Helping Infants Fall Asleep on Their Own

Edited and reviewed by Becky DiLettuso, MSW Executive Director

getting infants to sleep on their own

When babies and toddlers reach a certain age they may have difficulty falling asleep without the parent rocking them to sleep or being in the room.  So how do you teach your baby to begin to comfort themselves at bedtime? Here are a few approaches to consider:

  • Use the method of graduated “Crying it out”. This is when parents put their baby down after  their usual bedtime routine and let the baby cry until they fall asleep while increasing the amount of time when the parent comes into the room. What this means is that as a parent you checking on the baby without picking them up; waiting longer and longer periods of time before going in the room. As a parent once you know your child is all right, after  a smile and a pat reassuring your child that all is well, leave the room. For instance, a parent might start at coming in to check after two 2 minutes and then gradually increasing the time in increments, repeating this routine until the baby falls asleep independently. Be patient, this will take time!
  •  Shifting bedtimes when parents move a baby’s bedtime later by 10—15 minutes each night so the baby is tired at bedtime. When the baby reaches a point where he falls asleep soon after being put down, that becomes “bedtime.”