There are so many questions when it comes to sleep training. When to start? What to do? What method is best? And so forth.
Not to mention you could spend hours reading about sleep training techniques which only leaves you more intimidated to actually begin the process.
Therefore, I am going to share my very simple method of sleep training which was successful for both my babies.
Before I get into what I did I want to answer a few questions:
When should you begin sleep training?
Sleep training is typically started between 4 and 6 months. You can talk to your doctor to see what they recommend for your baby.
How do I know my baby is ready for sleep training?
Once again this will differ but my rule of thumb is when my baby becomes difficult to get to sleep, wakes up right away when set down or has trouble napping and sleeping at night. Once again talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.
When my daughter turned 4 months old I knew I could begin the sleep training process but I decided to hold off until I no longer could handle the short naps, difficulty getting her to sleep and the frequent waking up during the night. With my first born I ended up sleep training about a week after she turned 4 months and my second I started a few days before she turned 5 months.
Side note: my second born was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old. You can read about that here. However, when she turned 4 months she was hit hard by the 4 month sleep regression and never returned to her old (and amazing) sleep habits that is until I sleep trained.
What method is best?
There is no better method. You should choose a method based on what you are comfortable with and what you think will suit your baby best.
Alright now that I addressed those common yet confusing questions I will tell you exactly what I did.
An easy guide to sleep training your baby
Step 1: Set a Schedule
This is necessary because it will help you figure out when your baby should be sleeping and for how long. A 4-6 month old needs 15 hours of sleep which includes 2-3 naps per day.
If your baby is sleeping 10 hours at night then they would need 5 hours total of nap time. My daughter typically sleeps 11-12 hours at night and gets 3-4 hours worth of nap time split up into 3 naps.
It is also recommended to follow the wake, eat, play, sleep schedule so your baby does not associate sleeping with nursing or the bottle (or any other sleep associates they may have). I also recommend not sleep training with a pacifier.
Check out my daughter’s current schedule below:
Some days my daughter wakes up right at 7 and other days it is closer to 7:30-8. I simply adjust the times based on when she wakes up.
Step 2: Create a good sleep environment
- Sleep train in the crib
- Darken the room
- Use white noise (This is my favorite)
- Use a sleep sack, like this one!
These four items will create a good sleeping environment that will help your baby get to sleep and stay sleeping.
Step 3: Decide on a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine will signal to your baby that it is time to go to sleep. The following are great options for including in a bedtime routine:
- Story Time
- Brushing Teeth
- Saying Goodnight
I recommend picking 2-3 things. Also keep in mind that the bedtime routine will likely differ slightly between naps and night time but keep it as close as you can.
Step 4: Sleep Training Method
There are many different methods out there so pick one that you are comfortable with. Furthermore, you can start with bedtime and do naps later, begin with naps or you can do them both at the same time. For my first I did bed then naps and my second I did both at the same time (Both worked great).
Here is my sleeping training method:
- Get room ready (Darken/turn on white noise) & put on sleep sack
- Complete nap/bedtime routine (Read book & Sing)
- Lay baby in crib and say “Goodnight I love you, time for your nap (or bed)”
- Walk out of room (Baby will more than likely cry)
- Wait two minutes and go back into the room. DO NOT pick up your baby. Instead pat their belly and comfort them with your voice. After your baby has calmed down walk out of the room (They may not calm down though but they will know you are there).
- Double the amount of time before going back in.
- Continue to do this until your baby falls asleep (I always set a 45-60 minute cap but do what you feel comfortable with).
This method worked for both my babies. My first born took 4-5 days until she learned to fall asleep on her own and my second only took 2 days (but she was a great sleeper from the start and already started learning how to self soothe). Every baby is different but it should not take any longer than 7 days.
Side note: I don’t quite remember the specifics for my first born but for my second the very first time took her 35 minutes to fall asleep. Then it gradually went down until she no longer made any noise and would go to sleep right away on her own. Now she does have days where she will cry for 5-10 minutes or even longer so do not feel discouraged if this happens (babies aren’t perfect and neither are we for that matter).
Step 5: Be consistent
This is hands down the most important step. Regardless if you decide to use my method or something else the best thing you can do is to stay consistent. Sleep training is HARD but it is worth it. Failure to be consistent will start the entire sleep training process over again which will just prolong the difficulty of it.
Sleep training is good for your baby and there is no right or wrong time to begin once your baby has hit the 4 month mark. If you decide to try and feel it is not the right time or method you can always stop and try again in a few weeks.
Good luck mama, you got this!