sleep strategy
15 September, 2023

Camping Out: Baby and Child Sleep Strategy

Baby and Child Sleep Strategy

The term “camping out sleep strategy” covers the techniques you can use to start getting your baby into slightly older baby sleep strategy and approaches. It’s typically tried out after about 6 months or so.

Early sleep patterns

Every parent will develop their own method of getting their young baby off to sleep. Quite often, little is required other than feeding and burping, followed up by your baby going out cold in your arms. They can then be put down into their cot – though of course, with some babies it’s rarely that simple!

However, at some stage, usually around the 6-month mark, you might wish to start looking at alternative approaches to provide both you and your baby with a little more independence. That can also be important if you have twins, where rocking to sleep in your arms might not be practical with two babies, even with some help.

Giving your baby confidence

Many babies find the idea of being put down to sleep before they’ve actually dozed off to be alarming. For some, it will be a big and not welcome change from what they’ve experienced beforehand. They may experience anxiety and stress.

Camping out is about helping them to adjust. It involves a few very basic ideas:

  • your baby is put down into their familiar cot, even though they may be awake;
  • demonstrating to them by physical contact and voice, that you’re still there close alongside – even though not directly holding them;
  • not withdrawing until they’re reassured and have dozed off.

This is often the first step of what might be the long process of getting your baby independent in older childhood when they’re put to bed.


There is no rulebook here! Each family and baby will find their own methods but it might be worth starting with:

move a chair alongside the baby’s cot or perhaps place the cot next to your bed;

  • put your baby down;
  • pat your baby gently, rub their arm or leg or otherwise find physical ways of maintaining reassuring contact;
  • speak to them in a slow, low and very calm voice;
  • if all goes well, they’ll soon drift off;
  • be prepared to be flexible but remember, if they learn that by ‘grizzling’ you’ll pick them up and go back to the old method, then they’ll be more likely to resist your efforts;
  • avoid making eye contact or drifting into playing games with them like ‘peek-a-boo’. That will just wake them up.

Over the coming days and weeks, you can slowly but surely start to increase the distance between your chair or bed and the baby’s cot. You can also try to reduce the amount of physical contact even though you’re still there. Of course, most parents will want to maintain a degree of physical reassurance even when the baby is much older. How much and when will be a matter of personal choice.

Eventually, you should find that your baby is drifting off nicely to sleep once they’re put down and without you needing to stay with them for extended periods of time. Do remember though, patience will be required. This transition won’t happen overnight.

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