Guiding your baby to sleep independently

Sleeping independently is an essential skill for every child. Not only does it ensure a better night's sleep for both parent and child, but it also promotes the development of your baby. Guiding your baby to independent sleep can be a challenge, especially if your baby is used to being rocked or fed to sleep. In this blog you will discover useful tips that you can apply yourself to guide your baby to sleeping independently.

By independent sleeping we mean: falling asleep without parental help. A newborn baby is not yet able to sleep independently. Your child prefers to be very close to you and prefers to fall asleep on top of you. Other ways to help your baby fall asleep include feeding, rocking him to sleep, giving him a pacifier or going for a ride in the stroller or car.

These are excellent ways to get your child to sleep, but it is not always feasible to perform these actions if, for example, your child is awake in the middle of the night. That is why as a parent you want to strive for a situation in which your child can sleep without your help.

Sleep independently at your own pace

It is wise to start introducing positive sleep associations and healthy sleeping habits from birth. Please realize that this does not have a direct effect on very young children. Only from around 4 months, when your baby has developed a little further, can you really start guiding your child to sleep independently in a more targeted manner.

We would like to emphasize that every child is unique and that some babies learn faster than others. It is therefore essential to be patient and take the time to guide your baby to sleep independently at his or her own pace.

The basics are in order

Let's first look at the basics. Learning to sleep independently is only possible if the basics are in order. So take care of all basic needs during the day, such as nutrition, touch, closeness, cuddling, playing, laughing and connecting. This way, your child is satisfied and can surrender to sleep more easily. The sleeping environment is also extremely important. Provide a dark and irritating place to sleep, where the temperature is around 18 degrees.

Furthermore, it is important to realize that good sleep depends on all kinds of factors. Also read the blog about this ‘This is how you create the ideal conditions for sleep'.

Peace and regularity

A baby experiences new things almost every day and therefore likes it when certain things are the same every day. Rest and regularity provide predictability and this gives your baby something to hold on to. It is therefore smart to introduce as much fixed structure into your daily rhythm as possible. A fixed structure is especially important for the bedtime ritual. When you put your child to bed, always do everything in the same order. For example, first a clean diaper, then feeding, then cuddling with some lullaby music on. What exactly the sequence is is actually less important than the routine. As long as you do exactly the same thing every day, your baby will know it's time to go to sleep.

Positive sleep associations

Make use of as many positive sleep associations as possible during your bedtime ritual. Examples include soft music, singing a song, reading a story, a recognizable scent, a night light, putting on a sleeping bag, swaddling or tucking in tightly. NUNKI. Your child will recognize these things and will have a positive association with them. Your baby will then feel comfortable and safe, resulting in him being able to relax better and fall asleep more easily.

Put away awake

One of the most frequently mentioned tips is to put your baby down awake. It is important that your baby is tired, but not yet (fully) asleep when you put him to bed. This way your baby can get used to the crib as a place to sleep and learn to fall asleep on their own. If you put your baby down to sleep, he may panic when he wakes up. He is then suddenly in a different place than when he fell asleep and that does not feel pleasant.

Sleeping independently can be very exciting for your child in the beginning. Therefore, stay in the room for a while in the beginning. If your child knows that you are nearby, he will feel safer and can settle down to sleep more easily. This way you can gradually get your baby used to being alone in the crib.

Fatigue signals

To put your baby to bed at the right time, it is important to keep an eye on signs of fatigue. As soon as your child yawns a lot, rubs his eyes or suddenly starts moving restlessly, he is probably tired and it is time to put your child to bed. Even if it's not actually bedtime yet. Structure and rhythm are important, but listening to your child is even more important. If you wait until the actual bedtime, there is a good chance that your child has already produced the stress hormone cortisol, which suddenly makes sleeping a lot more difficult.

Baby monitor

Another important tip that you probably already thought of: use a baby monitor to monitor your baby remotely. This way you can keep an eye on how your baby is doing anytime and anywhere, without having to be in the same room. Your baby will then learn to be alone in the room and when necessary, you will be directly with your child.

Patience and trust

One of the most difficult things about guiding your child to sleep independently is patience and trust that everything will work out in the end. A consistent approach is important, otherwise your child will not have enough time to get used to it. Most children need at least a week to get used to something new. Give your child the time he needs.

Consistency is therefore paramount, but your baby can sometimes suddenly react differently than normal due to new experiences or physical discomfort. A few bad nights does not mean immediate decline! Listen carefully to what your baby has to tell you and focus on your bond of trust. Comfort your baby when necessary, be patient and have faith that step by step things will go in the right direction.  

Good luck!



Frederieke Meihuizen

Owner Fedde&Kees®

Ik ben Frederieke, getrouwd met Ewoud en mama van 4 kindjes. Na op veel plekken gewoond te hebben, ben ik gesetteld in Nieuwkoop. Ik werkte in de commercie tot mijn vierde kindje geboren werd. Fedde was een huilbaby en vanuit deze wanhoop heb ik de producten van Fedde&Kees bedacht. Ik gooide mijn leven om en begon met ondernemen. Sinds 2018 help ik andere ouders naar een betere slaap!