If you’re struggling to get your 3 or even 4-month-old to self-settling during the day, there are few things you can do. We don’t do any structured sleep training at this stage, mainly because they’re just simply too young and it’s not well supported by literature that sleep training is good at this age.
What I would advise you do is really look at that environment – Is the room really dark? Are you using white noise? Is it quite loud? Is it going continuously or is it timing out after 30 minutes? Are you timing their naps correctly? Are you using wakeful periods? Are you keeping baby up for too long? A lot of people try to stretch their babies’ wakeful periods out, keeping them up for as long as possible to make them really tired. It’s just counterproductive. It’s just going to make her overtired and overwhelmed.
Another tip I’ve mentioned in another blog post would be to work on having baby go into her cot more alert. Very rarely can you put a three-month-old into the cot awake and have them just fall asleep. It’s just not how they work. You do need to support them to sleep. Swaddling nice and firmly around the top half, but looser around the hips, and pat, pat, pat, rock, rock, rock, in that dark room with the white noise up loud, ocean sounds or whatever.
Then working on having them going into their cot a little bit more awake each week. The first week you try, she might be 100 percent asleep in your arms. There’s nothing wrong with supporting her to sleep in your arms. Then very gradually get her into the cot earlier.
If she wakes up and starts crying, that’s okay, pick her up and start again. We’re going to teach her that if she cries we’ll pick her up, that’s totally fine, she’s just little. Then once we’ve got that nailed, try putting her into bed 90 percent asleep and do the next ten percent of settling in the cot.
Again, if it all screws up and she gets crazy, then pick her up, that’s okay. Gradually, we’re shifting from 100 percent asleep in your arms/zero percent in the cot to 50 percent asleep in your arms and 50 percent in the cot. Then we can start trying to only do a little bit in the cot and actually have her drift off herself. It really is the only way that I would encourage you to have her self-settle because anything else is going to involve a lot of crying and at this age, it’s just not appropriate.
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