Q: We find it hard to get into any kind of a routine as we have our baby cared for by his two grandmothers 2 days a week who love to rock him to sleep and leave him napping on their lap? Is this the reason he is not self settling for us?

Firstly how wonderful to have two grandmothers caring for your baby every week and no doubt showering him with love and cuddles! I can imagine that all they want to do is hold him forever and savour every moment when they are together!

I am not sure what age your baby is but in my experience consistency is a key factor in establishing a workable routine for you and baby and guiding/supporting him to gain the skills and confidence to settle himself. So I would encourage you to have a chat to both grandmothers and explain how important it is that they try to implement at least a similar sleep routine so there are no mixed messages. You could explain that if there is consistency in his routine then he will still be a happy, contented baby for everyone. He will be less likely to become overtired and grumpy and maybe even a bit confused from one day to the next. This is especially important at the end of the day for a less resistant and relaxed bedtime routine which will free up some quality time to spend with your partner!

So a good guideline to follow is the “feed, play, sleep” rhythm which works well with most babies from about 6 weeks to around six months (and remembering any plan requires a degree of flexibility). So when he wakes from his day sleep (hopefully 2 cycles) he should be offered the breast or bottle generally within 15 minutes or so, after a nappy change and cuddles/chat. Then some “play” or awake time, with suitable stimulus and there are guidelines for this relevant to their age. But soon enough you will be able to read the “tired” signs and they can vary with each baby. There could be one or more cues from yawning and rubbing his eyes to jerky movements with their arms and legs, staring into space or just getting grizzly and cross….! And try to keep the same “wind down” routine for each bedtime, so eventually your baby will understand your cues in preparation for sleep and resist less and less.

I understand that when your baby is being cared for by his grandmothers that the environment changes for him. But if the bedtime routine is reasonable consistent (for example swaddling, blinds/curtains dimmed, quietly talking/ cuddles/singing to soothe him, then he should start to improve his ability to self soothe.

I hope this advice has helped you, I know this chat with your family won’t be an easy one! It is important though for everyone who loves and cares for your baby, that some simple guidelines be implemented. Then everyone will be enjoying your new arrival including you and your partner!