Sleep and your child: zero to six years

Settling babies

Young babies often give very small signals for what they need.

Get to know your baby’s signals so you can work out the best way to respond - eg: is their cry just a settling ‘grizzle’, or is it a ‘real’ cry that needs you to gently pat and rock them? 

If your baby is crying and very distressed, they need you to be with them and comfort them.

Responding to babies in this way is called responsive settling.

It’s best to use this approach rather than respond to babies on the basis of time, as in a controlled crying approach.

Over time, you can help your baby learn to go to sleep by themselves:

  • put your baby down when they are awake and calm, or only slightly ‘grizzly’
  • give them some gentle comfort
  • slowly withdraw.

Responding to your baby when they cry helps them to feel safe and secure. It also helps to build their brain development and a close bond with you.

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Last updated: 11 March 2016

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