When is the best age to sleep train your baby?
As parents, we always want sleep training to go as well as possible, right from the start.
That’s why we:
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 may 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 a bit harder).
What are these ‘ideal sleep training windows’? We’re glad you asked!
Your Baby’s Ideal Sleep Training Windows
You can sleep train your baby (or toddler!) any time, of course. And, it’s never too late! But it may be a bit easier if you do it during one of these windows:
The 4-7 month window
This is 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. For babies younger than this, our e-book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep outlines newborn-friendly sleep coaching strategies for your newborn, including sample sleep-inducing routines. We also offer special newborn-focused Personalized Sleep Plans® to guide your family to better sleep in a gentle, safe way.
The 11-16 month window
This isn’t as ideal of a time to sleep train as the 4-7 month window, but if you skip that one, this is the next one to try (if you can wait that long!). Why?
Because your baby is past the sleep regression that happens at 8/9/10 months, and their sleep patterns should be back to normal. (Although if your baby has never been a great sleeper, her “normal” sleep patterns may be fairly chaotic! 🙂 Remember, it’s best to sleep train when things are as “normal” as possible, so waiting until a sleep regression has passed can be a good idea. Just make sure your toddler’s schedule is age-appropriate, first, as that can do wonders!
Less Ideal Times For Sleep Training
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 willfulness 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!)”