As parents, we always want sleep coaching to go as well as possible, right from the start. That’s why we make sure to wait until our babies are old enough for sleep training (4 months or older), why we carefully select sleep training methods that fit our parenting styles and our babies’ temperaments, why we don’t sleep train during big transitions (like moving) or illnesses, and why we prepare for sleep coaching before we start.
One of the ways to ensure that sleep coaching goes as smoothly as possible is to do it during a window of time in which it will be easier. That’s right — there are times during your baby’s growth and development when she is better prepared for sleep training (and, conversely, times when sleep training may be bit harder).
What are these ‘ideal sleep coaching windows’? We’re glad you asked!
Your Baby’s Ideal Sleep Coaching Windows
You can sleep train your baby (or toddler!) any time, of course. But it may be a bit easier if you do it during one of these windows:
The 4-7 month window
This is the earliest that parents should start any kind of formal sleep training; it’s also the best time to start, for many families (although not all). Why? Because at this point, your baby is past the 4 month sleep regression, so she’s starting to develop more “adult” sleep patterns. Your baby is also much less mobile at this stage than she’ll be in a few more months, and that lack of mobility makes sleep training a bit easier. Finally, because your baby is still quite young at this point, any sleep associations she may have formed won’t have had time to turn into strong habits. That means they’ll be easier to change.
The 11-16 month window
This isn’t as ideal a time to sleep coach as the 4-7 month window, but if you skip that one, this is the next one to try. Why? Because you’re baby is past the sleep regression that happens at 8/9/10 months, and her sleep patterns should be back to normal. (Although if your baby has never been a great sleeper, her “normal” sleep patterns may be fairly crazy!) Remember, it’s best to sleep coach when things are as normal as possible, so waiting until a sleep regression has passed can be a good idea.
Less Ideal Times For Sleep Coaching
In general, it’s best to avoid sleep training during a sleep regression. And, if possible, try to sleep coach before your little one is 18 months old; after 18 months, your toddler’s growing sense of independence and willfullness might make sleep training tougher.
But be careful: don’t let this information paralyze you, or make you put off or give up on sleep training! While sleep training may go a little more smoothly if you do it during one of these two windows, you can sleep train any time. Here’s Nicole’s reminder:
“Although there are more ‘ideal’ times to sleep train than others such as before your baby can pull up and stand at the side of the crib, if you and your family are ready to make big changes, I wouldn’t wait just because of your baby or toddler’s age. Every baby is different and you know your baby best. It may take a bit more time and patience, but it can work! There is always a reason to put off making positive changes in your life whether it’s delaying a diet, because the holidays are near or work is too busy or you put off budgeting because you have too many bills, you can always find a reason to avoid the hard work that sleep training sometimes entails. The first step is the hardest, but I find families are happily surprised when their child adapts to the new routines faster than they anticipated. Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)”
We’ve shared our sleep training tips – now share yours! Questions about sleep training? Ask in the comments section below.
Need sleep training help? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.