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 VIP 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 audio courses (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)
- Will Sleep Training Make Your Baby Inflexible?
- How To Create A Sleep Training Plan (a VIP 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!
6 thoughts on “Baby Sleep Training: What, When, How – Get Started Now!”
My baby is 6.5 months. He had started sleeping well around 5 months, but then around 5.5 started rolling a lot which caused more nightwakings. He’s exclusively breastfed and that’s how I would get him quickly back to sleep. I didn’t mind, but now he’s waking up almost every 2-3 hours again, very tiring. His naps have been really good (3 a day) even with nursing to sleep. So I don’t mind that, but have been considering night sleep training. However we are going away in a few days for the holidays and will be away from home until the new year. We’ll be staying at various family places (traveling from TX to the east coast, then to Ireland, then back to the east coast, then back to TX); none of this seems conducive to sleep training. Does this mean I just will need to suck it up until we’re back? At that point he’ll have just turned 8 months and I feel like these sleep habits will be even more ingrained and difficult to break. Thoughts?
@Beth – Thank you for reading and for sharing. What an adventure you all will be on for the next several weeks – we wish you all safe travels and tons of fun! We understand your anxiety and often deal with this topic in our Helpdesk as we support families through their sleep training journeys. We generally recommend that you focus on sleep training when you can devote 2-3 consistent weeks to it – if you can do that while traveling, great. If not, it may work best to wait until you’re home again. If you’d like to work through this decision with your sleep consultant, consider connecting one-on-one with one of our lovely ladies. You can read all about them here:https://www.babysleepsite.com/about Hang in there, Beth!
@Neosha, thanks for your reply. Basically we’re traveling a lot the next month, but I need to do something as he’s starting to wake up almost every hour. I won’t be able to cope for a month. I’ve decided on my method and want to stick with it. If I’m very consistent in my method will it most likely work even if we’ll be in different houses a lot? I figure he’ll be in the same cot and the room will be dark, just worried he may be scared or something.
Hi @Beth, traveling can be tricky, but it sounds like you need to get started now so you can maintain your sanity (and enjoy your travels)! You are right, having the same cot will hopefully help, you may try to keep with the same sheets and if you put anything else in the crib (I am not sure on the age of your baby to know if that is safe for you to do yet so I’m throwing that in there if he is old enough for a lovey or something) just make it consistent along with the bedtime routine. Good luck and safe travels!
Hi – my baby is 5 1/2 months and was a really good sleeper until a few weeks ago. He falls asleep on his own around 8 and he used to only wake up once between 2 and 4am and would then sleep until 7. But over the past couple weeks, he has started waking up 2-4 times a night, and I have been nursing him to get him back to sleep. I’ve decided that I don’t want to nurse him back to sleep anymore. My question is – when you are sleep training, how can you tell if you ought to feed your baby or simply help them fall back asleep on their own? Since he used to only need one feeding a night, do you think I could assume that’s all he needs now?
HI @Kristi, thank you for writing to us. I am sorry you have suddenly been struggling with your son’s frequent night wakings. We have a free guide that will help give you some more information and help you determine how to decide if his wake ups are caused by habit or hunger. You can download the guide here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
I hope this helps. If you need more information specifically for you child, we offer one-on-one support if you are interested! You can read about our options here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
Hang in there!
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