Sleep Training Your Baby
November 21, 2021Your new bundle of joy might be getting 16 to 18 hours of sleep each day – but not overnight, when you need it most. If you find yourself exhausted day after day and ready for a good night’s sleep, it might be time to sleep train baby. Sleep training a new baby is traditionally not an easy undertaking. Here we share some insights on sleep training, timing, and techniques to help you and baby get more rest.
What is Sleep Training
Simply put, sleep training is teaching babies how to fall asleep on their own. It’s a natural process of getting babies to understand that they can put themselves to sleep. If babies need intervention to fall back asleep each time they cry, it’s a frustrating cycle for them – and new parents. Learning how to self-soothe is an important developmental skill for babies.
The Right Time to Train
So when is the right time to sleep train a baby? Experts recommend you begin sleep training when your baby is at least four months old. This is the typical age when babies begin a regular pattern of staying awake during the day and sleeping during the night. Talk with your pediatrician to discuss when your baby might be ready to sleep train.
There is no one sleep training technique that works for every baby. Many parents combine methods. It comes down to finding the approach that your baby responds to the best. Here are some common sleep training techniques.1
Cry it Out (CIO)
One of the most well-known techniques, CIO, is the process of putting your baby to bed while they are tired but still awake. They may cry while learning the process, but it’s OK to allow them to cry in their crib. Some parents find this process frustrating and decide to combine it with the bedtime fading method, which we’ll discuss below.
Otherwise known as Check and Console, this method includes checking on your baby at timed intervals. When your baby is tired but still awake, put them in the crib and come back in three minutes, then five, then 10, and so on. The goal is to increase the length of the intervals each night. It’s OK to softly speak to your baby when you come in the room each time, but don’t pick your baby up.
Pick Up Put Down
It’s hard not to want to pick up your little bundle of joy when they’re fussy, so this method allows you to do that, but just briefly. After putting your baby in the crib, you can pick them up briefly to comfort them, then put them back down as soon as they are settled. Some parents find success by combining this with the Ferber Method.
The Chair Method
When your baby is tired, put them in the crib, then sit next to them in a chair. When they fall asleep, quietly leave the room. If they cry, go back, and sit next to them. The point is to move the chair further away from the crib each night until the chair is no longer in the nursery.
Maybe you want to put your baby down at 7 p.m., but they cry for 30 minutes in the crib before falling asleep. It’s a good bet that 7:30 p.m. is probably more in sync with their natural circadian rhythm. With the bedtime fading technique, you start baby’s bedtime at the natural time they are sleepy, and then gradually move bedtime up in 15-minute increments until you’ve transitioned to the desired bedtime.
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