When To 'Shush-Pat':
  • Done in babies under 6 months of age and before P.U./P.D. in babies over 3 months of age. *** Traci Hogg suggested you do it in babies under 6 months because she felt it was disruptive and stimulating for many babies over this age. But if it works for your baby and she is over 6 months of age then certainly feel free to keep doing it. Also, most people suggest attempting shush-pat (or some form of this) before doing p.u./p.d. with your baby, even if she is over 3 months of age. See the p.u./p.d. post for more information on this.
  • To calm baby and help him fall asleep after doing the Baby Whisperer's "Four S" ritual.
  • To help drop/extend a night feed.

How To 'Shush-Pat' Before Sleep Times:
If after doing the "Four S" ritual baby is fussy or crying when placed in his crib, start to make shh sounds and pat him firmly in the center of the back with a steady rhythm. Since most babies do not sleep on their stomach, you may need to prop baby onto his side to do the shush-pat correctly. The Baby Whisperer says to continue to do the shush pat for 7-10 minutes after baby has calmed down. Once that happens, you can slow down your patting rhythm and eventually stop the shh sound. Once you have stopped the shush-pat step back from the crib where baby can't see you and watch him for a few minutes to see if he is able to fall into a deep sleep without any further help. If he wakes up and cries, continue the shush-pat method once again. Be sure to look at the Helpful Tips section below.

How To 'Shush Pat' When Baby Wakes But Should Be Sleeping
Do the shush-pat as described above, but do not include the "Four S" wind down ritual beforehand.

Helpful Tips
  • If baby doesn't settle easily with the shush-pat in his crib or if he starts crying, hold him over your shoulder and do it. When you sense that baby is calming down (his breathing is getting deeper and his body is relaxing) lay him back down and continue the shush-pat.
  • Do not stop the shush-pat too soon. This often backfires. Instead of staying with baby a few more minutes you end up having to start the routine all over again which The Baby Whisperer states takes an average of 20 minutes to do. With some babies that have a hard time dropping into deep sleep, you may need to do the shush-pat until you see baby drop into a deep sleep which will be longer than the suggested 7-10 minutes.
  • When you pat, be sure to pat in the center of the back not down lower over the kidney's.
  • The shh should be an elongated, loud sound and should go past his ear not into his ear since this may cause ear drum damage.
  • You can also place a comforting hand on your baby's chest as you are patting your baby's back.
  • Use from birth to six months. After this time you can lay your hand on your child's back and speak comforting words instead since shushing and patting can be very disruptive with older babies.

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  1. I have started to try this and it doesn't seem to be working. Am I doing something wrong? I do the 4 S's at when laying him down and then usually he starts to cry so I pick him up and shush pat but it seems like it takes forever for him to relax and then once he does and I lay him down he wakes back up again. It's almost like I am a sleep prop and that when patting him I'm just making it harder for him to fall asleep.

  2. I wouldn't say you are doing anything wrong. It is going to take a lot of time and persistence and every baby is going to react differently to it. I often hear that it is a lot harder to do if not started from birth. This doesn't mean impossible though, it will just time more time and patience. The baby whisperer says it will work for all babies, but honestly I have my doubts about this. Some babies seem to get so much more upset when trying to go to sleep with mom's interference. Before you decide this is the case, make sure you faithfully try it out for several days though. Hopefully you will start to see a trend where it takes less time each day to calm baby. Also, I do think this technique can be a bit of a sleep prop which is why the baby whisperer suggests in one of her books to stop the shushing and patting once baby calms rather than keep going until baby falls completely asleep. I guess you could try doing it until baby falls asleep now and then later try to wean from it by stopping the shushing and patting earlier every few days. Also, make sure baby is falling asleep in his crib not in your arms. Once he calms in your arms it is time to transfer to the crib and try the shush-pat from there...even if that means you will probably have to pick him up in a minute. The goal is to get him used to sleeping in his bed not your arms.

  3. I have an 18mnth old. Sometimes when I put him to bed either asleep or dozing he will will call out daddy as I leave the room. I do not talk to him I just place my hand on him or sometimes slowly pat him. As soon as he has drifted off to sleep I leave the room. If he sleeps immediately then I don't touch him at all. My wife thinks what I am doing is wrong and I shold ignore him even if he cries and wait until he falls asleep as this is what she does!! Can you offer any advise please?

  4. Anonymous-

    Generally it is a good idea for everyone to do the same routine when putting your child to bed. This helps your child know what to expect and usually results in better sleep habits. This means you need to have a little chat with your wife and decide what you will both do. Obviously since you prefer doing something different this will be a bit of a heated debate but if you both calmly share your concerns/ideas and are willing to compromise then you should be able to come up with a plan.

    It's possible if your child is sleeping well when you put him to bed and when your wife does even though you do things differently that you don't need to change things. There's no need to change things if everything is going well :) But if your son is not sleeping as well after you put him to bed or he is having resistance going to sleep for naps/at night and is having short naps/night time awakenings then you may need to work on changing things around.

    Generally if you use your wife's methods of putting your son to sleep he will cry less over time, but since the two of you are doing things differently he may end up crying more over time because in his mind if he keeps crying daddy will come back in to comfort him. You can see how having two different ways you do things could make things harder for your son. Since your son is 18 months old having him cry to sleep if he isn't use to going to sleep on his own is going to be a bit tougher than with a younger child and he is going to give you a lot more resistance. If he is used to going to sleep on his own and usually only cries a couple minutes then the time he cries should quickly diminish if there isn't any interference. You could do th ferber techniques I have described on this blog too if he is crying for longer periods of time but they will take longer to work.

    I personally think a good goal of putting your child to sleep at any age would be to place your child in his crib after doing a short sleep time routine, walk out of the room and then have your child go to sleep on his own. When you go in and hold your hand on your child's back or pat him to sleep he is using your presence as a sleep prop. If you were the only one putting your son to sleep and you didn't mind doing this for several more years (yes, it can take that long) and you don't have other sleep issues bc of this (it can lead to a child waking at each sleep transition and needing you to help him go back to sleep) then I would say it is fine to keep doing this. But since your wife is involved in the picture and she doesn't sound like she wants to do this then you probably should work towards the goal of having your child fall asleep on his own. I mentioned the crying approach above that your wife wants to do, but there are many other approaches you can do. For example, you could keep doing what you are doing and then slowly decrease the time you stay in the room with your son every few days. You could do P.U./P.D. (look at my index). Whatever you do, remember to keep attention to the minimum. Children this age thrive on your attention and know just what to do to get it. They are great manipulators. I don't mean this in a bad way. They simply know what they want and are good at figuring out how to get mom and dad to do it.

    Sorry for a book length response, there were just several issues to address. Let me know if you have more questions. Good luck!

  5. Hi Rachel,
    Thanks so much for this blog - where do you get the time? I'm not sure but I certainly do appreciate that you found it. I would love your advice if you have any more time.
    My son is 8weeks and I had been letting him fall asleep and even sleep on me in order to get "enough" sleep during the day. I don't have night sleep problems (yet!) and he sleeps about 9-11 hours overnight. I am now realizing this is not such a good idea and am trying to wean is both off it...! If, after shush-pat he is calm but not asleep, do I continue or leave the room? And do I only return if he is crying or should I be actively, somehow, encouraging him to sleep?


  6. Kirstie,
    In one of the baby whisperer books she says to do the shush-pat until baby is fast asleep, in another she says to do it until he is sleepy, but not asleep. The second option is probably best bc I have heard of quite a few people that have had problems with the shush-pat being a sleep prop. The problem with doing it until he is sleepy but not alseep is that he might jolt awake again and then you have to start the process all over again and it might take even longer since he'll be more overtired. If you do end up having to shush/pat until he falls asleep to get him to stay asleep then you could try to wean him off of this as he gets a bit older and isn't so prone to overtired so easily.

    I would probably stay in the room after you shush-pat for a short time to see if he is going to need more assistance. then you can rush in to help him out before he gets too worked up and wide awake. You probably want to stay out of his view though. At the same time, it is a good idea to give baby the chance to fall asleep on his own without you rushing in, so I would see if having him fuss for a short time (assuming he does this instead of going into a big cry) will be enough for him to go asleep on his own without your help.

    If you are not doing it already, I recommend doing her four s routine too. There's a link for it near the beginning of the post. Good luck! I'm so glad he is sleeping well at night for you! That is always a plus!

  7. Thanks Rachel, I really appreciate your quick reply!
    I didn't realize I was doing the 4s until I read your blog, so yes I am doing it. Mainly at night though, not always for the day sleeps because I would like him to sleep in his pram again so I can leave the house!
    Thanks again

  8. Kirstie,
    You are welcome. Once again, good luck!

  9. Hi Rachel,

    I stumble upon your blog and would appreciate if you could shed some thoughts on the shush pat method.

    My son is now 4 mths old, and I am trying to teach him to sleep on his own using the shush pat method from the BW book.

    I do the 4 s ritual except for the swaddling part - I stopped swaddling my son since he was 2.5 mths.

    Once, I sit with him, he is relax and calm, I put him in his crib. The minute I put him there, he starts to cry.
    So, I put him over my shoulder and pat/shh him until he was calm - stage 1 - yawn, still continue to pat/shh over my shoulder , stage 2 - long stare , still continue to pat/shh over my shoulder, stage 3- he started to nod off , eyes closed, so I put him down in the cot and pat/shh... as I put him down, he started to cry - but I continued to put him down and continued to pat/shh ... but once he is down, he will keep crying, so than I will pick him up again and start the whole process again. Am I doing something wrong? I feel that I am being a human prop to my son. Its very tiring because he is a BIG boy - 8.3kg at 4 mths!!!

    Any comments/advice would be appreciated ?

  10. Knim,
    When he starts to cry in the crib try the shush pat for a moment to calm him before picking him up and doing p.u/pd. Look over the pu/pd post. It sounds like you are holding him too long. You need to give him more of a chance to put himself to sleep. You are right, you are likely helping too much at this age and turning into a prop. That is a possible iss ue with some of the baby whisperer's methods so you have to be careful to decrease how much you help over time or you might (depends on the child) have a child that depends upon you to fall asleep.

    Good luck. Rachel

  11. Hello,
    I am looking for some clarification on the shush pat method. I don't really have an issue getting my 11 week old to sleep, it is keeping him asleep that is the issue. He wakes from naps ever 20 - 30 minutes and in the night he wakes up every hour or 2 (not hungry). I have started using the shush pat method - he drifts off to sleep easily and I stay with him - patting and shushing again if he has trouble getting into a deep sleep, about 20 minutes.

    20-30 minutes
    later he is back up so i do it all again. how is this helping him fall asleep / stay asleep? Is my shushing and patting not just a new prop? thanks for your guidance, I don't want to try a CIO method this early, but getting up all night to put him back to sleep is not sustainable.

  12. Naomi,
    Yes, I believe the shush-pat can definitely turn into a prop. I think it is best to try to phase out doing it while baby is getting sleepy so he falls asleep without you actually doing it. But with some babies this won't happen and if you try to do it, it results in a very overtired newborn. Many parents will keep this up until baby is more resilient to overtiredness and stimulation and they can start the pu/pd. I personally do the 4s and my own version of the shush-pat and leave baby. If she gets upset, I go in again and do it again, if it doesn't work I go to the swing so baby doesn't get too overtired. The swing is a prop too of course, but usually the practice before the swing pays off and baby stops needing it. If not, then I would drop the swing when he was not longer a newborn and less likely to get overtired and not respond to sleep training of any sort. I hope that wasn't too confusing.

    Anywho, if he is waking after 20 minutes I would consider that he is overtired or has a gas issue. I always suggest burping before bed at this age. When he does wake, try a firm arm on his tummy to see if that is all he needs. Maybe try going in before he will wake to do this or even the shush-pat to see if you can get him into the habit of sleeping through this transition without fully waking. Do make sure you give him some time to settle to sleep when he wakes. listen for the mantra cry. Make sure he isn't just going through a sleep phase. My bet is that he is overtired and is used to the shush-pat as a prop and is waking often d/t these things. Sorry. I can imagine you must be so tired!!
    good luck!

  13. My son is 13 weeks and for the last 2 weeks or so, and off and on before that, he has been waking up 50-60 minutes into his nap, which is supposed to be 2 hours. He cries and doesn't put himslef back to sleep. If I let him try and put himself back to sleep, and he can't and I go in there, I'll either pat his side and shhh him or pick him up and try burping and patting. It usually doesn't work to put him back to sleep. I'm at a loss as to what to do. We follow Baby Wise and I don't want this so be a habit, and I want him to be able to get past that transition. I can't imagin he is hungry every two hours! He sleeps through the night and has been since 10 weeks. We swaddle still, and just yesterday we started trying to break him of the swaddle. It hasn't mattered wether he is swaddled or not for waking early.
    I have tried CIO and that doesn't work very well either. Today he woke after 30 mins and cried and cried. I went in and tried toget him back down, didn't work, left him to try to go back down again, didn't work, so I got him up and fed him. I am going to put him back down early, usually he is up for an hour or so. It seems like my husband has much better luck at getting him back down again.
    I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm lost, any advice would be wonderful, thank you!

  14. Kelsey,
    What is his normal waketime? It is possible it is too short and he isn't able to to sleep any longer than he is.

    I think it is also possible he may not be able to get himself back to sleep without help at this age. Sometimes you have to help them for a while and then one day they do it themselves, or you attempt later and they can do it themselves. Be sure to check on the short nap post. Also, try not to stress too much. Doing a eat/wake/sleep routine is good, but if you can't get longer naps and can't get him back to sleep, switching up things a bit will not be the end of the world :) Also look at the comments on the short nap post too.

  15. This last Monday he all of a sudden started to sleep through the nap transition! I usually just keep him up for one hour. I started to put him to bed in complete darkness, before I kept a little light on. It was so wonderful! Then today he started to wake up at the one hour mark and cry...I don't know what happened. The only thing I can think of is that his schedule was an hour or so off just lastnight. Do you think his wake time should be longer? Should I do different wake times at different times of the day? Like I said right now I just keep him up an hour. He is now 14 1/2 weeks. Thanks for the advice!

    1. Kelseyms,
      I am just seeing this and answering it for other readers.

      A previous off night can defiantly result in a few rough days for some children.

      I would keep whatever wake time baby seems to need throughout the day, with the morning usually being the shortest and the evening being the longest. At his age he could likely benefit from a longer wake time. Most babies do but you will have to test it out and see.

  16. I may be overthinking...and I'm doing this now it seems to be working very well, but how does this not become a prop?

    1. Leila,
      It can become a prop with some babies. But it is easier to wean from than many other things. Most babies do ok as long as their caregiver only stays as long as necessary and weans over time as baby learns to sleep better on her own.


  17. Hello Rachel,
    I'm so glad to see there is someone out there who has some knowledge of the shush pat since tracy has passed away. I am trying the shush pat on my 9 week old and I realize that in the book, Tracy doesn't say what to do with the wedge/rolled towel that she suggests for use while patting in the crib. I presume it is removed after baby falls asleep - however, today in trying it, she keeps waking when I do this. Even when I try to use my left hand to hold her up to pat with my right hand, she wakes when I try to roll her from the side position to on her back. Can you give me any advice on this?

    1. Dee,
      Ah, this is a tricky subject without a great solution (which is maybe why she didn't mention it in her books :).

      Yes you want to move that towell. I would Try to get her used to goring to sleep more awake so the movement doesn't bother her as much. A tight swaddle might help. My friend sells a snuggleu that might help. She might simply prefer her side too and will need time to get used to sleeping on her back. Try keeping up the shush and maybe begin patting on her tummy during the movement transfe or right before.

      Good luck. Let me know if you find a god solution

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Hi, I am working on extending naps, my daughter is 9 weeks and wakes with the sleep transition. She falls asleep with a little shush pat initially but then wakes up and I've tried shh pat, pu/pd but she can only fall back asleep on me. At night we use the double swaddle and she sleeps from 9-8 with one wake to feed. She can wake up and put herself to sleep no problem.
    I have been swaddling her with her arms out during the day. I want to try to avoid the double swaddle because I feel bad pinning her arms down all the time and she is starting to find her hands to suck on which I hope will be a way to self soothe but right now I think it is stimulating her.
    So my questions are...Should I just swaddle for everything? Is it hard to break later and am I interfering with her ability to learn to self soothe. The other is any suggestion for making it past the sleep transition without me holding her to finish the nap? Her wake times are anywhere from 1hr to 1hr 30 min.

    1. Chelsea,
      Consider keeping a sleep log to see if you can tell if a decreased wake time helps at all. You'll have to decide on the swaddle. It may help her sleep better, but if she is sucking her fingers the Benefits of that (even if it takes a couple weeks) may be more than continuing the swaddle. Breaking the swaddle hasn't been too hard with my kids (bt it still took time) but there s the occasional child that really struggles with it.

      I'd at least see If you can get her to extend the nap not sleeping on you the entire time. Or try a swing etc.


  20. Hi,
    my son is 8 months old. He used to be a great sleeper but things changed after he got a virus for a week. He only sleeps in our bed or he'll wake up like 4-5 times during the nights if we put him in the crib only to go back to sleep holding my hand! Help. What do I do!?

    1. Chumib,
      If you've done any sleep training before go back to that. Look over the top sleep tips in te index for some general sleep tips. Obviously your litte one as te bait of sleeping wth you now and if you want him to sleep in his own bed you'll have to drop this bait and transition him there. Look over the book reviews on sleep for general ethos as well as the sleep training psts to see wat method to transition souds best to you.


  21. Hi! My daughtet is 11 weeks and fiercely fights any method we use to try and get her to sleep. this began about 4 weeks. Before that she had no problem going to sleep day or night, many times on her own. she would wake a couple times at night to eat and sleep 2-3 hours at naps.Now however she doesn't nap longer than about 45 minutes and wakes every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. she gets so tired and cranky by the end of the daY. Recently the only way to get her to sleep any amount of time is to hold heor nurse her.I decided for her 1st nap today to try the 4 s' s and shush pat. it took a couple of tries but she fell asleep! I did have to use the passie to calm her down, however she usually spits it out before falling totally asleep. ( ive decided to wait and tackle that as she gets older). the problem is sh only slept about 45 minutes and resisted all efforts to shush her to sleep I pickedher up and did squats. eventually that and even the passive failed and she kept getting even more tired. so I put her in the swing where she woke up quietly with a dirty diaper and ready to eat again- also after 45 minute of swing napping. I gave you all this info to basically ask what tips you had for the VERY sleep resistant baby?

  22. ! Thanks for this useful blog! My baby is 11 weeks old. I had quite a few problems with breastfeeding in the first weeks but once I got better at it she started quite quickly sleeping from 11ish to anytime from 3onwards (once I woke her at 6.30am as I was worried about her sleeping so long! haha! WOuld never do that now!). I never paid much attention to her naps as she seemed to nap often and I would often take her out in the pushchair and she would always sleep then. However, at about 8 weeks I started reading some books and decided that she should nap in her cot (previously I had let her nap in the pushchair, sling or sometimes in moses basket downstairs.) At the same time I started putting her to bed earlier as previously i had been waiting for my husband to come home so he could bathe her but I noticed she was getting very grumpy in the evenings and it coincided with a week when my husband was due home very late so we had decided that I should bathe her. Obviously with hindsight I can see that these are 2 quite big changes to make to a baby's schedule! Anyway, the result has been that she had stopped napping in the day and although she still sleeps fairly well at night it takes me ages to get her to sleep! Last week I read the Baby Whisperer book and decided to have a go. I can tell she's tired, I take her to her bedroom and cuddle her (I don't swaddle her because she is nearly 3 months now and already sucks her thumb) but she just swirms and makes complaining noises. She never gets to the stage described in the book where she starts to relax! I have tried shushing and patting to calm her but doesn't seem to work. I have tried putting her in her cot when she's still grumbling and doing shushing and patting and that doesn't work. The only time it has worked has been once when she seemed to be rooting when I was cuddling her so I fed her and she got very sleepy quickly and then I was able to shush and pat her to sleep in her cot. Is this bad? I go to a breastfeeding support group and asked the specialist there and she said she fed her children to sleep and that she didn't still do it now they are 15 and 17! haha!
    Something else to note is that my husband can get her to sleep fairly quickly by walking with her. Before I was just grateful when he was home to do this. However, it doesn't work for me so I am worried it's going to cause me lots of problems if it becomes the only way to go to sleep! Another thing is that when she wakes to feed in the night I feed her, burp her and put her in her cot awake but sleepy and she goes to sleep on her own.
    Sorry for long post. Has anyone got any ideas? Part of me thinks I'm being stupid (some days I get quite worked up the routine isnt working and obsessed by it and it has made me stay in more which can also make me feel down.)
    Any comments welcome!

  23. Hi Rachel,

    I've been reading your blog for a few months now and found it hugely beneficial in teaching my 4 mth old to sleep. We had mistakenly started some accidental parenting habits in the early months, but as soon as he turned 4 mths old we moved him onto a 4/4 routine with PU/PD and shush pat to sleep, and this has been going well so far.
    I wanted to ask your advice on how to transition from sitting with him and shush/patting every time he needs to nap or go to bed for the night to a stage where I can put him down to go to sleep on his own. I've tried this recently and he just cries until I go in and shush/pat. I am worried that if we keep shush/patting, it will result in more accidental parenting and cause further issues for us later.
    Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated!
    Thanks again,

  24. My daughter is 6.5 months old. At 5 months she stopped sleeping through the night. Before that she only slept on average 6-7 hrs. She was all over the map on wake times and nap times but I've always tried to keep a 3hr ews and keep bed time at 7. When she stopped sleeping we thought it was due to room transition. Then we thought hungry and finally teething. She cut two teeth at 6months. Last week she bit me hard in the middle of the night twice, it startled both of us, and she would not nurse to sleep for two nights and she has not bitten me since. Still not sleeping after cutting teeth. She was waking every 2-3hrs at night. So we started sleep training two nights ago. It is going well. We went in when she wakes and pat/pressure on her chest and shhhhh. It worked for us. The first night she bed at 6 (normally 7) woke at 9:45 shhhed/pat for 30 min she woke up again (windy out) asleep by 11. Awake at 1 and nursed but down in 20 min (may not have needed to) woke at 4:45 gave a slight cry and whine but self soothed and up at 7:30 (a little early). Second night was simialr but even better and put her to bed at 7.

    I learned a lot recently from your site and baby wise. (yes way behind the curve). I had some clue her naps were short but did not realize this was common. She naps about 45 min, three naps per day. She only stays up for about 2hrs and wants to nap. Some days she's tired and I put her down early. I had to start sleep training because I was her prop, rocking but sometimes nursing. I was getting too tired and she was getting harder to rock. Also she could self sooth for her first two naps (unless she was overtired) but not her last one and she does nurse to sleep but not always and she would not self sooth to bed. We are getting a handle on night time/over night soothing. Thank you for all you've done with this site!!!!

    So we started today to try to extend naps. It is not going well and she is pretty tired and I dont want to undue our nighttime success. So I started wake to sleep. I went in at 30 min and put pressure on her chest and she woke up. I stayed and tried shhhh, tried Pu/pd and CIO. I think I screwed it up with too many approaches. We could not get her back to sleep so we gave up and she nursed and I put her back down early. Second nap I went in at 25 min gave her a nudge and left the room. She woke and both times it seemed like she was trying to self sooth but couldn't so I went in to try to help her. We're still not getting anywhere she won't go back to sleep. On second nap i tried our shhh and pat and a little pi/pd. My husband is having some success now on this second nap. I am worried that now that we've started Pu/pd for naps we will have to do it at night too. (thoughts?) guess I'll find out soon, lol. I guess I don't really know what I am supposed to do with wake to sleep. Will she eventually be able to sooth herself? Should I go In earlier? Any thoughts would be great.