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When can a baby self soothe?

(26 Posts)
vtiredparents Mon 05-Sep-16 19:09:02

My 14 week old baby can only sleep whilst being held. He has/had silent reflux and was very upset the first month which in turn resulted in us holding him a lot!

Any advice on self soothing?

spad Mon 05-Sep-16 19:11:41

Get a second hand mechanical baby swing and cosy your little up in that. I wouldn't leave a baby to self settle for six months, that's what I've been told anyway.

Good luck!

vtiredparents Mon 05-Sep-16 19:17:07

Should add - I mean what developmental age can they do this on their own?

Should also add, baby is 18lbs at 13 weeks and is a very bad napper. He will nap if i sit on the couch with him all day.

spad Mon 05-Sep-16 20:09:31

What do you mean by developmental age?

vtiredparents Mon 05-Sep-16 20:15:26


When they can go to sleep on their own.

I thought it may be to do with the thing called the 'four trimester' - where they don't like to be put down.

eyebrowsonfleek Mon 05-Sep-16 20:31:27

If he's refluxy then my guess is that he'll improve when you wean at 6 months?

Pointeshoes Mon 05-Sep-16 20:42:08

I think it depends on the baby and how you get them to sleep - I have a 6 yr old who was terrible to go down in the cot as a baby as I used to rock him to sleep and had a dummy so he just used to wake up when put down or when the dummy fell out.
Now we have twins they have to settle them selves as I can't comfort them both at the Same time . They fall asleep snuggling there hands at their faces! I would say get into a routine so bath / feed put in cot tired but not overly tired - use white noise or music If needed - shhh and pat pat. Ours (12 weeks) have gotten used to been fed , winded and put straight back in cot at night so it is just consistency. Also they don't have dummies- their choice as I did try them but they're are better off without if you can manage without. Try a comforter like 'cuski' instead. Maybe try going for a walk in pram just to get out of holding to sleep to start with.

Andcake Tue 06-Sep-16 20:50:40

Reliably when ds was 3 years old

MonkeyBrainsInPickle Tue 06-Sep-16 20:54:22

About 8.5 months for my DD. Can you transfer the baby to the cot once they are asleep?

vtiredparents Tue 06-Sep-16 21:09:39

Thanks for everyone's replies!

I have been gently trying to get baby to self settle - it's successful in the evenings but day time naps last no more than 30 minutes. Think this is because he can't get get himself through the sleep cycles.

I can sometimes transfer him to his bouncer during the day, but it's not something that lasts - 20 mins tops.

Has anyone done sleep training? How long does it take for them to not be upset when left to go to sleep?

pettyprudence Tue 06-Sep-16 21:31:40

Ds was also a reflux baby BUT absolutely hated being rocked/soothed to sleep or any interaction at all - took me 8 weeks and a lot of screaming to suss this and then I'd just leave him in a quiet dark room or push him in a pushchair (but with a muslin hanging over as he really couldn't handle any stimulation). He had a dummy.

Dd also a (silent) reflux baby had no choice but to learn to self settle early (had a ds to deal with too) - she took a little longer to sleep reliably on her own (3 months-ish) and was very reluctant to sleep anywhere except me or cot. I used a sling a lot and a cot mobile. She briefly had a dummy but (still) prefers to suck her fingers.

MonkeyBrainsInPickle Tue 06-Sep-16 21:34:42

I didn't do any sleep training as DD just got it herself at eight months-ish. I think most sleep trainings not supposed to be done before six months. There are gentle methods you can use, it doesn't have to be controlled crying. I was considering trying gradual retreat but I didn't need to in the end. The people on the sleep board are fairly knowledgable I think.

winewinewhine Tue 06-Sep-16 21:34:42

My son was refluxy and similar. His naps were awful till I followed Gina Ford's suggested timing (timings, Not methods). They really suited him and we've used them ever since. Within a couple of days he was napping 2 hours.

Oly5 Tue 06-Sep-16 21:40:11

It's perfectly normal for a 14 week old baby to want to be held and to take very short naps during the day.
There is nothing "wrong" either your baby. This is all natural.
I had a reflux baby and it was hell, things improved at six months and again at a year.
He didn't sleep through the night reliably til he was about 20 months.
Do not sleep train such a young baby, it is incredibly cruel.
Let him fall almost
Asleep in your arms and then transfer to cot. 14 weeks is tiny. I know it's torture but it will get better.
The daytime naps will get longer over time without you doing anything.
And consider co-sleeping for part of the night so you get some rest.
I have a five year old and a two year old and they have happily slept in their beds for yonks.

danadas Tue 06-Sep-16 21:42:30

13 weeks is still brand new. Please don't sleep train. They don't learn to self soothe, they just learn that no one comes.

I know it's hard, believe me I know but right now baby needs you. When older there are gentle ways to help with sleep.

Ilovenannyplum Tue 06-Sep-16 21:51:00

My DS (who had v bad reflux) would only nap on me during the day until he was around 8 months, I used to get a drink and the tv remote close to hand and get comfy for a couple of hours. And then one day he just fell asleep in the cot and he never looked back.

He's just turned 2 and I would give anything for him to nap on me again sad

vtiredparents Tue 06-Sep-16 22:02:27

I didn't realise that the definition of sleep training was cruel. He is not upset, we are very gentle with our encouragement and it may take longer this way but I do believe that the gentler the better.

My baby is going on 19lbs - it isn't easy for my to carry him about as much as he liked he is also very upset all day as he doesn't know how to nap and I think that's actually quite distressing.

BertieBotts Tue 06-Sep-16 22:30:37

14 weeks is waaay too early for sleep training. Don't worry about holding him. He's only little yet.

If you think about what self soothing actually is, it's being able to be comforted by themselves, whether that's just a baby which is happy to be alone, a baby which is happy knowing you're not far away, a baby who can amuse themselves and engage in comfort behaviours alone or being able to "self talk" and rationalise.

All of that's really beyond a little baby unless you're lucky enough to have one which is naturally happy to be left alone. Most of them are not because they are really just wired for survival over and above all else. Babies are completely defenceless, so back when we were monkeys/cavemen, it would have made sense that their instinct makes them want to be with someone who can protect them all the time. Now, of course, we have houses and such to protect babies from predators but babies don't know that. They only run on instinct and their instinct is to be around you because you can protect them. They don't necessarily have any thought process around this, it's extremely simple that when they are with you they feel safe and contented and when they are away from you they feel strange and unnatural which makes them cry.

They definitely can't "self talk" yet, this function begins between 2-4 years once they have developed enough language to allow for it, the internalised voice coming even later, taking until 7 or 8 with some children. So thinking about other ways babies can comfort themselves:

Knowing you're nearby but not right with them, and/or that you will come back is also something that comes later, but not so much later. At 14 weeks, babies only know when you're right there with them. They don't yet have "object permanence" which means that as soon as something disappears from their line of sight (hearing, smell, etc) they don't understand that it still exists but somewhere else. They only know what they can directly experience. There are more thorough descriptions of this online and the different stages of it, but most babies start to understand this by about 5 months and it's only fully developed by 18 months or so. It might be a long time before your baby is happy to be left safely understanding that you're not gone, you're just in another room. Sleep training where you leave them for short periods and return is based on this understanding, so it's worth keeping an eye on their general behaviour around people/objects to see if they seem to understand that when something is gone it can still be near, before you attempt any form of sleep training.

Being able to self-comfort by performing comforting behaviours such as sucking or stroking or self-amuse might be closer on the horizon. Occupying themselves by looking at and playing with objects in their cot tends to happen when they are able to move around a bit and perhaps sit up, somewhere from 4 to 8 months. Some babies are happy enough to be left when they can do this and they'll play happily until they feel sleepy enough to drop off, but some babies get bored quickly or the "Where's mum?" feeling will overwhelm them sooner, and they'll get upset.

You could try introducing comfort items such as a (safe) comfort toy, a dummy, a light/music toy, or a blanket/muslin but if your baby doesn't naturally find these things comforting, it's likely to be a process of getting them to associate that item that you want to be a sleep cue with all of the loving, safe, comforting settling that you do already and only then transitioning away from the bits you want to stop while keeping the cues there for them to hopefully induce them into a state of relaxation and sleep. I don't know that this is really "self" settling because it's more that you are using an object to comfort them rather than yourselves, but I think for many parents, it's close enough! And it can help with any transitions later on as well e.g. stopping dummy use later or moving from a cot to a bed. Do bear in mind that if you use something like a dummy or a toy that makes sounds before they can restart this activity by themselves you might have to replace the dummy/restart the toy several times during the night as well as feeding.

Hope that helps! And congratulations on your new baby.

BertieBotts Tue 06-Sep-16 22:31:40

Do you have a good sling? They can definitely save your arms!

Katkin14 Wed 07-Sep-16 20:53:33

I had a baby with silent reflux. If I put him down straight after a feed he always woke up about 30 mins later. This is when the milk starts to digest and pushes out of their tummy and causes them pain. If I held him upright for 30 mins after his feed and then slowly put him down he'd often sleep for another couple of hours. He was also prescribed infant gaviscon and omeprezole which helped massively. It was all much better when he hit about 5 months and his digestive system had developed enough for the silent reflux to stop. I feel for you though, it was a tough time until then. I think some babies naturally self soothe to some extent from a young age, but from my experience you won't have much luck with this with a silent refluxy baby.

Bumpmadethemjump Wed 07-Sep-16 21:02:52

My dd had her first day at school today, It goes so so quick but you won't realize how quick until its happened. Please just have the cuddles while his still a baby, don't waste the precious moments on sleep training.

blueturtle6 Fri 09-Sep-16 20:15:06

9 months, no training was just ready herself. 14 weeks is still very tiny.

KW89 Fri 09-Sep-16 20:45:18

I think it just depends on the baby to be honest. MY DS1 was self settling at night from 4 months and was sleeping through from 12 weeks (but was an awful napper).
DS2 is almost 14 months and can't self settle, and has just started sleeping through (most nights....don't want to jinx myself!) I still have to sit next to his cot until he's asleep (can take upto 20 mins, or he screams blue murder!) I'm just grateful he's sleeping decent most nights now! It'll happen when they are ready xx

albertcampionscat Fri 09-Sep-16 22:19:04

Precious moments is all very well, but not all of us are lucky enough to cope with broken/no sleep.

YellowSquirrel Thu 15-Sep-16 07:19:21

Mine improved a lot at 4.5 months. Chances of her falling asleep in cot went up to 50%. She also sometimes sleeps for an hour or bit more, before this it was 45 min max.
I walked in buggy, carried in sling, fed to sleep on my lap or if they failed just held her till she cried herself to sleep before every nap.
As I say now I can put in cot drowsy and she may (occasionally) fall asleep on her own.
It hope it gets better for you. Also I recommend a sling or carrier to save your back (can be hired).

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