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Use the Shush Pat Method to Help your Newborn Sleep

Learn how to use the Shush Pat method from Tracy Hogg to help settle your newborn and get your 0 to 3 month old baby to sleep.

mom holding baby and doing shush pat

It can be so challenging to get a newborn baby to sleep. When babies are first born, they’re very tired and fall asleep easily. But around 6 weeks or so, they start to wakeup and that’s usually when sleep challenges and exhaustion for new parents really start to kick in.

Many parents default to feeding or rocking to sleep, thinking it’s the only way to get their baby to fall asleep.

The problem with setting up feeding or rocking to sleep as the default way to get your baby to sleep is that it soon becomes the only way your baby is able to fall asleep.

We all wake up several times throughout the night, but when we feel our familiar bed, pillow, and bedroom, we are able to quickly and seamlessly put ourselves back to sleep.

When a baby is fed to sleep and falls asleep in their mom’s arms and then wakes up later in their crib without a breast in their mouth, it can be really difficult for them to put themselves back to sleep. This is typically why many families struggle with the 4 month sleep regression.

I was incredibly nervous about setting up bad sleep habits when I had my daughter. I read all about eat play sleep from Babywise, but wasn’t sure what to do when my baby struggled to actually fall asleep.

I tried to avoid sleep props when possible and really didn’t want to have to later learn how to stop feeding to sleep or break the habit co-sleeping.

One technique we did use frequently at bedtime was the Shush Pat Method. The Shush Pat Method was developed by Tracy Hogg, author of The Baby Whisperer and can help the tiniest of babies fall asleep in the crib or bassinet with a little bit of help from mom, dad, or another caregiver.

mom looking at baby

How Do You Do Shush Pat?

Doing the Shush Pat Method is simple. While your baby is laying in the crib you pat the center of his back while simultaneously whispering shh shh shh in his ear. The patting is firm and in a steady rhythmic motion, like the tick tock sounds of a clock.

As your baby starts to calm down, you continue to Shush Pat until their body relaxes and breathing slows down. It can take up to 20 minutes of consistently doing the Shush Pat to help soothe your baby to sleep.

If doing the Shush Pat Method while your baby is laying in the crib doesn’t help calm them, you can do the same motion and sound while you hold your baby over your shoulder.

Hogg stresses not to stop doing the Shush Pat prematurely. It’s better to commit to doing it until your baby is in a deep sleep, than to stop short and have to start the cycle completely over again with a fussy baby.

You can do the Shush Pat initially to help your baby fall asleep for a nap or bedtime as well as in the middle of the nap if your baby wakes early. Young babies are notorious for only napping 30 minutes or so, and the Shush Pat may help extend naps in babies under 3 months old.

mom putting baby in bassinet

Does the Shush Pat Method Work?

The Shush Pat Method can be very effective in helping soothe younger babies to sleep, particularly ages 0 through 3 months.

The idea behind the Shush Pat Method is that babies this young are not able to hold more than two thoughts at once. So if your baby is being patted and shushed, he can’t also continue to cry as he focuses on the other two actions.

In my Newborn Sleep Program, I teach the Shush Pat as part of the overall soothing ladder. Newborn sleep can be tricky, but using a combination of soothing methods, coupled with newborn wake windows and a conducive sleep environment can be key on how to get baby to fall asleep on their own.

Once babies reach about 4 months old, the Shush Pat Method becomes less effective. At this age, Hogg recommends moving to the Pick up Put down Method to help your baby get to sleep.

Once a baby reaches 4 months of age, you could also choose one of the common sleep training methods to help teach your baby independent sleep.

Is Shush Pat Method Sleep Training?

I don’t consider the Shush Pat a sleep training method. Sleep training is an approach to teaching your baby independent sleep and is typically for babies 4 months and up.

The Shush Pat is more of a soothing approach you can use to help your very young baby learn how to fall asleep in their crib or bassinet with a little bit of assistance for you. I teach the Shush Pat as one of the soothing methods to use to help your newborn fall asleep in my Newborn Sleep Program.

dad doing shush pat with baby

Why Is Shush Pat Not A Prop?

I remember asking this question as a new mom and being so worried about setting up any kind of sleep props.

Technically, the Shush Pat Method is a sleep prop, but it’s one of the easier sleep props to break as your baby gets older.

Here’s the thing, newborn sleep can be really tricky to tackle. Sometimes our tiny babies need a little help getting to sleep. The Shush Pat allows you to help soothe your baby to sleep, while allowing them to fall asleep in their crib or bassinet.

The beauty of this is that when they wake up after one sleep cycle, they will be in the same environment that they fell asleep in. This will make it easier for them to fall back asleep and is how the Shush Pat is a different kind of sleep prop than nursing or rocking to sleep.

mom holding and patting baby

When do Babies Learn to Fall Asleep on their Own?

When babies can fall asleep on their own really depends. Newborn babies are fully capable of putting themselves to sleep if you’re working hard to avoid an overtired baby, focus on full feeds, and watching their sleep cues.

Sometimes babies need a little help getting to sleep and that’s where the Shush Pat and other soothing methods can be really effective.

The problem often becomes when parents default to feeding or rocking to sleep. Those habits can be trickier to break and actually impede your baby’s ability to fall asleep. You’ll have to work harder to learn and implement how to stop nursing to sleep or rocking to sleep to teach your baby independent sleep habits.

Have you used the Shush Pat Method to help get your baby to sleep? Let me know in the comments and help other parents start using this technique!

Amy Motroni
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