Self soothing is a skill that most babies already have, it just gets lost along the way or becomes harder for them to master.
I have found that I have had to use the dummy a lot more than I intended too with Jack.
During the night particularly. He has been waking my other boys up with his cries in the night so the dummy has been a very easy option.
One thing that is very common with newborns is that they will fuss for a little while when you put them down for sleep. Sometimes they may not, but the majority of the time you will find they will.
Crying is totally expected of a newborn.
It’s a normal process for them to go through (I’m not talking hours of crying here, a few minutes or less). Crying is their way of communicating, and until they can actually have a chat about things with you, they will continue to cry to communicate. Best to accept it and not let it cause unnecessary anxiety (I’m talking about you here).
I say this after being HIGHLY anxious when my second baby popped out and he cried for what seemed like 9 weeks straight. My first was what you would consider a very quiet baby so I was very unprepared for a noisy one! I wondered what on earth was wrong the majority of the time. It was very confusing to me.
Fast forward a few years and I have learnt a lot about that time. My second had silent reflux which contributed a lot to his fussiness but I also learnt that he was just a vocal little being. Still is! and that’s ok.
So this leads me to the final newborn goal that you should keep in mind as the weeks go on.
NEWBORN SLEEP GOAL 3: ALLOW FOR SELF SOOTHING STRATEGIES
One of the most crucial elements for teaching children to go to sleep and stay asleep is helping them develop self soothing strategies. We all have them. Some of us have to be in a certain position in order to fall asleep, others need the window open and socks on, some like to read a book before falling asleep.
Whatever it is, we all have ways that we soothe ourselves into sleep. If your child depends on a ‘prop’ to fall asleep – such as breastfeeding, a bottle, a dummy, patting, rocking, or even sucking on Mum’s finger, then they will find it difficult to get back to sleep without their ‘prop’ (and they will naturally wake multiple times in the night, therefore looking for their prop each time). It is important that we teach our children skills so they can fall asleep themselves and begin to sleep peacefully.
At this stage, one of the most common sleep props is breastfeeding. In the back of your mind try not to feed (breast or bottle) your baby to sleep.
Of course, this is next to impossible to achieve 100% of the time when they are very young. The Eat-Play-Sleep schedule will however greatly help.
Putting your baby down in his cot or bassinet already asleep from time to time will not be the end of the world. However, keep in mind your goal here. Put baby down awake as much as possible.
If your baby starts to cry
If your baby fusses once placed into his bassinet or cot, wait a minute or two to see if he can settle himself. You may find you only have to wait a matter of seconds before the crying stops.
It really is worth waiting to see if baby can settle himself before you intervene. If he continues to be upset, pick him up and walk around the room a bit until he is calm.
Once calm, return him to his bassinet or cot. If he fusses again, wait a few minutes to see how he will respond. If the fussing turns to crying, pick him up again. Walk around the bedroom until he is calm, and then put him back into the cot or bassinet.
Repeat this process as many times as it takes for him to fall asleep.
Resist the temptation to let him fall asleep in your arms. This can prevent baby learning the skill of self soothing.
If this continues long enough that another feed is needed (this should be rare), then feed him. Do your best to keep him awake. Then right back to the bassinet or cot and keep trying.
NOTE: By the 12 week point, baby really should be going down into their cot awake 100% of the time. The main reason for this is that the 4 month regression will soon hit. You definitely do not want any prop in sight for that one! You want the self soothing skill strong at this point.
So remember I mentioned my dummy use?
Over time, the boys will get used to feeding noises in the night. So I decided to bite the bullet and pull back on the dummy and work on Jack’s self soothing skills.
It is still a work in progress not using it at all, but we’ll get there. The combination of kick starting a good bedtime routine is helping him to self soothe without it.
I still recommend the use of a dummy for certain times with a newborn (I was at a business lunch yesterday and Jack was fussing in the pram so in popped the dummy so I could stay a bit longer). However, be conscious of whether it is becoming a ‘sleep prop’. If it is, start to pull back on the use.