If your baby is up all night and is napping inconsistently, you might be starting to wonder if there’s any way to fix these sleep problems. Well, good news- there is! You can help your baby sleep through the night and take longer naps by sleep training (also known as sleep coaching). But what is sleep training? When (and, more importantly, HOW) should you do it? We have answers!
Baby Sleep Training: What, When, How?
- Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby how to fall asleep without help from you. Sleep training can help your baby lengthen naps and sleep through the night.
- You can begin “formal” sleep training when your baby is 4-6 months old.
- There are a variety of sleep training methods you can try; some involve crying, while others are low-cry or no-cry.
Baby Sleep Training: What Is It?
Sleep training (also called sleep coaching) involves teaching your baby how to fall asleep without help from you. When you help your baby fall asleep at bedtime, or fall back to sleep after waking at night, your baby comes to associate the things you do with sleep – and he forms sleep associations. Sleep associations are not necessarily bad; for instance, a pacifier or a lovey can be a really useful sleep association. But any sleep associations that involve you (for example, nursing to sleep, or being rocked to sleep) may be difficult for you to sustain long-term, and they will likely prolong your baby’s nighttime waking and short naps. However, if your baby knows how to fall asleep without your help, then he can fall back to sleep when he wakes at night, or wakes too early from a nap – and this is a big step towards sleeping through the night!
Want to learn more about sleep training? In our Members Area, we have more than 60 separate resources designed to help you learn all you can about sleep training, including our wildly popular e-book, The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. This e-book offers a basic overview of sleep training as well as tips on creating and implementing your own sleep coaching plan. We also offer a series of recorded seminars (featuring Nicole Johnson) designed to give you the information you need to sleep coach successfully.
Baby Sleep Training: When Should You Try It?
Here’s the good news: you can start gently sleep coaching your baby when she’s 8-10 weeks old! The gentle sleep training techniques we use with clients are gentle enough to accommodate a newborn’s or a very young baby’s needs, but they can also be incredibly effective. While you obviously can’t expect a baby this age to sleep through the night, starting gentle sleep coaching at 8-10 weeks can lay a great foundation for future healthy sleep habits. Of course, you can always choose to sleep train later, when your baby is older; just be sure you’re choosing an ideal sleep training window of time. And remember, age isn’t the only factor you’ll need to consider when deciding if it’s time to start sleep training; see this sleep training checklist to determine if you and your baby are ready to start sleep coaching.
Wondering if it’s time to get started with sleep training your baby? One easy way to begin (or to get your baby ready for sleep training if she’s still too young to officially start) is to establish a consistent baby sleep and feeding schedule. We even offer a custom baby schedule-maker designed to help you establish an appropriate nap schedule based on your baby’s age and usual morning wake-up time!
Baby Sleep Training: How To Sleep Train?
We’ve literally written the book (numerous books, actually!) on how to sleep train, and we offer a wide array of sleep consulting services designed to support parents through the sleep training process…so this is not a question we can fully answer in a blog post. That said, we can offer an overview of sleep training basics. First, an easy way to start sleep training is to develop a consistent bedtime and naptime routine. You’ll also want to establish your sleep training plan and choose a sleep training method. There are many ways to sleep train, and while people often assume that sleep training equals lots of crying, this isn’t the case; in fact, we often recommend gentle, low-cry or no-cry sleep training solutions to our families. No matter which method you use, however, the key to successful sleep training is consistency.
Think you might be ready to sleep train, but not sure how to get started? Our popular free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, can help you do just that! Download now, and you can start sleep coaching as early as your baby’s next nap. For additional sleep training help, check out the resources below:
- 5 Things To Do BEFORE Sleep Training
- Gentle Sleep Training Explained + 5 Strategies
- 11 Cry-It-Out Do’s and Don’ts (Plus How Your Baby’s Temperament Affects Sleep Training)
- How To Create A Sleep Training Plan (a members-only resource)
Baby Sleep Training: Get Started Now!
Sleep training can be tough; that’s why we’re here to help! We offer an array of do-it-(mostly) yourself resources to support you if you decide you’re ready to undertake sleep training. Or, if you’d rather have expert support during your sleep coaching journey, you can opt to work with one of our professional sleep consultants, who will guide you every step of the way!
Baby sleep training isn’t always easy, so we’d like to hear from you! Share your baby sleep training tips, stories, and questions below.