skip to Main Content

Sleep Training Made Easy: The Ultimate Guide for Overwhelmed Parents

Sleep Training Made Easy:  The Ultimate Guide For Overwhelmed Parents

I get it. Sleep training is taboo.

It’s a word that not everyone wants to talk about. Some people think it’s sacrilegious, scary and quite awful. And, don’t even think about bringing up sleep training in a mom’s group. That’s when all the girl fighting begins.

Sleep training is something that no one wants to talk about because no one really wants to do it.

We all want to have the baby that sleeps blissfully on day one. The baby that coos and gurgles happily.

That can fall asleep independently, that wakes up happy.

No one dreams of becoming a sleep-deprived hot-mess dressed in puked on pajamas.

No one longs for reflux, sore nipples, blow out diapers and babies that cry (a lot)!

That sure as hell wasn’t the vision when dreaming of the blissful family.

For many parents, the nightmare has become the reality.  Since the 4 Month Sleep Regression, your baby all of the sudden doesn’t sleep so hot.

They know they need to make a change. That carrying on with such little sleep and so many wakeups isn’t good for anyone.

So when you have a baby that won’t sleep longer than 1.5 hours..
Or won’t nap longer than 20 minutes
And you’re hanging on by just a thread…

This is when it’s important to understand what sleep training is.

The purpose for this blog post is to provide support and knowledge for the sleep-deprived parents that might now know what day of the week it is.

(Please, please, please – if you do not agree with sleep training –  this article isn’t for you.  Please don’t tell me that I’m horrible.  Please don’t tell others that they are horrible too.  The greatest thing about the internet is the back button.  Please no hating on me!)

What is sleep training?

I asked a group of moms what sleep training meant to them and their definitions were pretty varied:

…Trying to “train” your baby to adhere to a sleep schedule like yours.
…Ferber Method
…Following a set protocol to get your child to sleep more- usually CIO.
…Working on teaching your child the times to sleep.

Some call it sleep coaching, some call it sleep shaping, sleep supporting but I just call it sleep training. Why? To me it’s just a recognizable word and means exactly what it says.

My definition of sleep training is giving your child the tools to fall asleep independently while making each variable as optimal as possible.

The soothing component (how you are going to teach your baby these skills) is the biggest component of a sleep training plan, but so is making sure your baby is well rested, focusing on age-appropriate nap and bedtimes, and sleeping in an environment conducive to sleep.

You could also say that sleep training is, simply put, training your baby to sleep. Ok, that works too.

…It’s not just about letting your baby cry to sleep.
…It’s not just about letting your baby get rid of all their feeds in the middle of the night (since I don’t usually do that).
…It’s not just about your baby falling asleep alone at bedtime.
…It’s definitely not about getting your baby to fall asleep at the times that are best for you.

There are many different approaches and philosophies behind sleep training but as long as you are focusing on independent sleep skills and optimizing the other variables of sleep, you are on the right track.

When sleep training is done correctly, results can be seen immediately. Not to mention, that having a baby sleep well can be life-changing.

Why does sleep training get such a bad reputation?

We live in the day and age of a lot of electronic information and it’s both a blessing and a curse. I know since I was that sleep-deprived mama. For the first few months of my second daughter’s life, I was holding her with one hand trying to get her to sleep while my second hand was googling everything about sleep that I could.

The good: There is a vast amount of information online.

The bad: There is a vast amount of information that contradicts all the information that you just read.

==>>That contradictory information makes many parents’ heads spin.

The good: You can find support through the internet. When my baby was going through those fun sleep issues, I stumbled upon a group of sleep crazed mamas and 3+ years later, I’m still connected with these ladies (and most of us are still obsessed with sleep).

The bad: Mom-shaming is such a thing… write the wrong thing in the wrong group and the results are not pretty. Moms who would never even think to be rude when you say hi to them at a Target picking up diapers have no problems letting out their disgust for your dissenting opinions due to the anonymity of the internet.

==>>Don’t go into a gunfight without a gun. Don’t ask for sleep training advice on Facebook.

talking about sleep training on facebook

So why does sleep training have such a bad rap?It’s because haters are going to hate, hate, hate (thanks Taylor) and if you feel strongly about something you are going to find a way to defend it. Plus, not everyone can feel comfortable about something that is so personal.

There is a lot of information out there that essentially says that you are really going to fuck up your kid if you even think about sleep training.

Since you can read it on the internet, it must be true.  So people are holding that information as gospel. And that’s OK.

For those that that are curious why people are so against sleep training it’s because there are (many) articles that show that sleep training causes attachment issues and increases stress to your baby.

Here are a couple articles against sleep training (read cautiously):

Parents Mislead By Cry It Out

I don’t want to discount what anyone feels, but these articles just don’t pass the sniff test for me.

A baby is provided love and attachment outside of sleep training. A baby is provided with love and attachment since they are part of a loving family unit.
The love in parenting outweighs the short term effects of sleep training.

And, of course, I am providing my perspective of the hundreds of clients that I’ve helped that have had life-changing results (who had such a hard time before they are called me).

Here are the articles supporting an attempt to sleep train:

Science Confirms Any Way You Want to Sleep Train Is Fine 

Sleep Training Is OK

There are some good studies that show that for a sleep trained sample (like this one), over a 5 year follow up, that there were no differences between the sleep-trained babies and the ones who were not.

A more recent Australian study showed that in a group of 43 sampled, the “sleep trained” group could fall asleep faster and had no stress, attachment or behavioral issues compared to the control group.

Also, our babies will all grow up and we will laugh when giving a speech at their wedding just how bad of a sleeper he really was.

I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about the way they should view sleep training – I’m just trying to take the shame away from the topic.

‘Cause can’t we moms get along?

Seeing both sides doesn't make you less passionate, it makes you (1) (1)

When is the right time to sleep train your baby?

There is no magical time to sleep train. I say that sleep training is when you are ready (or at least > 4 months adjusted age).
I get that there is a lot of discussion among professionals on the exact time that sleep training is best.

…There are many that say not before 4 months,

…Many say not before 6 months.

…Hey, there are even those people that say 2 months (I don’t recommend this approach).

I always suggest talking to your baby’s pediatrician and get their thoughts.

  • Always remember, go by adjusted due date vs. actual due date (if your baby was born 8 weeks early, make sure to subtract 8 weeks to their age). If your baby was born around the 38 week mark, you don’t need to adjust further as long as developmentally they are on track.
  • For reflux babies, make sure that the reflux is being managed or under control first.
  • Get your pediatrician’s A.O.K for growth and development.

I sleep trained my baby at 4 months and I had a really successful story (once my baby learned how to fall asleep independently and sleep in the crib – things came together quite nicely.)  I was getting rid of a Rock N’ Play addiction, ditching the pacifier, and removing the swaddle all at once.

It wasn’t at all the scary taking hours upon hours to fall asleep.  Other than the first two nights – it went pretty well after that.

So it’s hard for me to tell people that when things are really tough – to not sleep train at 4 months, since that’s what I did.

If you’re comfortable holding on until 6 months…more power to you. You won’t hear me complain.

Is there an “easy” age to sleep train?

In my hundreds of cases where I worked as a sleep consultant, there is no trend for a super easy age to sleep train. Just the truth.

4-5 months are sometimes tough since the baby battles with short naps and still have feeds during the night.  But yet, I’ve worked with many babies around this age who did amazing!

6-7 months sometimes can be tricky since you’re so close to the 3-2 nap transition. But again, there are always the ones that do great!

I’ve actually had a lot of great success sleep training the 8 month + range, especially when they are ready to drop feedings.

The biggest component is doing it when you are ready…. like really ready. If you’re not ready, don’t do it!

What if my 2, 3 or 4 or even 5 year old doesn’t sleep?

Have no fear – sleep is going to always go from good, to not so good to good again.  Sometimes, even the best sleepers get off and forget all of their awesome sleep skills.

Yes, you can still sleep train an older child but it’s not exactly the same as what works with babies (0-18 months).  I use a different set of techniques when working with toddlers or preschoolers since there is so much driven by behavior.  Plus, your can child can understand you so communication becomes a big part of the sleep plan. (Click here to get FREE access to my Preschooler Sleep Made Sleep Workshop).

But are you ready?

Feel free to do a reality check.

Parenting styles go in ebbs and flows… Believe it or not, not all that long ago, parents let their baby cry to sleep the minute they came from the hospital (I don’t recommend this approach). But, guess what, those people are really fabulous, caring, responsible adults. They weren’t ruined because their parents let them cry.

Ask your parents. Were you let to cry? Chances are you or someone you know was and you turned out OK (at least I think so).

My perspective:  I had two girls:  one sleep trained – one not.

I give the unique perspective since I have two girls. My youngest is the reason I am a sleep consultant. I did not sleep train my oldest daughter and she was never a good sleeper. I struggled for years with my oldest daughter and still to this day I have to focus on sleep.

My oldest daughter was addicted to a pacifier, always took short naps and when I made the awful mistake of converting from a crib wayyyyyy too early, she went to bed waaaaayyyyy too late and woke up waaaaaayyyyyy too early. She was an overtired hot mess.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda, but if only I nipped our sleep issues in the bud at 4 months, 6 months, or 12 months? Maybe our lives would have been a little easier?

Who knows?

 

But, I will say that both my girls have strong wills. That’s a personality. It has nothing to do with sleep training.

OK, So You’re Ready for Sleep Training.  Now What?

The worst thing I see is someone in their exhausted state decides “this is the night, we’re hunkering down. We’re just leaving our baby to cry.”

Boy, that is so the wrong way to do it…. so please don’t. OK?

Why, you ask?

Sleep training needs a plan. A really good plan. It needs thought. It needs preparation. Your head needs to be in the game before you start anything…

sleep training needs a good sleep plan
sleep training is not…

  • just about leaving your baby to cry.
  • just about getting rid of all night feeds.
  • just about seeing if you can survive one night of hell.I see way too many people who say – let’s do it. And then when the going gets tough… they stop.My thought: What was the point of starting when you clearly weren’t ready? Now, this is when working with a sleep consultant like me is so helpful. We create the plan based on your situation (to help you take the guesswork away).

    Here are the many questions that you need to answer before you even think about making your first sleep training attempt.

    • Are you ready to make a change?
    • Have you come up with a good plan?
    • What soothing method are you going to use?
    • Are you going to keep a pacifier?
    • Where will your baby sleep for nights and naps?
    • What changes are you going to make to your baby’s room to create the optimal sleep environment?
    • What will your bedtime routine look like?
    • How many night feeds will you have?
    • What will your soothing method be for nighttime?
    • Is the soothing method the same for night wakings, naps and bedtime?
    • What time will your day start?
    • Will you work on nights and naps at the same time?
    • Will your feeds be before or after naps?
    • Will naps be based on a set time or flexible times from when your baby is up?
    • What will you do if your baby takes a short nap?
    • Are you ready to be consistent?

    Once all these questions are answered in great detail, you’re ready to create your own sleep plan.

    What’s the most important component of sleep training?

    To make it easier on you, for many of you reading that are rocking or nursing their baby to sleep, your goal to start sleep training should be one thing.  To put your baby down awake and fall asleep independently.  Yeah sure – you would like your child to stay asleep too but let’s focus on baby steps.

    In fact, that’s what I make sure that every client I work with is prepared for.  Celebrate the little victories!  

    Your baby falls asleep (let’s celebrate)

    Your baby stays asleep (let’s celebrate).

    Everything else comes together in due time and for some of you – just teaching independent sleep skills is enough to have everything else come together quickly too.

    Night wakings, night feedings, early wakeups and short naps can sometimes be fixed by just teaching independent skills.

    But for other babies, it’s not so easy. But once you have the independent skills – you have something to build upon.

    How To Create A Sleep Plan

    Now that you’ve given some thoughts to the questions above, I can help you dig a little further to help create your own sleep plan.

    Sleeping Environment

    Your baby should be sleeping in an environment conducive to sleep (you paid all that money for the crib, so go ahead and let your baby sleep there!).

    Also think about cool (68-72 degrees), dark (yep, really dark – with blackout shades ===>>these are the best blackout shades made in the USA) and quiet with a white machine on (one that won’t turn off).

    Bedtime Routine

    I always suggest starting your sleep plan at night.  The sleep drive is higher at night and it’s typically easier to get your baby to fall asleep since naps are so hard.

    A consistent bedtime routine is a strong cue for sleep.  Think of the 3 Ss when creating the perfect routine for your baby.  Short, Sweet (or you can think of special) and See Ya.  A couple books, a short and sweet song and a sweet kiss and loving phrase will create the perfect routine that you and your baby can enjoy for years to come.

    The key is to put your baby to sleep awake.  One easy way to do this is to move nursing or the last bottle to the front of your routine (and by 9 months, I completely remove the last feeding completely from your bedtime routine) since we want to change the sleep/food association that is so strong.

    So here’s the key:  You put your baby in his crib awake.

    For little babies – you focus on drowsy but awake.  After 6 months, you need to make sure your baby is really “ready but awake” which will allow your baby to do all the work to get from a sleepy to sleeping state all by himself.

    OK, Your Baby Is Placed in the Crib Awake Now What?

    So what’s next is the hardest part of the plan.  Once you are outside of your baby’s room, your baby isn’t just going to say “thanks, mom and dad, I’ve been really wanting to fall asleep on my own.” Nope.  That would be too easy.

    Your baby will be pissed.  Your baby doesn’t know how to fall asleep.  This is new for her and she doesn’t like it.

    Now since you’ve done your pre-work, you aren’t going to take these cries personally.

    …she doesn’t hate you
    …you’re not torturing her
    …she just doesn’t yet know how to fall asleep and that’s what you are going to teach her.
    So now you have to choose your method. There are a few methods to choose from and even others methods that aren’t listed below. But this is a good range of the gentler methods to the “rip the bandaid” approach.
    What’s important is that you pick a plan that you feel that you can be consistent with. You need to understand how each method works and be prepared even before you start the plan.
The method that you pick is what is called the soothing method.  It’s how you choose to help your child learn self-soothing skills.

What baby sleep training method should I use?

 

sleep training soothing method

There are several different methods that you can use to help teach your baby fall asleep by themselves.

The method you pick is also known as the “soothing method” and is mainly decided based on what you’re most comfortable with and your family philosophy.  The methods vary from cry-it-out sleep training to no-tears methods (but sorry, folks – all the methods below, maintain some level of crying since this is new for your baby).

Of course, this list I’m sharing below isn’t the only way to sleep train your baby – just some of the more popular methods I recommend.

Click here to Get the Sleep Training Made Easy:  Soothing Method Cheat Sheet and learn more to figure out which one might be a better fit for you

Pick Up / Put Down:  To me, considered the gentlest of methods.  It can be used in combination with a “no-cry” solution or you can wait a period of time between intervals.  Essentially, you are picking your baby up.  Calming (hopefully) and then putting your baby back down to give him the opportunity to fall asleep by himself.

The Chair Method: This is considered another “gentler” method.  Although this one doesn’t necessarily get your baby to not cry, it can help you be with your baby the entire time they are learning to fall asleep independently (also known as fading).  Your presence “through sitting in the chair”, moves away from your baby as she learns to fall asleep independently.  This is an approach I recommend for an older baby (approx 12 months) through preschooler, but it can often be difficult when used with a younger baby.

Controlled Comforting:  This method is also known as the Ferber method (thank you Dr. Ferber and his book).  Over set intervals of time, you go back in and comfort your baby.  I suggest that you can shush, pat, touch and use comforting words, but you do it for only 1 minute and your goal is not to calm your baby down.  Your goal is to reassure your baby (and yourself).

Extinction:  This is what I consider as “cry-it-out”.  You choose not to respond to your child when they are learning this important skill.

Once things are great does that mean I’m out of the woods?

Even the best sleepers are prone to get off track once in a while.   There are always sleep regressions, teething, vacations, daylight saving time and sickness that can cause little things to go from good to suck, pretty quickly.

But, once your child has independent skills, things should re-bound pretty quickly.  For the unlucky families, you may have to re-train down the road, but many parents usually don’t have to since they have great sleepers for the future.

Your Turn:

Sleep training may never be in your future but if it is, the goal of this article is to help you figure out a solid plan. (So you do it right the first time.)

Don’t think that you have to go it alone.  If you need additional help you can have me help (heck, I can even create the plan for you).  Once your baby becomes a champion sleeper, you may think it was the best (worst) thing that you’ve ever done for your family.

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

This Post Has 90 Comments
  1. Finally an article on sleep training that doesn’t make me terrified of it!! Thank you so much! Now I feel a little less daunted by the whole task!

      1. Hi. I was wondering if you have any advice on how to sleep train to the baby if I tried all those methods and not one has worked. My baby is a bit over 5 months now and she gets up every hour. What else could I do? If I let her cry she goes on foor over an hour and even then wakes up after an hour.

          1. Hi Susie

            My 13 weeks LO sleeps in day time only for 30minutes and wake up happily.
            He falls back to sleep within 1 or a max. Of 1 1/2 hour.
            Can you suggest methods for improving the sleep

  2. Thank you so much for this!

    I have some specifics to ask about if that’s ok.
    My son is 9 months old (today infact) and I am beyond ready to get more than 2hour stretches of sleep a night as I am back at work as a teacher part time.

    He was ebf until solids, has never really taken to a bottle nor a dummy which he will not entertain now (pacifier). We are now down to two feeds a day, first thing before his solids breakfast and the feed to sleep at night. And all the wake up feeds overnight!

    We moved the cotbed into our room when he outgrew the Moses basket as he was having so many feeds at night but he has a beautiful nursery that he has never slept in. Is combining the move to his nursery and sleep training a bad idea?

    I am just so exhausted and it’s only me to get up at night as won’t take from a bottle, and roughly three times an evening before we head to bed

    We’ve got a solid bedtime routine, bath time with daddy 7-7:15ish and then song or story(while dressing) then bed.

    Sorry for incoherent ramblings. I have asked the health visitors for help and they just smile at me and tell me it’s just how things are and then call me back to say I have a low mood- I’m exhausted! That’s literally all that’s wrong!

    Please help me if you can, Thank you

    1. hi! 9 Months old is a great time to sleep train but only when you are ready. I would definitely suggest sleep training in your baby’s nursery. I’m happy to help if you get stuck (www.sleepbabylove.com/consult). xx

    2. I would love to hear what happened… as you have literally described my sleep deprived life with my eight month old.
      I have started the independent falling asleep training thing (sitting by his side the entire time, touching him as I couldn’t bear the fact to hear him cry and not being able to actively comfort him) and got a better evening at least but night time is still an issue. We now have slightly longer gaps between waking but he sleeps in my bed which is counterproductive…but gives me more sleep… (lesser of two evils?)
      So… Four months on, how’s it going?

  3. Hi..i am a sleep deprived mom.. my baby is 6 months old. I was planning to start sleep training from 4th month but i was so terrified and felt guilty to leave him on his own. I rock him everynight to sleep and he is a big baby and i am not able to do it any more. All me frds still rock their babies to sleep and they are more than an year old. How do i ease this guilt..? Please help. Baby sleeps well once he is asleep but i want him to sleep on his own and try to put himself back to sleep on his own. Do you think he will hate me for doing this.

    1. I really believe you need to do it yourself. Read some of the articles that I posted saying that your child won’t hate you. But, you really have to decide 🙂 xx

    2. Mrs. M,
      I am not a sleep consultant, nor a sleep expert (just a once sleep deprived mama who researched A LOT about sleep training), but rocking a one year old to sleep probably does more harm than good (in reference to getting a child to sleep independently). Do not feel bad if you want to sleep train! Your son will not hate you! There are many gentle approaches to sleep training with minimal crying and the ability to comfort your child. Look up sleep associations. Some examples are rocking or feeding to sleep, using a pacifier to sleep, etc. Basically they are things that your child needs to use to fall asleep, which hinder your child from falling asleep independently. It’s all up to you how you want to teach your child to fall asleep by himself. Each child/family is different and what works for others may not be what works best for you and your family. Personally, I don’t like cry it out methods and a more gentle approach worked best for us. But I know plenty of people who used CIO and their kids are just fine. I know sleep training can be difficult, but I feel that better sleep in the long run for everybody is definitely worth it.

  4. Enlightening article for sleep-deprived parents. I’m wondering if sleep training is possible for us since my husband and I are co-sleeping with our daughter and I’m exclusively breastfeeding?

  5. THANK YOU for this article! I have two children, 3.5 and 13 months, and we sleep trained both of them. Of course when I was expecting my first, I was scouring the internet, reading all the books and generally freaking out about my impending sleep-deprived future. I read Baby Wise and ended up doing some version of scheduling and pick up/put down that worked for us and our girls. Was each child the same? Absolutely not, and we had to adapt our methods the second time around. This article would have been SO helpful to have back then. This is well researched, informative and reasonable! Honestly, I was scared to even click on the article for fear that it would be more mom-shaming against sleep training. I am so pleasantly surprised. Thank you again, I will be SHARING!

  6. Hi! I have a 4 month old who used to sleep well at 1 month but about a month ago he started waking up EVERY hour and Never really took naps longer than 30 mins. We tried doing the whole reassuring check in method when sleep training but he would cry over 2 hours if we let him, we finally stopped because he just would cry for so long and we didn’t know how else to continue, plus he only falls asleep as I’m BF him. If we were to start again, how long is the appropriate length to let him cry? Not necessarily as CIO method but in teaching him to fall asleep on his own? He just refuses to.

    1. This is a bit late for you, but perhaps this will be of benefit for others. I noticed that when my baby is just about to erupt new teeth, sleeping patterns get all messed up. It takes about a week to get back to a normal, and sometimes new sleep pattern. We have just made sure that we are calm and collected ourselves, so as to not pass on distress with our assumption of her sleeping issues to our baby. Just helping her through her journey.

      1. great point! I definitely address that regressions or development periods are cause for a disruption in sleep. It’s when those disruptions become a trend that parents need to look at other reasons that the issues may be caused in the first place – and not having independent skills is definitely a good place to start! xx

  7. Amazing article! We are currently sleep training and the amount of mom shaming I get is incredible. I have had some of my husband’s family say some pretty negative things and my son ” IS ALWAYS NAPPING” …. He is almost 7 months old and are finding we have had some positive outcomes so far. He really has never been a strong sleeper since birth, except for a small stint of 12 hour nights, we consistently have had only 20 minute naps and a chronically over tired cranky babe. He has been much happier, has learned some pretty amazing things kind of all at once, I find he retains more information now that he is better rested.

    1. so happy you liked it! I always just say, speak from your heart! Your family is better off since now you’re all getting more sleep! No further justification needed!

  8. Great article! Planning to use these tips. My baby is 3 months and up every 2 hrs. Is it too early to start with the pick up method? Do you think they need to do sleep training in their own bed? He sleeps in a pack n play in our room right now..

  9. Hai ma’m, my baby is 6 months old and I started sleep training from the beginning. Her sleeping time at night is 7.30 pm to 7.30 am and will sleep on her cradle . I am always pat on the back and she fall asleep by herself. I am trying to train her 12 hours continues sleep. But she wakes up maximum 3 times in the night for feeding and will sleep so fast after the feeding. I am totally confused that, is my baby is on routine? Have any chance to get a continuous 12 hours sleep?

  10. Omg! This article is so inspirational! Thanks for taking the time to be really detailed. I have a 6 month old who wakes every 1.5 at night to feed. I nurse on demand throughout the day. Is it okay to start sleep training & if so, how do I go about his feedings? (he weighs 20 lbs and is healthy)

    1. hi Abri! Glad you liked the article. I think that you need to figure out what you’d like to do about the feedings (since I won’t be there to go in or not). By 8/9 months, I typically drop all feedings, but if you’re ready earlier, it’s typically OK to get rid of a feed at 6 months. I’m happy to guide you further through one of my consults!

  11. Thank you for this! Susie… I will not read the articles on why not to sleep train, for fear of changing my mind. Baby just turned 7 months and whilst he eats really well and sleeps really well during his day-time naps, he is a terrible night-sleeper and wakes up several times crying (not hungry). Do you think dreams? He cries until soothed (gentle rocking / patting) without really “waking” (eyes stay closed and he stays still)! Do you think anxiety / fear of abandonment? Do you think this will be remedied during sleep training?

  12. I want to start sleep training my 4 month old, I’m getting him to start falling asleep on his own for naps and bed….but what do I do in the middle of the night he wakes up 4 times and just drinks enough to fall back to sleep, last night I popped the soother in 3 of the 4 times and fed him once….how do I stop him from waking so many times?

  13. It’s a very good read. My baby is on her 4th month and if I leave her to bed alone, she would sleep with sucking her thumb. I wish to know if that would be her habit or could I do anything else about it ?
    Thanks !

  14. My toddler is 16 months old and not a good sleeper. I was Ferberizing him and it seemed to be working until he figured out how to jump out of his crib. I can’t put him down awake or drowsy because he jumps out. I’m afraid he’s hurting himself. I’m 8 months pregnant and need him sleep trained fast. What can I do to stop him from bailing out of his crib?

  15. Hi there I was wondering if u could give some suggestions.
    I sleep trained and I was very lucky I’d say and my LO has slept about 12 hours a night since a very young age (I’m the mom other moms glare at lol)
    My LO is now 14 months and is sometimes dropping his morning nap but here is the problem he only ever naps 1 hour in the am and one hour ish in the pm
    and sometimes he doesn’t nap in the am at all or refuses a nap in the pm. Sometimes he only has an hour nap in the am and refuses the nap all together then he has only slept an hour (am) and is awake from 1030 til 630/7pm which I find a long time without sleep. I have tried cutting out the morning nap but then my LO gets maybe an hour in the pm. I guess I just don’t know what to do next?? Help?

  16. Do you have any advice for 6 month old twins? Would sleep training be any diffrent. They sleep in seperate cribs, but in the same nursery.

  17. Hi, your link for white machines takes you to many on amazon. Can you suggest your favourite white machine that doesn’t turn off? I’m lost with all the ones available!
    Thank you!

  18. Need advice! My 7 month old has been a rock-n-play sleeper since birth (if I could only go back in time- first time mom mistake). We are currently trying to sleep train. He absolutely hates to lay flat in his crib! We originally started in our bedroom in a mini crib but found that the mini crib is way to small for him. We then moved to his standard crib. We have oriented him to the space gradually but when we lay him down he totally freaks out! We are using a combo or the chair method and controlled comforting method. He cries so hard and for so long he has actually vomited. I am at a total loss. The poor thing gets so worked up it takes minutes to calm him once picked up. He is such a happy baby and only cries when we are sleep training. We are currently in the survival mode each night/nap as we continue to give it our best! Whisper a prayer!
    Rebekah

    1. The adjustment takes a bit – but he will get used to it. Try not picking him up and keeping him the crib while soothing. Might make a difference. Good luck, mama!

  19. Hi!

    I have a little boy who is about to turn 12mo here in a couple weeks, would you recommend the graduated extinction or Ferber method for a baby that age? We tried graduated extinction at 8mo but after 4 weeks he was still waking 5 times a night and I gave up. However he has improved a lot since then and I feel like he is ready to try again. Thanks!

  20. Where I’m from I noticed that those mums who sleep trained openly talked about it, and those who didn’t quietly kept it to themselves – as though we were the ones who ‘just made it harder on ourselves’… Each to their own but I always observed the condescension coming from the other direction.. I think it’s important for people, parents to be able to entertain or explore an idea, and see why it is best for some, without necessarily accepting it for themselves.

    1. Hi Hope, Isn’t it funny how we all have our own perspective. I love the quote – seeing both sides doesn’t make you less passionate it makes you compassionate. It’s summed up perfectly!

  21. For younger babies do you rock them until they are drowsy but not asleep, then lay them down? Or just wait from them to be tired and grumpy? I would definitely love some more insight cause I am pooped all the time.

  22. I love this article! I sleep trained my second daughter when she was 3 mo and it changed her life and our life as parents. She started to nap longer, she was able to fall asleep on her own without crying. It just must be the right method. I think the best one is by Susan Urban. It’s called Hold With Love (HWL – if I remember correctly). The method is without CIO so no harm for the baby. I’ve read her guide in an hour or so because it’s in a nutshell and i knew exactly what to do with step by step instructions. After 3 days my LO was able to sleep all night long without eating every hour and she started to nap longer so she finally wasn’t exhausted. The method must be great because I had like the worst sleeper in the history of babies.
    You just must do it step-by-step like the author says. So I wanted to encourage everybody who is interested in sleep train a baby to first of all try Susan Urban’s method and follow her instructions and I bet any other method especially with CIO won’t be necessary. I’ve found instructions on what to do and how to do it in the guide “How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone” from I think the author’s website http://www.parental-love.com
    I just regret I didn’t sleep train my older son with this method but I can’t turn back the time can I

    1. I must say the HWL worked for my babygirl. She JUST started going to sleep on her own!
      NO MORE ROCKING TO SLEEP!!!
      thank you for the information about this guide Amy! I really appreciate your advice!!

  23. I’m so glad I found this article! I can’t wait to share it with my husband and set up a plan. My 8.5 month old baby boy actually sleeps through the night but the problem is, he’ll only sleep solid if he’s in our bed! He slept soundly his first four months of life in his own crib (through the night even) but since then he’s struggled to stay asleep in his crib and now I’ve created the problem of letting him sleep with us. Are there any other specifics I should know about making the transition back to his crib or does the the same sleep training plan still apply? Thank you!!!!

  24. I just want to send some love your way in response to your disclaimer about sending haters away kindly. I have a 2 month old and really want to do right by her and me. This is great info and I’m grateful for it. So thank you!

  25. Every time I try to download your cheat sheet or other stuff on blog it asks me for email I put in email and then nothing happens…

    1. hi! Thanks for letting me know! I checked my system and it looks like the cheat sheet did get sent (along with a bunch of other messages). Can you check your junk folder if you didn’t see it?

  26. I would love to read this article; I’m sure there is a ton of good information in it. However it’s just too long winded for a mom with two little ones to sit down and really read through. Do you have a Cliff Notes version?

  27. This article is helpful but I have a serious concern for babies’ hearing.

    The recommendation here of using “loud white noise” to create a good sleep environment goes against the AAP’s warning that putting white noise too loud can cause long term hearing damage. (https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Can-Infant-Sleep-Machines-Be-Hazardous-to-Babies-Ears.aspx)

    White noise isn’t bad in and of itself; it just isn’t safe as loudly as this article seems to imply.

  28. Great article! I’m working on sleep training my 10 month old now. Do you have any tips for getting rid of the pacifier? I’m literally scared to take it away! It’s the only thing tha really helps her relax (and she is not very relaxed if you get my drift). And if we go through a rough time taking it away, what should we do/expect?

    Thank you so much for your insight and help!

  29. I’m starting to gather my info and make my plan to start sleep training my almost 6mo old but I have a cpl questions. 1. Shld I do same soothing method (whichever we go with) at nap times also when we begin?
    2. Shld it be same parent each time or vary between dad and mom? I want my husband to be able to put her down for bed and naps too.
    3. She is currently.in a bassinet in my room but outgrowing it. Shld I go ahead and put her in th crib when we start the training? So we transition to that at same time or will that be too much different for her?

    Loved this article too!!

    1. Hi! 1) It’s a tough question and I think you have to figure out if you’re ready to work on naps. I typically recommend it and yes, you would do the same method! 2) I would work on both parents or caregivers (or anyone else) being successful at putting the baby down 3) I would not sleep train in a bassinet. I would move the baby to the place where you plan on her sleeping long term.

  30. Susie, you’re so responsive! I have a couple of questions:

    1) Do I sleep train for just the night or even for naps too? What if there are times that I just need to bring my baby out with me?

    2) She falls asleep while suckling. Then she cries once I remove my breast. At night, she wakes frequently to suck for a short while then she will scream once I try to put her down.

    Helpppppp 🙁

  31. This is excellent reading! I have a almost 5 month old breastfed who I think just started a sleep regression. She used to sometimes fall asleep on her own while swaddled but over time grew to require rocking or nursing to sleep. She’s always had short naps but slept great at night. Went to bed at 11 and slept til 8 or 9am. But now wakes at 3 and is hard to get back to sleep.
    I have 2 questions.
    I pretty much follow an EASY schedule. If I eliminate her last nap of the day so as to make bed time earlier, then she gets one less feeding during a day. Thoughts?
    She is still swaddled though I’m starting to do naps with one arm out. Theyre only 30 minute naps anyway so why not! Should she be unswaddled before sleep training? Could we dItch the swaddle at the same time as sleep training? I sit in her room while she’s sleeping sometimes and know that she has legs that just kick in her sleep and startle her awake (legs aren’t swaddled tightly, just the arms)
    This is my 5th baby but she (and I) are just so different than with the first 4 kids. It’s been 8 years since the next oldest was a baby and he was a thumb suckere who could usually get himself to sleep ok. (As far as I remember). Thanks so much for this great article!

    1. Hi Heather! Wow, 5 kids! You’re a pro! Yes, ditch the swaddle when sleep training – regardless, she’s at the age to be into a sleep sack as well!

  32. Similar to above, when do you ditch the swaddle? My baby is 4 months, sleeps in a bassinet next to me with a swaddle and a soothie. I want to get rid of soothie & swaddle and move to her room but whenever we try naps with no swaddle, they end up being really short. Do I just need to bite the bullet and make all 3 changes?

  33. I have 6 month old twins, 5 weeks early so 4.75 months adjusted. We’re using two rock and plays for them to nap and go to bed at night in. They won’t nap more than 30 mins on the dot and sleep in 3 hour intervals at night. Both have acid reflux which has been a bit worse the last few days and they’ve just started eating solid food. My problem is I’m/we/they are exhausted. Beyond exhausted. They get up to nurse every 3 hrs, I’m barely sleeping and they’re barely sleeping. They’re fussy during the day and not happy babies like they should be. I have 4 older children and have been a mom for 23 years but my older kiddos didn’t need sleep training. I was blessed with 4 great sleepers and happy babies. So this is new to me and I won’t be able to let them cry much as one twin will scream horrifically and immediately. She has popped a tiny blood vessel in her eye twice, and this was within one minute of crying in her car seat. I need help, they need help. I’m very ready to sleep train but need the tools to try with twins who share a room. They have separate cribs so they won’t be sharing one. They sleep in separate rock and plays now so not being together won’t be an issue plus they’re too big to share a crib. I want happy, sleeping babies so we can enjoy this time. They haven’t slept well since day 1. As a side note, I also believe they’re pretty spoiled at this point. They have 6 older teens/adults (ourselves included) picking them up the moment they make a peep…… Any help is more than greatly appreciated!

  34. Hi Susie, I’m looking for advice on sleep-training and naps. You mention deciding whether to conquer bedtime and naps at the same time but, and I apologize if I missed it, I did not see where you talk about how to do the nap part of sleep training. Our daughter is 11 months old and we started sleep-training (nighttime only with the Ferber method) with her about a month ago. It has been semi-successful; we need to do a little tweaking – deciding whether to use her pacifier and making sure she is mostly awake when we lay her down. Along with 1 or 2 other times when we can just go in an replace her pacifier) she wakes up around 4 or 5 am almost every morning and won’t go back to sleep unless we pick her up, so we obviously need to work on this some. However, I was wondering what we should do about naps? I still give her a pacifier, play music and rock her to sleep for her morning nap (usually only 30 minutes long so possibly getting ready to give this one up) and I nurse her down for her afternoon nap (closer to 2 hours long). I know this is probably the wrong thing to do but I was concerned about doing all the sleep-training at once as I didn’t want her to get so overly tired that she couldn’t fall asleep and sleep well any of those times. How do you suggest handling naps? Is it better to establish nighttime training first before moving onto naps? Or should we do all at once, as I also worry not sleep-training during naps will inhibit nighttime sleep-training from working well and as quickly? Should we do one nap at a time? Thank you SO much for your response!!

  35. Super article!

    My 5 month old has mastered sleeping independently when we initially put her down…she wakes 5 hours later for a feed but then every 1.5 hours until morning.

    She also will not nap without feeding or bouncing. Should we do our sleep training method during the day to stop those nap time sleep associations too? and why would she sleep well to begin with and then wake so persistently the rest of the night…?

    All help is so so so valued!

    Bryony x

  36. Wonderful article! Very helpful for when we start sleep training. I have an 11 week old. My pediatrician recently suggested we start drowsy but awake. What does that look like with an 11 week old since he does not yet have soothing skills? Let him fuss for a minute or two then pick him up? Thank you!

  37. I love the article, I found it very educational. I am curious, when you choose the controlled comforting method, how long do you wait between each time you go in to comfort? I tried the pick up method but he would take forever to calm down and stop screaming, so id like to try a different approach.

    1. Hi Cora, Thanks for letting me the article helped – I typically graduate checks but 5-10-15 is a good starting point.

  38. Suggestions or support needed…18 month old twins born at 33 weeks. They sleep in the same room separate cribs. They will only nap if I drive them around. To get them to sleep at night they get a bottle and rocked to sleep. They don’t always sleep through the night but can. One has mild CP with muscular and digestive issues.It’s time to take away the bottle and for them to go to sleep on their own. And but themselves back to sleep on their own. I know one will scream and not give in. Help!

  39. Hellllo! Just wanted to send a quick Thank you for this blog post. I have successfully sleep trained my little 6M baby girl. It took a grueling 3 days, but let me tell you I feel like a whole new mama! I appreciated the actual definition that a baby should and needs to know how to fall asleep on their own. I am not expecting her to sleep through the night, that wasn’t my goal. My goal was for me to not rock her to sleep forever, and if she does wake up in the middle of the night and it’s not to nurse, that she would fall back asleep on her own. I think what helped me the most was the “controlled comforting” method. The first day and half she clearly was not liking this, but with out picking her back up I was able to pat her little bum, rub her back, and reassure her that I would be here when she wakes up, and its “nappy time”. Key words, positive comforting, and not picking her back up were what helped tremendously. I have saved so much time, and energy by not rocking her/nursing her to sleep. I have more energy today, that I even got to work out! #winning. She is on her third and final nap of the day, I put her down totally awake (using key words, and comforting) and I thought to myself, there is now way she is going to fall asleep. BUT! Behold, with in 5 minutes, no crying she soothed herself to sleep! 🙂 Thank you!

  40. I was hoping this article would offer suggestions for getting baby to sleep longer. My 9 month old has been soothing herself to sleep since she was 6/7 months old. However, most of her naps never go longer than 30 minutes. Every once in awhile I’ll get lucky with 45 minutes to an hour, but it is rare and never predictable. I am at a total loss. I have done EVERYTHING I have found on sleep training. Her room is dark, cool, and quiet (with a noise machine). She has black out shades. She has a routine that is the same for every nap and bedtime. She wears a sleep sack that is so well associated with sleep that she sucks her thumb and rubs her eyes the second she sees it. I have tried putting her down 2 hours after waking up, 3 hours after waking up, even 4 hours after waking up. Doesn’t seem to make any difference. She doesn’t wake up sleepy after a 1/2 hour. She is usually happy and talks to herself for a few minutes in her crib before crying to be rescued. I’ve tried letting her cry it out after waking after 30 minutes, but she’s not tired enough at that point to fall back asleep. I don’t nurse her to sleep. However, I do nurse her back to sleep in the middle of the night when she wakes (usually once, but sometimes twice – however, last night she was up 4 times. Something seemed off). She is sitting up independently now and is doing this when she wakes up from naps after 30 minutes. She is also starting to sit up when I put her down in bed, which results in her crying it out for 10-20 minutes before finally passing out… still only naps for 30 minutes. She goes down to sleep at 9pm and usually wakes for the day between 8-8:30am. I’m ready to accept she’s just a bad sleeper unless someone has any other suggestions…

    1. My blog is full of suggestions on how to fix sleep but in your case, I see a couple things that can be tweaked. The biggest clue is that she’s waking up so many times in the middle of the night. That’s a red flag to show me timing is off and she’s overtired. (I also know that based on she’s only sleeping 1 hour during the day and my guess is that the stretch to bedtime is wayyyyy to long.) At this point, I would recommend that you reach out to an expert because there is a lot more I would need to understand. (oh yay, I am an expert and you can work with me too! https://www.sleepbabylove.com/consult)

  41. I have 14 month old twins, as well as a 4 and a 5 year old. The twins are finally sleeping through the night (usually 7pm-5 am for one and 530/6 for the other). I feel like 5/530 is too early to be waking, but the hard part is if I let him cry, he will sometimes wake the other kids. They go to bed awake, and for the most part, have stopped waking through the night. I feel it could be possible they are over tired and waking as sometimes they only nap 1.5 hours during the day, but what do I do if we need to go to an appointment or get groceries? We go in the morning and they fall asleep in the car, if we plan for after a nap there isn’t time to get what we need done and get back in time to get my older kids from school. Do I sometimes do 2 naps if they have a broken car nap? Do I wake them from a second nap if it’s too close to bed time? So many hard choices.. also, from your article, are you saying if you want to push wake up from 5-6 am to let them cry until 6? And then I can go in and get them for the day, even if they’re still crying? Or does it ruin the point if they don’t fallback to sleep? I have tried “controlled comforting” but I feel it makes them way more upset when I leave again, so I feel I may have to go with “extinction” but that’s hard and I want to be prepared.
    Thank you for your help!

  42. Hi Susie,
    We have really been struggling with nighttime sleep with our 8 mth old daughter. She has never been a GREAT sleeper, but around 4 months it all went downhill. She typically takes a 2 hr. nap in the morning and goes down awake with no crying and then a 1-1.5 hr nap in the afternoon, again with no crying. At night I feed her a bottle and put her down by 7pm with a paci and sleepsack. She falls asleep with no crying and usually sleeps for 3-4 hrs with no issue. Then around 11pm wakes every 1-2hrs crying. Sometimes, all I have to do is put the paci in but other times we do a 5 minute, pick-up/put-down CIO method until she finally goes back to sleep. This goes on until 5am when she wants a bottle. Then she sleeps again until 7am. Any suggestions as to why she consistently wakes up all night long? We never rock her or hold her for long periods of time.
    Thank you!!

  43. Please help I have three kids my youngest and oldest sleep great go to bed on own sleep through the night but my middle son has never slept well like ever!! He is 3 and killing me with the years and nights of broken sleep I feel like I’ve tried everything and need help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top