Supporting baby to self settle

19 Mar

Do you find yourself up and down each night, attempting to resettle your child? Do you often ask yourself, “why did I start rocking her in the first place?” or “who’s idea was it to start breast/bottle feeding her to sleep?” Please don’t worry. It’s never too late to change these patterns. If everyone is on board and we make a plan and stick to it, change WILL happen. Here’s our quick, basic plan to give parents some tips that may help now or in the future.

• If you are comforting your baby all the way to sleep, (eg. by rocking or feeding to sleep) start changing this by still comforting, but laying your baby down drowsy, but awake for sleeps each day. For an even gentler approach, start by gradually shortening the amount of time you spend comforting to sleep – rock your baby for just 5 minutes, for example, instead of 10 minutes.
• Create strong, consistent sleep routines. If you haven’t already, introduce a consistent nap time and bedtime routine. These routines serve as signals to your baby that sleep time is approaching. (This can also include ‘sleep associations’ – we will talk about this later)
• Allow some time – even just a minute or two – between hearing your baby cry and rushing in to comfort her. Waiting even just a minute, gives your baby a chance to find the tools she needs to calm herself down; whether it’s a movement, listening to a sound or anything else she can follow through with herself. This is a key part of learning to self-settle.
• Don’t wait too long to encourage self-settling. Children who have not learned to self-settle by the age of one, are more likely to still have trouble falling asleep unaided by age 2. In some cases they continue to wake at night up to the age of 4. Through our work with families, we have learnt that it tends to be harder to correct a toddler’s sleep associations than it is to correct a baby’s.
• If you decide to adopt a ‘sleep plan’, along side professionals or independently – stick to it. If you and your support person start the process and two nights in one of you ‘give up’ and revert to the patterns that were previously established (ie rocking, patting, feeding to sleep), no one benefits. You almost certainly will have to start from day one of the plan all over again. Effectively, your two-steps forwards ends up being three steps back.
• Before implementing any sleep settling strategy, please ensure that you have the time, patience and commitment to gently and consistently introduce change that will benefit both you and your baby.


  1. Fabia
    3 years ago

    Oh no! Rocking may become a huge problem. For us it started with ust few minutes, half an hour… After few weeks there was not even napping without rocking. I used Susan Urbans sleep training guide. I could not manage it myself. But if not rocking I wouldn’t even think about sleep training! And after all it turned out very useful.

    1. JulieLeech - Author
      3 years ago

      Hello Fabia. At Karma Kids we believe in a gentle, supportive approach to baby’s sleep. An individual approach that works for both parents and baby. We were not suggesting rocking to sleep as an effective settling strategy, but that if you are currently rocking your baby you could gradually reduce the time spent rocking with a view to hopefully not needing to rock at all. In some instances parents are happy to rock baby to sleep particularly if they spend long periods of time away from baby during the day, it is a time they both look forward to and some parents are happy to do this and enjoy the one on one with their baby. When it does become a challenge for parents we suggest that you try our tried and tested settling techniques. We are glad that you were able to find an approach that worked for your family.

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