Babies are Biologically Incapable of Self-Soothing

When my baby was nine months old, a health professional told me that I was “doing her a disservice” by not “teaching her to self-soothe.”

Let’s be real for a moment, babies are INCAPABLE of self-soothing. Their brains literally have not matured enough to execute that skillset yet. (Hello, underdeveloped neocortex!) Trying to teach a baby to self-soothe (to emotionally self-regulate, to calmly recover from stress) is like trying to teach a baby to ride a bike.

Futile. And, honestly? Dangerous.

The methods these “experts” spout for “teaching“ infants to self-soothe are essentially variations of leaving a baby to cry. A baby left to cry is not learning a valuable life lesson in soothing herself. She may well give up and stop crying out, but this is an in-built survival skill (to save energy) and an act of self preservation - it is NOT self-soothing.

Self-soothing isn’t a skill to be taught. It’s a developmental stage that develops naturally, with time.

And do you know how it develops? With CO-SOOTHING!

Well-developed self-soothing comes as a direct result of co-regulating with a loving and secure caregiver. That is, the more we hold and love our babies, the more they learn to hold and love themselves. The more attuned we are to our little ones, the more attuned they grow with themselves. The more we support and calm them, the more they learn to support and calm themselves.

That instinct you have to scoop up your baby, hold her close and nurse her to sleep? It’s there for a reason. Listen to it, mama.

Need a little naptime support, mama? Go ahead and grab yourself a copy of Nap So Simple, your guide for taking the stress right out of naptimes.