You’re Baby Won’t Sleep? Putting Yourself to Sleep is a Learned Skill

  • 0
  • February 01, 2004

Baby SleepingResearch shows it takes the average person 15-20 minutes to fall asleep. What do YOU do during this time? Some parents read, take a both, meditate, or watch TV. Children, too, need to find something to help put themselves to sleep – playing with stuffed animals, sucking their thumb, looking at books, twirling their hair, rubbing their blanket, humming, rocking, or babbling. We need to give our children the opportunity to find what relaxes them and helps them fall asleep; sleep is a learned skill.

When you put a sleeping child to bed, you are interfering with the development of their natural sleep triggers. Children need opportunity to experiment and find what out works for them. Remember with sleep, it is not what we do for our children, but what they learn to do for themselves. Learning to not jump in too quickly to rescue our children from frustration is difficult, but necessary. As with any taught lesson in childhood, from potty training to good manners, gentle guidance, praise, support and love are the keys to success.

After following your normal nighttime routine, continually offer your child the same blanket, stuffed animal, soft music, or books to quietly be with while in his crib or bed. Encouraging this habit will become relaxing for your child as he learns to use these items to help him to fall asleep on his own. Often times just the sight or smell of these objects can have a soporific effect on the child, making him relax and mentally prepare for good night’s sleep. Just as a cup of chamomile tea may be your solution to peaceful sleep, remember how long this habit took for you to develop. Offering your child the opportunity to develop his own sleep triggers will become a tool he will use for the rest of his life!

Was this article helpful to you? Please tell us by commenting below! For more baby, toddler, and family sleep tips and tricks, please subscribe to The Sleep Lady’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube channel! If you are looking for more sleep content, please check out Get Sleep Now-an exclusive members-only area designed to provide in-depth help and support during your sleep coaching experience.

photo credit: sundaykofax via photopin cc

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

Did you find this article helpful? Please share it with your friends by clicking below, or ask a question on The Sleep Lady Facebook page.

Share this article: Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Some of the posts featured on this website may contain affiliate links. This means I have the potential to receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links. This allows me to help cover the expense of running the site while keeping the content 100% free. Note that I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!

Trackbacks

  1. […] is simply not true. Believe it or not, sleep is not something that you are born knowing how to do. Falling asleep and staying asleep (and even putting yourself back to sleep) are all things that everyone has to learn. Sleep is one […]

  2. […] to associate the blankie with sleeping.  Be sure to give it to your baby to hold as part of their bedtime routine, even while nursing or taking a bottle before bedtime and […]

  3. […] unnecessary crutch at bedtime. A primary rule of encouraging healthy sleep habits bears repeating: It’s vital to teach your baby to drop off by himself, without needing to nurse, say, or be rocked—and you certainly don’t want him to rely on […]

  4. […] Your child has not yet learned the skill of putting him or herself to sleep independently. […]

  5. […] If you answered “yes” to any of  these questions your child may not be getting enough sleep. […]

  6. […] very fabric of committed co-sleepers, but hear me out, please. Naps are the perfect time to begin teaching your child to fall asleep independently. The ability to put your baby down “drowsy but awake” and know that your baby will fall asleep […]

  7. […] “Do I have to sleep coach? Will my child just outgrow this?” My answer is always the same: sleep is a learned skill. Many parents are surprised to learn that sleep is not something you’re born with, rather, it’s […]

  8. […] some point, everyone needs to learn to put themselves to sleep, and that includes your co-sleeping toddler. The point of co-sleeping is to allow everyone in the […]

  9. […] that if you are co-sleeping safely and the whole family is happy and rested then fabulous–but make sure you teach them how to put themselves to sleep independently. That is a life skill they will always need! Sounds like your son has half the skill of putting […]

  10. […] unnecessary crutch at bedtime. A primary rule of encouraging healthy sleep habits bears repeating: It’s vital to teach your child to drop off by herself, without needing to nurse, say, or be rocked—and you certainly don’t want her to rely on […]

  11. […] have to do with me?” The fact is, it has a lot to do with you. As parents, it’s up to us to teach our children good sleep habits, both through sleep coaching when they are younger and leading by example as they […]