Teaching Little Man to Self Settle

When you end up rocking your first baby to sleep until 15 months and then through a blur of being pregnant again, crying on all sides, horrendous nights and no sleep you somehow manage to get your baby going to sleep by themselves in their cot, you then promise yourself that next time it will be different, next time your baby will sleep by themselves.

Then your second baby is born and just like the first they feed to sleep mostly and when they don’t feed to sleep they get rocked whilst you sing the bedtime song. It works and everyone’s happy. But before you know it your baby is 17 months old. He weighs as much as your three year old and you cannot go on like this forever. You cannot rock a 2 year old to sleep and so something’s got to give.

So a few weeks ago we decided that it was time for Little Man to learn to go to sleep by himself. I’ve never been one for following advice from ‘Baby Experts’ or having a set routine, we have always just done what feels right and works for us. With this in mind we decided we would bath Little Man, get him into his PJs and sleeping bags, read him books like we usually do and then have a cuddle and sing some nursery rhymes with the lights off. We’d then put him in his cot, sing to him, rub his back and hope that he would go to sleep. If this worked we could hopefully reduce the amount he needed us until we could just put him in his cot and he’d go to sleep.

So that was the dream. Now what was the reality?

Little Man has done amazingly actually. The first couple of nights needed a good half hour of Twinkle Twinkle before he’d calm down and go to sleep but after that he moaned a bit in his cot and then rolled around, playing, kicking the cot bars and chatting to himself before going to sleep. My memory of this same transition with LP is hazy at best, I have blanked it from memory as it was just so traumatic. Little Man on the other hand has taken to his new routine so well, I just hope it continues.

My one worry was that nap times would be horrendous. This is something that LP fought consistently, she never liked napping very much and most days would moan for half an hour before eventually giving in. I’m happy to say though that Little Man is napping well by himself too. We do the same sort of routine, into his sleeping bag, cuddle, sing and into his cot. He then rolls around a bit and goes to sleep.

I think what I have learnt from this is that children all learn things in their own time and when you try something new, and the child is ready, the transition will be smooth. Whether that is moving from breastfeeding, cot to bed, self settling or potty training. Little Man learning to go to sleep by himself has gone more smoothly than I could have imagined.

Teaching Little Man to Self Settle

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  • Well done LM! Fortunately Toby has always self-settled since he was a month or so old, more from good luck than anything we did! The trouble we have now is getting him to stay asleep! I’m so fed up of night wake-ups and stupid early mornings now. I really hope things improve soon… he’s got 4 teeth coming at the moment and I’m crossing my fingers that once they’re through we might get a bit of respite!

  • Well done LM! He sounds like he is doing so well. I am very lucky in that both my girls have self settled quite easily, I have no idea what the best thing to do is but when they were little I used to leave them murmuring or moaning unless they were full on crying- I think that definitely did the trick for us. x

  • Huzzah! Am so happy that he is all settled and well rested. It is hard isn’t it? My girl was the dream but the second time round he is a bit of a nightmare to be honest. I was going to put my boy in his bed at two but I don’t think he is quite ready for that yet. A cot for a while yet! x

  • Well done LM!

    I totally and utterly agree with your sentiment that all babies do things in their own time. I have never pushed Noah into doing anything that he wasn’t fully ready for and he’s always managed to get there in the end.

    We co slept for the past 4 months when we were living with the inlaws because he despised the travel cot. I loved having an excuse to snuggle up to him too. Once we were in the new house we had him in our bed the first night. The following day he napped so well in his cot in his own room (which was amazing cause he always fought naps, hadn’t seen his cot in 4 months, was in a new house) we decided to put him in his cot at night. Never looked back. Thankfully he loves his cot and his room but I do miss those snuggles.

    Ha to all the people who said I would spoil him by co sleeping!!

  • I’m so glad the transition has gone well for all of you. There must be something about 15 months – we took down the bars on one side of M’s cot at that age and changed the bedtime routine completely, because we also found the rocking was just not an option anymore and he suddenly HATED not being able to get out of the cot. These days I’m not sure I could call his going to sleep “self settling” as he wants one of us to lie in bed with him until he’s asleep, but it’s still a world away from the baby days. He’s a toddler with his own ideas about everything and, as you say, when they are ready for something new the transition is easy.