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  • Natalie Graham

Habit Stacking



This is a fantastic option for when you want to make a change to the way your little one settles to sleep. As the name suggests, rather than remove something that is working, you layer on more sustainable cues (eg patting, shhhing, singing, humming or cuddling) on top of the cue that works.


It’s about introducing new ways to comfort your baby to sleep so that you can very slowly start to phase out the cue that is becoming unsustainable.


Let's take feeding to sleep as an example: (caveat: there is absolutely no reason why you can’t continue feeding your little one to sleep if you want to! It’s normal, healthy and can be the easiest way to help baby to sleep)

  • Over the next few days, start adding more things at the same time, eg pat their bottom, rub their back, shush or sing softly .....or a combination of a few of these.

  • Once you've introduced these new sleep associations and baby has become attached to them (3-4 wks) you can very gently stop/reduce that one thing (ie the feed) and use the new associations instead.

  • And yes, you have new associations to sleep but these can easily be used over the cot side and reduced/removed from there.


Introduce these new habits during your daytime feed to sleep and (when you have the energy and enthusiasm) during night feeds too.

Sometimes they might be reassured and settle (if perhaps they were just seeking some comfort to help them into their next sleep cycle), sometimes they might make it clear that it's a feed they want (maybe they are hungry, thirsty, or in pain, in which case a pat on the bum and a shhhh is really not going to meet their need!)

It can be trial and error. Sometimes the baby will go for it, sometimes not. You might find that if you wait another few weeks, they'll respond differently.

This approach takes time and commitment but it’s super gentle and can be a lovely way to guide your little one to sleep in a way that is more sustainable in the long run.

I’d love to know if you’ve tried habit stacking - pop me a message and let me know .