Pick your region
Pick your region
Is it ok to let your baby self soothe?
Jay-Jay & Flynny
Jay-Jay & Flynny

The Self-Soothing debate: Is it okay for a parent to let their baby self-soothe?

We get some advice on a topical debate new parents like our first-time dad Director Dave is facing.
9 August 2023 6:51PM

Parenting is a journey filled with countless decisions, and when you're expecting your first child, you can also expect every other parent to give you their unsolicited advice on raising a child.

Director Dave and his fiance are experiencing this as they expect their first baby in a couple of months. And one piece of "advice" that they have been receiving is adopting the method of self-soothing a baby.

The concept of self-soothing refers to allowing infants to calm themselves down without immediate intervention. And while your paternal instinct may be to stop and help your baby's cries, some advocates suggest that it's a strategy to foster independence and healthy sleep habits.

So we put it to our listener family - what is your take on self-soothing and letting a baby cry out?

On top of some of our callers who gave their experiences with self-soothing, we also received some interesting feedback on our text machine.

"Nothing wrong with self-soothing," shared one parent of three children.

"Didn’t harm my kids and they slept well because of it. It’s short-lived as they learn to self-settle. Best thing I did for my 3. They have zeroes issues and are well-adjusted teens now."

Another mum who had three boys also shared she relied on the self-soothing method after her first child.

"Picking up a baby to soothe every time baby cries will create a bad habit that is hard to break and will put stress on the parents. Always check baby when crying, check for hunger, wet nappy, if baby is hurt, if the above is all good. Gentle rub on tummy and then walk away."

However, other parents strongly disagreed, sharing that babies are not mentally developed to understand.

"Self-soothing is a fallacy."

"Babies just cry until they give up or burn all energy reserves," said one parent, while another simply said, "Babies cry for a reason. Find out why."

And there was one parent who knew it wasn't a one-fix solution, who shared "Depends ENTIRELY on your baby. They are all different and some will NOT self-soothe no matter what."

The strongest opinion to the argument came from expert Plunket nurse, Carly, who disagreed with the method.

"Babies learn to self-soothe. It's developmental. It's not something you can teach them," she shared with Jay-Jay & Flynny.

"And by leaving them to cry it out when they're really distressed, all you're teaching them is that no one's going to come when they cry - so they stop crying."

So while it's a method that does, in theory, stop babies from crying, she says it can be emotionally traumatising.

"If your partner was crying in the middle of the night, would you leave them to cry or would you help soothe them and comfort them?"

You can follow Jay-Jay & Flynny on Instagram or Facebook, and tune in to our regular show from 3pm weekdays on More FM.