The ability to soothe is one part of a baby’s innate personality, or temperament, and can vary greatly from one child to another. Some babies are born with good self-soothing skills and some just need practice and may always need a little more support from their caretakers even into their school-age years. Just like any skill, practice can make a difference. Children who are never given the opportunity to sort through their feelings on their own will never learn to soothe themselves because there is no need for the skill. During infancy, the most common self-soothing techniques are sucking on a thumb or pacifier and distraction (watching a mobile or listening to music, for example), so making sure a baby can get to his or her hands and has something to watch or listen to will encourage self-soothing. As your baby develops language skills (starting around 18 months), talking to them about their feelings and what they can do to calm down can also encourage self-soothing.
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