Your baby is fussy, your nights are disrupted and you both wake up cranky the next day. Though parents of babies expect to lose a little shut-eye, there are still ways you can help your infant sleep soundly. Baby sleep training benefits the entire family and ensures that everyone is well rested and able to function productively. But, as with most things, timing is everything! How do you know when to begin?
When Do You Train Your Baby to Sleep?
Jennifer Schindele, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and owner of Gift of Sleep Consulting, says that “newborns are not meant to sleep long stretches without nourishment, so the expectation of sleeping through the night before 12 weeks is not a realistic one.” Though he won’t sleep through the night for a while, you can still start establishing a sleep routine for your new baby now.
“Newborns are capable of going to sleep on their own, as long as you set the right environment, routine and timings,” says Visa Shanmugam, a certified Sleep Sense consultant and owner of Sound Sleepers. The biggest tip for initiating sleep training routines during the newborn stage, she says, is to avoid nursing your baby to sleep. Instead, wake her up before putting her to down to sleep. “It sounds crazy, but babies will quickly learn that sleep is independent of feeding,” she notes, and that the two are not dependent on each other.
According to Schindele, sleep training is about your baby learning to transition “from one sleep cycle to the next without fully waking.” Once you choose your method and begin baby sleep training, consistency and patience are key, both consultants say. They suggest that you allow about two weeks for your baby to adjust and settle into her new routine, but you’ll likely see progress within three to four days.
Schindele says she has found that “babies are able to sleep through the night (12 hours) without a feed somewhere between 4 to 6 months of age.” At this stage, babies “can begin to learn the vital skill of self-soothing to sleep for nighttime and daytime naps,” she says.