breaking cycles of sleeplessness, emotional exhaustion and frustration for babies and their parents.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, babies aren’t designed to sleep through the night. But when you’re baby is waking up every 20 minutes, it might be time to consider sleep training.

“Sleep training is for those families… that have had lots of wakes during the night then decide that they would like to get their baby sleeping through,” the mother of three explains.

But sleep training is not something you should consider until your baby reaches six months or seven kilos, whichever comes first.

Sleep training teaches your baby to self-settle, so he or she no longer relies on your arsenal of tricks to fall asleep. This means no more rocking, cooing, singing or breastfeeding your baby until they nod off.

When it all gets too much, just call Elizabeth Sloane. (Image: Getty)

Sloane acknowledges that having a self-settling baby can seem like a big deal for new mums. Those who hear others talking about it in their mother's groups can feel like a failure if their baby isn't there yet.

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She says these stories from other mums like, "miraculously from week four or week five Henry slept through!" can be "sole destroying for new mothers."

But trust the baby expert when she says that every baby is different, and there is nothing wrong with that.

"If you need to continue breastfeeding your baby during the night and cuddles and patting and shushing, all those things are completely fine. There should be no one out there judging any woman who is comfortable with that or happy to co-bed or happy to breastfeed to sleep," she says.

"If you're not comfortable with any sleep training... it's absolutely fine!"

So what is the key to self-settling? Sloane says you should begin by taking away those sleep associations so your baby doesn't rely on you to fall asleep.

"When you take away a sleep association from a baby there will always be grizzling and protest particularly on night two. But it's important that you realise that moving through after that stage it then really is like a magic wand. Because once they've moved out of that weaning off period, they then are moved back to this peaceful, calm, happier baby self-settling," the Sleep Whisper says.

The second step is to set a routine.

"In terms of setting night and day, it's very important from six months on to do that. Because we move into that gorgeous 6.30 routine where they're up by 3.30 in the afternoon. We pull the blinds, we start to introduce a bedtime story," Sloane says.

And if it helps assuage your worries, remember - Sloane isn't advocating a controlled crying or tough love method.

"There's no suggestion that we put a baby in the cot and leave the room," she explains.

If you want to cuddle and soothe your baby, you can. There are no hard and fast rules and the best thing for your baby is the best thing for you too.

Now shut your eyes and listen to the full episode of Year One:

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Join the discussion in the Year One With Baby Facebook group, here.

This podcast is made possible by Philips Avent.

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