Sleep Training Baby: Methods, Tips & When to Start

Sleep Training Baby: Methods, Tips & When to Start

If you’re dreading sleep training baby, you’re not alone!

Whether you’ve received unsolicited advice from a friend who’s convinced your little one isn’t sleeping well enough, or you’ve found yourself confused by all of the different sleep training methods, we hear you.

We’ve been there too.

So don’t worry if you’re sitting there desperately seeking some shut-eye and thinking ‘what is sleep training?’, because that’s where we come in.

We’ve put together a no-nonsense guide to all things baby sleep training - from when to start all the way to finding the perfect method for you.

Trust us, your baby will be a super sleeper before you know it.

In this article: 📝

  • What is sleep training?
  • At what age should I start sleep training my baby?
  • How do you sleep train a baby?
  • How long does it take to sleep train baby?
  • What are the types of sleep training?
  • What is the easiest way to sleep train a baby?
  • Which sleep training method works best?

What is sleep training?

Essentially, baby sleep training is a way of helping your baby learn how to fall asleep independently.

Although babies spend a lot of their time asleep, knowing when and how to sleep doesn’t actually come naturally to them.

Sleep training helps teach them to drift off without any help from you - just like how you’re able to pass out as soon as your head hits the pillow!

Is sleep training necessary?

Not always, no ‒ if you’re wondering ‘will baby learn to sleep without training?’, the answer is yes.

Every baby is different, every home is different, and every sleep pattern is different.

You may find that your baby sleeps well ‒ waking for their feedings regularly without keeping you awake at all hours.

You may even find that you’re inadvertently sleep training baby by putting them down at certain times and helping them to self-soothe, or soothing them yourself.

After all, some baby sleep training methods seem to just be setting up a good bedtime routine.

Why sleep training is bad

Well, it’s not that sleep training baby is actually bad ‒ more that different methods aren’t generally considered effective sleep training methods anymore.

Yup, we’re talking about the Cry It Out method ‒ or CIO, for short.

The Cry It Out sleep training method can be distressing for both baby and mama (and anyone else in earshot).

However, studies have shown that the CIO sleep training method had “no adverse impacts” on babies’ or mamas’ “attachment” or “behavioral development”.

At what age should I start sleep training my baby?

Okay, so if you know you want to try sleep training baby, you’ll want to know when to start sleep training.

At 4 months old babies can ‒ and should ‒ start to self-settle, aka begin to fall back to sleep by themselves, which is a good indicator that they’re ready for sleep training.

But your baby’s sleep training age is up to you.

Some experts recommend that you start at 6 months, and some parents find that they don’t need sleep training until they go through a regression at 9 months.

All babies (and parents!) are different, and that’s OK.

What is too early for sleep training?

Well, when it comes to baby sleep training, there is no “too early”.

However, most of the studies done on baby sleep training are carried out with babies 6 months old and up.

Is it OK to let newborn cry itself to sleep?

Actually, newborn babies aren’t capable of self-soothing, so it’s generally not recommended to let them cry it out or try sleep training baby this early on.

Also, crying is their only form of communication as a newborn ‒ if they want cuddles, food, changing, sleep, or anything else, crying will be their way of telling you.

Can you sleep train at 2 months?

Well, while you certainly can try sleep training a 2-month-old, you may not have much success.

This is because, as the American Academy of Pediatrics says, babies don’t have regular sleep cycles until about 6 months old.

🔎 Dig deeper: What’s the Best 2-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

Can you sleep train at 3 months?

Yes, you can start sleep training at 3 months old, although it may take quite a lot of patience.

Until 6 months, baby won’t have a regular sleep cycle, so you may find sleep training baby quite a tiresome process for now!

🔎 Dig deeper: What’s the Best 3-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

Can you sleep train during 4-month regression?

Yes, you can try sleep training at 4 months old or during a sleep regression.

However, methods like Cry It Out or the Ferber “controlled crying” sleep training method might not be all that effective at this point.

If you’re keen to try sleep training baby at 4 months, one of our no-cry sleep training methods might be better suited to baby’s current growth stage.

🔎 Dig deeper: What’s the Best 4-Month-Old Sleep Schedule?

At what age should a child fall asleep on their own?

There’s no single answer to this question ‒ sorry, mama!

Every baby is different.

While one mama may have a unicorn baby that sleeps and feeds in a way that means mama can sleep well, too, you may find yourself sleep training an 8-month-old or even sleep training a 16-month-old.

If you are sleep training a toddler, know that you’re not doing anything wrong.

Some babies just have a harder time getting to sleep and staying asleep, just the same as adults.

Can I sleep train a 2-year-old?

Keen to try sleep training toddler?

Well, it is possible!

At 2 years old, encouraging independent sleep with sleep training can be beneficial for both you and your child.

Is it too late to sleep train?

There’s no such thing as “too late” to try sleep training your baby (or toddler, or child).

Even if sleep training is simply implementing and sticking to a bedtime routine so baby can sleep by themselves, that still counts as sleep training!

How do you sleep train a baby?

It’s not recommended to start sleep training your newborn just yet ‒ they’ll need to be awake every few hours to feed, after all.

And crying is their only way to communicate, as they get used to life outside of the womb.

How can I train my baby to sleep through the night?

Well, when it comes to sleep training baby to sleep through the night, there is no single, sure-fire way that we can guarantee will work for you and your little peanut.

But we can share a few sleep training methods, hints, and tips from our veteran mamas of Peanut.

Should I leave the room when sleep training?

It’s up to you!

A few baby sleep training methods recommend leaving the room when you put baby down, leaving the room when baby falls asleep, or staying in the room with them while they sleep.

It’s up to you to find out what works best for you and baby.

How do I get my baby to sleep without being held?

[A lot of babies find themselves so calmed and soothed by being held that they fall asleep in your arms. One of our mamas’ top tips on Peanut is to put baby down just before they actually fall asleep, rather than when they fall asleep. That way, you can train them to associate sleep with their crib or bassinet, rather than in your arms.](

How long does it take to sleep train baby?

Well, how long is a piece of string? It depends on your sleep training methods and how you and baby respond to them.

Sleep training baby can take anywhere from a couple of nights to a few months.

But, on average, our mamas of Peanut tend to say about a week is when the baby sleep training starts to properly work.

Babies who fight sleep are smart: true or false?

Well, strangely enough, there may be some truth to this myth.

According to Professor Peter Fleming of the UK’s University of Bristol ‒ the same Peter Fleming who recommended putting babies to sleep on their backs to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ‒ babies who fight sleep are smarter than babies who don’t.

Apparently, there’s a link between “very high levels of developmental and intellectual achievement and not sleeping throughout the night”.

But if your baby sleeps well throughout the night, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be as smart as babies who do ‒ there are lots of other factors that can contribute.

What are the types of sleep training?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to sleep training, but there are five common baby sleep training methods that most parents use.

Whichever sleep training method you choose, the most important aspect to consider is whether you can be consistent, as you have to give it a try for a few weeks to really see results.

1. Chair method sleep training

The Chair Method is a gradual sleep training method that allows you to sit on a chair and stay in the room until your baby falls asleep.

Every few days, you move the chair a little further away from your little one as they begin to learn to fall asleep with less interaction from you.

The only things you’ll need?

A comfy chair and a lot of patience, as you’ll have to block out at least two weeks in your schedule for this one.

Your two-week plan will look a little like this: nights one to three, set up your chair right next to the crib where you’re within arm’s reach.

The rule for these first few nights is that you can only pick them up once each night to soothe, but you can use other techniques (think: shushing, or singing) to help them settle.

Once they’re fast asleep, you can leave the room.

For nights four to six, move your chair halfway to the door.

This part might be tough, but you’ve now got to refrain from picking your little one up to soothe them, but you can continue to talk to them and settle them with your voice.

When you get to nights seven to ten, move your chair to the doorway where your little one can still see you, but you’re much further away.

Use all of your soothing techniques from nights four through six and, well, you get the drill, once they’re snoozing you can head on out.

For nights 11 to 14, move your chair completely out of baby’s room and soothe them from the doorway if they fuss.

Next, congratulate yourself on (hopefully!) having a sleep-trained baby.

2. The Ferber method of sleep training

The Ferber Method is simple to follow, but some parents find it difficult as it is considered a ‘crying method’ of sleep training, which is sometimes controversial.

How does it work?

Well, after going through your usual bedtime routine, start by putting your baby in their crib when they’re drowsy, leaving the room, and setting a timer for a specific amount of time (say, a minute) before going back in and reassuring them.

Continue to leave the room and check on them, slowly increasing the amount of time between visits until you’ve reached 10-15 minutes.

When soothing your little one, try your best not to pick them up or engage too much, so they learn to self-settle.

Then, keep at it until they fall asleep!

This technique could take up to a week to work, but you should start seeing results within a few days.

3. Pick Up, Put Down sleep training

If you’d rather cuddle your little one to soothe them, this sleep training method is for you.

Pick up, put down involves holding your child as they cry and placing them back in their crib once they’ve calmed down, continuing the cycle until they’re fast asleep.

Essentially, your job is to calm them down so that they can do their job of falling asleep!

Although relatively simple, this sleep training technique only suits babies that are younger than seven months, because they’re less stimulated by your presence.

Should I pick baby up when sleep training?

If you’re adopting the ‘Pick Up, Put Down’ sleep training method, then picking baby up to soothe is an important part of the sleep training process.

However, other baby sleep training methods may recommend not picking up baby, even when they cry.

4. Fade Away sleep training

The fading technique is known as the no-cry sleep training method ‒ and it’s probably what you’re doing already!

If you’re keen to try sleep training without crying, all you need to do for this sleep training method is continue using your favorite tips and tricks to help your baby fall asleep, whether that’s nursing, singing, or rocking ‒ whatever works for you and your little peanut.

Then, you begin decreasing the amount of time you spend doing this until, in theory, you don’t need to do it at all.

5. Cry It Out sleep training

The infamous Cry It Out (or CIO) sleep training method is essentially an extreme version of the Ferber method we mentioned earlier.

With this technique, you try to stop baby crying, and encourage them to self-soothe by trying your hardest not to respond to them.

Begin by going through your bedtime routine, put them in the crib while they’re drowsy, say goodnight, and walk away.

When they fuss, instead of coming in and soothing them you’re meant to leave them to learn to soothe and fall asleep independently.

This slightly controversial method might leave you hesitant (no one likes to hear their little one cry!) but if your baby is no longer needing a night feed and you’re desperately seeking some shut-eye, it might be worth giving it a go for a few nights.

At what age can you let a baby cry it out?

Well, for a few months, crying is baby’s only form of communication ‒ that’s how they tell you when they’re hungry, sleepy, need changing, or need attention.

That’s why it’s generally recommended to only try the Cry It Out or Ferber sleep training methods when baby’s 6 months old and is better learning how to communicate with you.

How long do babies usually cry when sleep training?

So, with the Cry It Out method, how long is “too long” for baby to cry?

Well, it depends on how long their scheduled sleep is meant to be ‒ for shorter naps, about 5-10 minutes is the maximum that baby should cry before being soothed.

And for longer sleeps, about 20 minutes for a cry is considered the higher end of baby crying for the CIO sleep training method.

Does the Cry It Out method work?

For some babies, yes. For others, no.

There’s no one sleep training method that works for all babies.

Find one that works for you and baby ‒ if you want a no-cry sleep training method, opt for the Pick Up, Put Down or Fade Away methods.

Is it OK to let baby cry for sleep training?

Well, the Cry It Out method of sleep training is pretty controversial, but in the end, it’s up to you what you’re comfortable with.

There is no one way to do this parenting thing, mama.

What is the easiest way to sleep train a baby?

Well, what’s an easy sleep training method for one baby may not be easy for another.

While some mamas on Peanut swear by the Cry It Out method, other mamas are adamant that the Chair or Fade Away methods are much simpler and easier for their babies.

Which sleep training method works best?

Let’s be honest, there is no magical baby sleep training method that will solve all of your sleeping woes instantly.

No matter how many times your mom, best friend, or distant relative say there is, there isn’t!

Not everything works for every child, so it’s important you decide which technique you’re most comfortable with, and try it out for as long as you can.

If, after that, you’re still struggling, reach out to the community on Peanut for help, or check in with an infant sleep specialist for more guidance.

Ultimately, trust your gut as you know your little one best.

You’ve got this.

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