Patting settling steps
Rhythmic, gentle patting can help settle young babies into sleep. Here’s how to do it:
- Face your baby away from you, lying on his side.
- Place your hand gently on your baby’s shoulder.
- Cup your other hand and pat your baby gently and slowly on the bottom or thigh.
- Make the patting as rhythmic as possible – for example, about the same rate as your heartbeat.
- Sing a quiet, soothing song to help you find your rhythm. Your baby won’t mind if you’re out of tune or don’t know the words! If you think that your singing might disturb your baby, sing or count in your head to help keep your patting steady. Or you could try saying ‘shhh’ on each pat.
Sometimes two hands are better than one. Here’s how to do double-patting:
- Keep patting your baby’s bottom or thigh and then start patting baby’s shoulder with your other hand.
- Alternate the pats in a rhythmic way.
- As your baby starts to settle and relax, slow down your hand movements. Once your baby is quiet, stop patting but leave your hands on your baby for a few more seconds.
You could try patting the mattress beside your baby, or even jiggling the cot slightly. Experiment and see what works for your baby.
If your baby is crying, you can still try patting. If she’s very upset, it’s OK to stop and give her a cuddle.
If nothing seems to be working, and you start to feel angry or distressed, it’s best to leave your baby in the cot. Walk away and take a moment to calm yourself. It won’t hurt your baby to cry for a short time.