During the first year of their life, sleep plays a huge role in the health and wellness of your baby. They need 9-12 hours of sleep a night, plus regular naps throughout the day! So why is the whole family so exhausted?
While that’s a lot of sleep, babies aren’t always great at taking it all at once – instead, sleep often comes in short, intermittent bursts, leaving parents feeling tired and drained. So you’ve decided to try sleep training! You’ve done the research, read the books, and want to make sure you start as soon as possible. But that leaves the question, when are babies ready for sleep training (also known as sleep coaching)?
When to Start Sleep Training or Coaching
Sleep training or sleep coaching is the act of teaching your child to independently fall and stay asleep, as well as how to self-soothe when they do wake up. Technically, babies aren’t ready for sleep training until they’re at least 4 months old when they are physically capable of learning how to self-soothe. However, you can start laying the groundwork before that!
From the beginning, you’ll want to work with routines as much as possible! Try to start bedtime at the same time every night, and build a consistent routine – take a bath, have a cuddle, read a story, and so on. You can also build an ideal bedtime environment. Try blackout curtains, sound machines, and comfortable temperatures to make your baby as comfortable as possible.
By doing these things ahead of time, they will start to trigger sleepy feelings in your little one. They’ll know that bath time and the dark room mean it’s time to sleep, and it will help set the stage for sleep training at four months old!
While all babies are different and you should always consult your healthcare provider when making changes for your family, at 4 months, babies have a larger stomach and have the ability to keep a full stomach for longer periods at night. That age isn’t set in stone, however! Some babies have better luck waiting to start sleep training at 6 months or even 9 months – it depends entirely on you and your family’s needs.
Tips for Sleep Training
While sleep training isn’t always an easy or quick process, here are some tips to help you throughout the process!
- Notice your baby’s signs. You’ve probably already noticed your baby’s sleepy tells – rubbing their eyes, fussy behavior, etc. This is the time you want to try putting them down, while they’re drowsy but still awake. This will help them build the habit of putting themselves to sleep.
- Keep a sleep log. Similar to watching your baby’s natural tells, keeping a sleep log a few weeks before starting will help you better understand timing routines!
- Split up. Sleeping in separate rooms will help your baby get used to sleeping independently and without you. If your baby sees you while he is trying to self-soothe and fall back to sleep, this will make him more upset.
- Understand it won’t always be easy. Unfortunately, rough nights are going to be a part of the process! Don’t let it derail you – take a deep breath and start again the next day. Our online class, Sleep Coaching 101: Healthy and Safe Sleep Habits, will walk you through each step and help you reach success in under 2 weeks (based on your child’s temperament).
- Timing is key. Make sure you don’t start sleep training during a hectic time – a move, vacation, illness, etc. This only sets you both up for failure! Instead, choose a quiet, normal time to start the sleep training process.
- Stay consistent. This is sometimes the hardest for parents – even when things get rocky or don’t seem to be working, by staying consistent, you’re reinforcing that sleep schedule.
- Remember the goal. One day, your little one will sleep on their own! When you’re having a rough night or feeling especially frustrated, just remember that it will happen eventually.
Sleep Training Conclusion
Sleep training can be a lifesaver for parents missing sleep, but there are other benefits to it as well! Studies have found long term benefits such as improved learning skills, emotional and linguistic improvement, and better moods! Additionally, sleep training can grow with your family – as your little one gets older, you may find yourselves needing a new routine! During these changes, going back to sleep training can make things go much smoother.
Set up a sleep consultation with our certified sleep consultants or even take our online Sleep Coaching class to learn our very own Controlled & Compassionate Sleep Coaching Method, which reaches success in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of crying.