When and How to Sleep Train Your Baby

sleep training baby

Are you tired of not getting a full night’s sleep? If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night, doesn’t sleep deeply enough, or wakes up frequently during the day and keeps you up at night, then it’s time to do sleep training. 

This blog explains sleep training and when and how to train a baby. Several sleep training methods exist. We will help you find the most effective ways to teach your child how to sleep on their own.


What is Sleep Training for Babies?

Sleep is a vital part of infant development and growth. Getting enough sleep can also improve your baby’s mood and behavior and reduce the risk of obesity in the future. As a parent, you must ensure that your baby gets adequate sleep by creating a conducive sleeping environment and developing good sleeping habits and routines for nighttime.

An effective way to accomplish this is through sleep training your baby. Sleep training is the process of helping babies drift off to sleep on their own and stay asleep all night long—without needing assistance from their parents. The idea behind sleep training is that babies will eventually learn how to fall asleep on their own once they realize that they aren’t going to get any attention when they cry. 


Why Do Parents Use Sleep Training?

Parents who sleep train often feel guilty for not responding to their baby’s crying, which is a normal and understandable reaction. However, sleep training has many advantages for babies and parents alike. Sleep training your baby can result in many benefits, including:


Better Rest for You

Successful sleep training helps babies fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and get a better night’s rest. When you have a baby who sleeps through the night, you get more rest, which means you’ll be able to put more energy into other areas of your life. This change improves the quality of life for everyone in the family!


Longer Sleep for Babies

Babies who are left to cry alone at nap time or bedtime may fall asleep faster. Moreover, they stay asleep longer than those picked up immediately after waking up. According to studies, babies who have been taught how to go to sleep independently tend to sleep better than babies who don’t have this skill.


Happier and Healthier Baby

Sleep is vital to short-term and long-term health in children, so they must get enough sleep each night. Moreover, babies who don’t get enough sleep can be cranky and irritable all day, making them more challenging to deal with. They also have a harder time learning new things and developing their motor skills than they would if they were well-rested.


When to Start Sleep Training

Sleep training should start around the age of 4 to 6 months. This is when babies are still developing their circadian rhythm or internal clock. A baby’s circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep-wake cycles, establishes itself between 2 and 4 months of age. So, if you wait too long, your baby may find it more challenging to learn how to fall asleep independently. In addition, doctors advise waiting until your baby weighs 12 pounds or more. When a baby is under 12 pounds, they may still require night feeding, which is a crucial part of their nutritional needs.


How to Sleep Train a Baby

Sleep training can be done in a number of different ways, and there are varying opinions on what is best. Explore the most common sleep training methods below:


Crying it out 

Also known as extinction, this method involves letting your baby cry until they fall asleep independently — without you responding at all. It can be difficult because some babies may cry for hours before falling asleep on their own, but it can be effective if done consistently over time. Consult your pediatrician before starting the crying-out method if your baby has specific health or feeding requirements.


Ferber Method

The Ferber method may be preferable to parents who find the “crying it out” method difficult to implement or too harsh. Also called graduated extinction, this method lets your baby cry as they fall asleep, much like the CIO method. 

Rather than leaving your baby to cry the whole night, you can comfort them by patting their back and whispering soothing words. The method involves checking in with your crying infant at timed intervals, say every five, ten, or fifteen minutes. Each night, extend the period between check-ins.


Bedtime Fading

Bedtime fading involves gradually moving bedtime earlier and earlier over a period of days or weeks until the child has learned to fall asleep by himself. This method can be very effective, but it takes up to six weeks or more if you’re doing it right. The key is to move bedtime later each night by just 15 minutes or so until your child learns how to put himself to sleep.


Camping Out

This method involves staying in the baby’s room in response to crying, speaking sparingly, and not picking up the baby. To soothe your baby, you sit on a chair or a mattress next to their crib. Your presence in the room helps soothe the baby and eventually makes the baby fall asleep. Remember to progressively reduce your time with them until they fall asleep without your presence.


Tips to Make Baby Sleep Training More Effective

Sleep training for a newborn can be challenging. Follow these tips to help make your baby’s sleep training more effective.

  • Give your baby a consistent bedtime routine (bath, book, and songs). This routine will help your baby know what’s coming next and make it easier for them to fall asleep when the time comes. 
  • Take your time with it. Get support from family and friends, especially in the first few days after beginning the process.
  • Be patient with yourself. Take it one step at a time, and don’t get discouraged if things don’t go as planned right away. This process is about learning what works best for your baby, so be open to changing things up if necessary. 
  • Don’t start too late. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for your baby to adjust to his new schedule.
  • It is also vital to consider naptime when training your baby, as daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. Creating a routine for naps is also helpful.
  • Make sure the room is dark, cool, and quiet before you put them down in their crib or bassinet. Be sure no bright lights or sounds are coming from other rooms that might distract them while trying to fall asleep! Put your child down drowsy but awake. 


Help Your Infant Adapt to a Good Nighttime Routine! 

The bottom line is that there are numerous ways to help your baby sleep throughout the night. You should choose the one that best fits your parenting style. Sleep training is not an easy process, but it can be done. 

When you’re ready to start this process, talk to our doctors at Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno. We will advise you on the best approach to sleep training your baby based on their needs. Once you have your routine in place, you can work to smooth out the transitions between bedtime and the various other parts of the day that feed into it. 

For consultations, book an appointment online or call us at (559) 455-1500. We also offer telemedicine

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