5 Easy Ways To Start Sleep Training TONIGHT. (You Can Do #1 Right Now!)

Start Sleep Training Tonight

If you have been working on your baby or toddler’s sleep for any length of time, then you know that sleep coaching tends to take time. Sure, some parents see miraculous results overnight, but that’s the exception – it’s not the norm! For most of us, sleep coaching involves days or weeks of work before we see real, meaningful results. The work is worth it, of course – the payoff of a full night’s sleep is worth anything!

But sometimes, starting can just seem so daunting. What do you do first? Should you start with a nap, or with bedtime? Lots for an exhausted, sleep-deprived parent to consider!

As always, we are here to help. We know that sleep coaching can be an intimidating process to start, so we thought we’d help make it easier. Below are 5 things you can do tonight that will help kick off the sleep coaching process for you and your baby, and start your whole family on the road to better sleep. Think of this as your ‘quick win’ – you can put each of these strategies to work tonight – no waiting necessary!

5 Easy Ways To Start Sleep Training TONIGHT

  1. Identify your baby’s sleep associations. This is easy – you can do this right now, in just a few minutes! Think about how your baby or toddler typically falls asleep. Does she fall asleep while nursing, or drinking her bottle? Maybe she falls asleep while you rock her? Does she fall asleep on you, or in your arms? All of these are sleep associations – they are things your baby needs in order to fall asleep. The process of sleep training is simply weaning your baby away from her sleep associations, so that she can learn to fall asleep on her own, without outside help. Once you have identified your baby or toddler’s sleep associations, you have identified the problems that need fixing. That’s step one!
  2. Start a bedtime routine. If you haven’t already, start a bedtime routine tonight with your baby or toddler. It doesn’t have to be long (it shouldn’t be, actually – 15 minutes is sufficient!), and it doesn’t have to be complicated (again, it shouldn’t be – you want straightforward and simple). Read a few books, sing a lullaby, give kisses and cuddles, and then it’s lights out. Pledge to do this routine every night; that’s what puts the “routine” in bedtime routine. Once you have instituted a strong routine, it will help your baby or toddler better understand what’s expected of him at bedtime.
  3. Shorten your baby or toddler’s time spent with a particular sleep association. Now that you know how your baby or toddler falls asleep, work to shorten whatever association she has. For instance, if your baby needs to be rocked to sleep, try to cut back a little on the time you spend rocking her. If you typically rock her for 30 minutes, try rocking her for 20 and then holding her without any movement for 10. If you do this gradually, you will eventually (and gently!) wean your baby away from the nursing. Same with feeding your baby or toddler to sleep, or holding her until she falls asleep – slightly reduce the time you spend doing these things. This is the first step towards changing your baby or toddler’s sleep associations.
  4. Don’t race in when your baby or toddler starts crying after a night waking. I’m not telling you to let your baby cry-it-out. You may choose that method if you feel it’s best for your situation, but know that I’m not instructing you to do that, necessarily! Rather, I’m encouraging you to wait a few moments between the time you hear your baby or toddler cry and the time you pick him up. Remember, not every cry is truly a cry for help – some cries are simply noises that our babies or toddlers make as they briefly wake between sleep cycles. In those cases, if you were to wait a few minutes, you might find that your baby or toddler settles himself, without your help. So when you hear a cry tonight – just give it a minute. See if your baby or toddler can re-settle without you.
  5. Track the times of all night wakings. You can’t really know what you’re working towards, in terms of your baby’s nighttime sleep or daytime schedule, until you know what the current situation looks like. So tonight, and over the next few days, track the timing of everything. Make note of all night wakings. Write down bedtimes and wake times. Note all naps, including when they start and finish. Same with feedings. What you are doing here is starting your sleep log. That will become important as you continue to work on sleep training. A sleep log will show you any patterns or trends that may be happening in your baby or toddler’s sleep. It will also help show you where you are making progress and where you need to continue to focus your efforts.

You Don’t Have To Sleep Train Alone

Remember that, while you certainly can sleep train your baby or toddler on your own, you don’t have to. That’s what we are here for! Sleep training can be tough, and hundreds of parents turn to us for sleep coaching help every month. We can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.

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17 thoughts on “5 Easy Ways To Start Sleep Training TONIGHT. (You Can Do #1 Right Now!)”

  1. We’ve started sleep training our 8 mo old & it’s been challenging. Some nights, he sleeps several hours & wakes up to nurse & goes back to sleep, but the last several nights he has woken up about 20-30 minutes after being put to sleep & cries very hard. If I go to him, he immediately calms down, but as soon as I think hes asleep & put him down, he starts crying again. Any thoughts?

    • @Timilyn – Thank you for stopping by our sleepy little village and for sharing with us. I can imagine how exhausted you all must be with such frequent waking and crying. 8 months can be a pretty tough age for sleep, for sure, since your little guy is experiencing tons of brain and physical development that usually sets off a sleep regression (see here for more on that: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/8-9-10-month-old-baby-sleep-regression/). Separation anxiety rears its ugly head around this time, too, which makes sleep a bit more challenging for a while since he may be fairly anxious when you go to leave him. This article overviews it a bit: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/baby-toddler-sleep-separation-anxiety/

      And, it sounds as though you’re still working through his sleep coaching in that he’s not still awake when you go to put him down, which likely means he may have a sleep association there that is still being worked on but that causes him to wake and fuss when he’s not still in your arms/being rocked/fed, etc when he wakes from sleep. Please give the regression article a read and if you feel that your son is in the midst of it, you’ll just want to get through the next few weeks. If you feel that it could be separation anxiety or still working through his sleep associations as you work on his sleep training, you’ll just want to try to stay consistent with just a bit more TLC for that anxiety.

      And if, at any point, you decide you need (or want!) more support, feel free to connect with one of our sleep consultants either in our Members Area or with one of our consultations. You can see all of those options here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/ and here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/diy/

      I hope this helps, Timilyn. Hang in there, and please keep reading!

  2. Hi. My seven month old does not like sleeping in his crib. He falls asleep during nursing and also wakes up several times to nurse. I am so exhausted. . I’m tired of co-sleeping.. please help!

  3. Hi quick question. My daughter just turned 9 months today and while i have no complaints because i know she can do 10-12 hours night and 1.5-2 hour naps (naps twice a day) im just wondering why sometimes… (This week she woke MOFTN 3 times already around the same time 3-4am and although i feel she was a bit congested earlier in the week and teething for sure) how do we stop the MOFTN wakings 100%? She sleeps independently no association. If she wakes MOFTN we pat her back and if she seems upset we pick her up and put her down. Thanks

    • @Wc, Thank you for writing to us! It sounds like your daughter is doing really well for you generally, that is wonderful! As your baby goes through different developments, it is common for their sleep to be disrupted from time to time. There is a sleep regression that hits around 9 months that you may be experiencing as well, not to mention any illness or teething that may be playing in as well! Just like there are nights you or I will wake up in the middle of the night, it is likely if it’s occasional for your daughter that is what is happening too, and is not really a problem. Here is a link for info on the 9 month sleep regression: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/8-9-10-month-old-baby-sleep-regression/ Thanks for your comment and I hope this helps!

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