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

mom holding baby and doing shush pat

I was incredibly nervous about setting up “bad” sleep habits when I had my daughter. I read many baby books in preparation but wasn’t sure what to do when she struggled to actually fall asleep.

We 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 successfully was the Shush Pat Method.

Keep reading to learn how the Shush Pat Method can help your baby sleep.

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baby being held by mom and mom patting baby's back

What is the Shush Pat?

The Shush Pat Method is a shushing and patting technique caregivers can do to help soothe baby to sleep.

It was developed by Tracy Hogg, author of The Baby Whisperer. It can help babies fall asleep in the crib or bassinet with a little bit of help from mom, dad, or another caregiver.

How Do You Do the Shush Pat?

Doing the Shush Pat Method is simple.

While your baby is laying in the crib you gently roll baby to their side and 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.

The shh sound is exaggerated and like running water.

As your baby starts to calm down, you continue to Shush Pat until their body relaxes and breathing slows down.

Once your baby is in a deep sleep, you can gently roll them to their back to assume a safe sleep position.

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.

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.

How Long Does it Take for the Shush Pat to Work

It can take up to 20 minutes of consistently doing the Shush Pat to help soothe your baby to sleep.

Hogg stresses not to stop 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.

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.

It’s a great option if it seems like your baby hates the crib or if your baby won’t sleep in their bassinet.

Why the Shush Pat Works

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.

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.

Is It Okay to Pat My Baby to Sleep?

New parents worry about creating “bad habits” for their babies, but it’s normal for newborns to need help getting to sleep.

The Shush Pat is a great option to provide some assistance, without defaulting to feeding to sleep.

Once babies reach about 4 months old, the Shush Pat Method becomes less effective. At that 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.

Learn How to Thrive in the Newborn Stage

Newborn Sleep Survival Guide

Learn how to survive sleep in the newborn stage with the Newborn Sleep Survival Guide. This 33-page PDF walks you through the basics of newborn sleep that you can start on Day one, without any sleep training involved. Learn more here.

Why Is Shush Pat Not A Prop?

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 tiny babies need a little help getting to sleep.

With the Shush Pat, you help soothe baby to sleep, while having them to fall asleep in their crib or bassinet.

The beauty of this is that when they wake up after one sleep cycle, they’re in the same environment that they fell asleep in.

This makes it easier for them to fall back asleep and is how the Shush Pat is a different kind of sleep association than nursing or rocking to sleep.

When do Babies Learn to Fall Asleep on their Own?

When babies can fall asleep on their own really depends.

Newborn babies are capable of putting themselves to sleep if you work on avoiding an overtired baby, focus on full feeds, and watch 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 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!

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