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How do you teach a baby to self soothe?

Home Forums Parenting Infant How do you teach a baby to self soothe?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Dasia Dasia 5 years, 4 months ago.

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    Are there tips or strategies for helping a baby to learn self-soothing while in their crib? I can’t handle the "cry it out" method for too long, but I don’t want to come running to his side too soon either.

    Profile photo of Dasia

    With my children, going to them when they cried and comforting was the first step of teaching them to self soothe. It didn’t so much make them overly dependent as it did make them calmer and better positioned them to soothe themselves as time went on. I didn’t let them get to the point of frantic crying, which I found only made them more stressed during bedtime. It might be hard at first, but in the long run, I found it worked best for my family.

    Profile photo of


    I don’t really think that there is a good method of teaching a baby to self soothe, particularly as an infant. Some babies just need more comforting and holding than others. Just know that this will pass eventually! You’re not alone.


    Kate Teece

    I think this is a great question, and one that I’ve wondered myself. (I have a 1.5 year old son.) I agree — Books may say that it’s good for babies to learn to "self soothe", but it’s pretty tough to train a little one to do that. Depending on the age of the infant, Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s can be great. (See "Happiest Baby on the Block"). As my son got older, I found that those tricks were less useful, so then we went to other tactics. The "cry-it-out" method took some perseverance, but it did work well in the long run. Now my son has developed an attachment to a blankie and stuffed animal. He certainly does still have crying fits, and he seems to respond well if I sing to him. But sometimes there isn’t a lot left to do, so we have to wait it out until he settles down. I do think that every child may be different in what soothes them.


    I agree that parental soothing is the best path toward a baby learning to self-soothe. My son seemed to grow more confident with being in bed alone for naps or bedtime once he firmly understood that I was still around even if I wasn’t in the room with him. When he "cried it out" for a few minutes, I would come in to see him (which helped me to know that he was ok), let him see me (which let him know that I was there), stroke his face and speak softly to him for just a few seconds. After a few rounds of that over several nights/nap times, he seemed to learn to be calm on his own. I really believe that when a child knows that his caring parent is there they can rest assured!

    Profile photo of Jessica

    Hi K8,

    Dr Karp tips are amazing and do work. Believe it you can teach little ones major milestone changes. Cry it out people get confused with  because cry it out does not mean when the child cries. Cry it out is when you leave the child without coming to their aid, for a pat on the back, hug, touch or kind words for excessive amounts of time.

    Way to go trying Dr. Karp!

    Profile photo of Jessica

    Hi Jenny,

    Self soothing could be physically showing your child how to use the paci, suck their hands, rocking (but not to sleep), cuddles, showing them how t oroll over when frustrated etc. When you begin to learn their cues, in my professional opinion keeping yourself calm, your voice calm is all the better. This will ease the child to understand that it is okay. Pick a time that you allow him/her to use their self soothing and then go in after that time, use kind words, a touch, a pat, or a hug. This will trememdously help.

    I also love to remind people that the definition of cry it out, is not whne your child cries, this is when you leave the child unattended, with no words, no kind touches and no reassurance for extreme times. Just remember when your child does cry (not for extended periods) it is because he does not have the language to say exactly what is wrong.

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