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What is the difference between resettling and self-settling?

Chris Minogue

Chris Minogue

Chris is Australia's leading Mothercraft Nurse, with over 35 years experience working in both public and private hospitals. Chris has worked with thousands of families globally, to support them through all aspects of parenting – from newborn through to toddler years. Chris also specialises in twins, surrogacy and travel, and has worked with some of the biggest...
Created on Oct 22, 2023 · 3 mins read
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There are usually a lot of questions around the difference between resettling and self-settling methods. A lot of people will claim that it is unnatural and inhumane to leave your baby to cry, but this is often a misunderstanding with the expectations or interpretation of the techniques.

Developmentally, your little one will start waking more easily and will need your help during this time to support them in going back to sleep.

In order to ensure your little one is able to be resettled and hasn’t woken out of hunger, it is a good idea to note their timings during the day. If it has been 3 hours since their last feed and they have woken, chances are they are hungry!

But if they have been fed and have simply woken up after 45 minutes during their morning, afternoon or overnight sleep, then chances are they just need your help to fall back asleep. Check out your Daily Rhythms in app for a guide on what your typical day may look like based on their developmental needs.


This technique is where you go in and gently help your baby go back to sleep. This can be done by ‘patting and shushing’ or rocking them gently where you find them.

It is important to avoid picking them up, as they will think that it is awake time. Picking up, rocking or feeding to sleep can also lead to more frequent waking at night.


This is where you allow your baby to cry for a few minutes before going in to give comfort by ‘patting and shushing’ or rocking them gently where you find them in their cot. Once they are calm, you leave the room for another short period.

Once they start crying again, repeat the above steps so that they have a chance to resettle on their own, whilst always going in to reassure them again until they fall back asleep. It will take a few days of being consistent for you to see any results, but over time, your little one will develop the ability to self-settle.

You don’t need to feel like a neglectful parent if your little one cries for a few moments at a time. Babies do cry – that’s the way that they communicate! By using the above technique, you will always be there to go back in after a few minutes and to reassure them until they have developed the ability to do so on their own.

Please note: We don’t at any time suggest leaving your baby to scream or ‘cry it out’ for long periods of time – this is not what either of the above techniques suggests nor a method that we support.

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