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Read some of our great articles on a range of parenting topics from sleeping to teething. We publish new blog posts regularly and feature a number of baby sleep experts and their top tips

my baby wont self settle

Help! My Baby Won't Self Settle! Advice From The Experts

A baby who can self settle is often claimed to be the 'holy grail' of infants. But how do you get your baby to do it and is it the end of the world if they don't settle them selves off to sleep? 

If you're unsure of what the term 'self settle' actually means then it's generally used for a baby that can nod off to sleep on their own without input from the parents. It can vary in meaning of course, and won't mean the same to every family. Does it really matter if your baby won't self settle? Will it mean that you barely get any sleep as a parent? We've asked four knowledgeable baby sleep consultants their opinions on 'Self Settling' and what advice they would give to a parent worrying their baby doesn't do it! 

So, over to our experts!

Help I can't settle my baby

"There are so many reasons why a child or baby won't "self settle" and some people argue that a baby shouldn't self settle. They feel this refers to a baby being upset and having to settle themselves without their parent or carers comfort. I'm not that particular and know the term is commonplace for referring to a baby learning how to fall asleep independently and then being able to link sleep cycles together. When a baby or child can't do this its mostly because they either don't know how yet developmentally or they don't know how because they are used to someone ie mum or dad doing it for them. The only time your baby not self settling becomes a when you don't don't to do it for them anymore." - 
Lindsey Your Sleep Support
"Learning to self soothe is a vital process which babies need to learn at some point. Some children it can be a quick process but for many babies it is a skill they require plenty of practice to master. 


The key is to keep trying… try for at least one nap a day to get your Little Darling to self soothe and only offer comfort to the point where the baby is calm, at that point it is key to let them do the work and put themselves to sleep. You can use your voice first by shhhhing and if after a minute this is not working, then try gentle touch with a hand on their bum and soft movements. Once the baby is calmer, step back and allow them the opportunity to fall to sleep on their own. It will get easier the more that you both practice but don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t work, try again the next time." - Gemma Hush Little Darling
"I actually don’t like the phrase ‘self settle’. I often think it can be misinterpreted as leaving an upset baby to soothe themselves which in my books it’s not. I usually refer to the term ‘fall asleep independently’ in its place, which is a much more positive phrase.
My first piece of advise would be…  “Don’t worry! There is so much we can do to help. My first piece of advice is to place baby in their sleeping environment drowsy but awake, if they become upset or distressed soothe them as they need but return them to the sleeping environment when they settle. This will allow them to learn the skill of falling asleep independently without the need for a sleep association, eg. Rocking to sleep." - Sophie Snooze Sleep Consultancy


So hopefully that's put your mind at ease slightly, we've also got some info on how to cope with your newborns sleeping habits that might be worth reading if you're struggling.

Further Reading:

Expert Sleep Tips for Newborn Babies
5 Common Reasons Why Your Baby Wakes at Night
4 Common Toddler Nap Problems and Their Solutions

Free baby sleep tips according to your baby's age

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