Babies can resettle – the controversial subject of ‘self-soothing’  true or false?

If you have read Goodnight Solutions blog – Sleep cycles , normal sleep?  (https://www.goodnightsolutions.co.uk/sleep-cycles-normal-sleep/)  you may remember that waking in the night is normal for babies and adults alike.

So how then do some parents report their babies as young as 5 weeks will sleep for 5 hours? Answer – by having a baby who does not signal to his or her parents when they do wake.

A small study performed in 2015 on 101 London babies by Ian St James-Roberts et al showed the average time of crying in the night at 5 weeks old was 1 minutes 6 seconds before the baby fell asleep again, this was slightly increased at 3 months to 1 minute and 19 seconds of crying before settling again without parental help. Amazingly the study also showed that in the 6-7 weeks between 5 weeks and 3 months these babies managed an extra 2 hours sleep at night – quite a developmental achievement in a short space of time!

Another interesting finding of this study was that those babies that were allowed to resettle themselves at 5 weeks, had those same skills at 3 months and beyond. In contrast the babies who signaled (ie cried) and were not given an opportunity to resettle themselves before parental  intervention were shown to still need parental help to sleep at 5 months of age and were more likely to have longer term sleep problems. Obviously there are limitations from this study (as outlined by the researchers themselves) and only 101 babies from mainly affluent well-educated parents were videoed, but none the less food for thought!

What does this teach us about babies resettling themselves or ‘self-soothing’ ?

Firstly they need an opportunity to be allowed to learn this skill.

Secondly 1 minute 6 seconds is a huge length of time to listen to your baby cry for in the middle of the night – hence quite emotionally challenging  to acheive!

Thirdly if your baby is still audibly distressed and not calming after that average time of 1-2 minutes then most likely they need feeding and attention.

If you would like the full article read it here;

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4459553/

Visit www.goodnightsolutions.co.uk for further information.