Here you will find the basic bare bones information on baby sleep training that’ll help you take baby from NO sleeping to “sleeping like a baby.” Baby sleep is tough, but you and baby can get there.
Apparently baby feeding habits are compared to fishes.
One of mine was what they called a “barracuda”… he’d circle around and around and finally latch on and feed. It took a bit of time.
Know how babies take a few months to learn to walk? From rocking, to commando crawling, to crawling, to pushing up, to scooting, to WALKING.
Life skills are not automatic.
Even things our body will naturally do take learning and practice. Babies must practice using a spoon or eating solids. They babble before they talk and don’t get me started about reading… that life skill takes a while too.
So what is my point?
My point is I’m sick to death of strung out mothers who are actually literally crazy from so many frequent night wakings being given a guilt trip for wanting to try sleep training.
One of my dearest friends was rocked to sleep until she was nine years old.
To this day, she suffers from sleep issues and at times insomnia.
Sleeping is not a joke. Wanting to teach your baby to sleep is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s development and mood.
And it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself because you will cease to function as a person if you are perpetually exhausted.
Sleep – like food – is a need.
Something I hear often is that parents don’t want to sleep train because baby might cry and my response is usually: isn’t baby already crying and overtired and miserable?
If not… you wouldn’t be here!
But the good news is this: often baby will simply learn to sleep without fussing and crying.
And it doesn’t have to take months. Or even weeks. Often, it’s just days.
The No-Fuss Guide To Sleep Training
Sleep training doesn’t have to be awful.
In fact, it’s one of those things that seems like a better and better and better idea the more you get into it. All of a sudden, baby is sleeping! Mama is sleeping! Baby wakes up happy! Mama wakes up happy!
I’m not making this stuff up.
So let’s get into it… the no-fuss guide to sleep training.
One of the biggest issues moms and babies are having with sleep is this: they think “getting baby tired” will help them sleep.
Wrong on all counts.
When a baby is tired – or overtired – they have trouble sleeping. Then, if they do conk out quickly, they’ll have trouble transitioning through sleep cycles and staying asleep.
Result: poor frantic sleep.
The best thing to do is put baby to bed before they’re overtired. Even if they have to lie in bed for a few minutes settling down staring off at the wall.
This is much better than trying to get a screaming exhausted baby to sleep. If your baby has witching hours, definitely pay attention to this.
Get A Routine, Stat!
The best way to have a happy baby who eats and rests well is to have a routine.
Good luck trying to find some type of research that backs up the idea that lack of routine is better. You don’t have to be ruled by a clock, but babies do need predictable rhythms that help them settle into a routine.
Here are some things that should be happening with regularly and predictability in your baby’s life.
You will be 100% in love with the benefits of routine, even if you are not naturally a routine oriented person.
It is simply night and day.
- Wake up time | Yes, you can basically set your baby’s wake up time because they will simply get used to it and wake up hungry at the time you normally feed them.
- Feeding times | Of course, you always feed a hungry baby. The key is to feed baby regularly so that baby will not have to cry to be fed. By feeding baby at routine times they will simply wake up and be ready to feed then. (It’s like when you used to get hungry at noon because that was when you had lunch break!)
- Nap times | Within reason, put your baby down for naps at regular times. They’ll get tired at these times and then sleep longer because of it.
- Bed time | Choose a bedtime that makes sense for your family and doesn’t leave baby overtired. Then keep it consistent.
- The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week By Week
- A Newborn Routine That Works Every Time
- 35+ Printable Routines (for babies aged 6 weeks to 5 years)
Swaddle If You Can
If you are at the hospital right now with your newborn baby… Do Not Stop Swaddling.
Everyone else, if baby will be swaddled and not scream bloody murder about it: keep swaddling until baby can roll over.
Swaddling is a great sleep association and helps baby feel the snugness they were used to when inside the womb. Swaddling baby as part of a wind-down routine goes a long way towards helping baby settle into a nice nap or evening rest.
I personally like swaddles that open at the bottom so – at night – you can change baby’s diaper without fully opening the swaddle. That way you’re creating this association.
Also, if your baby is under the 3 month mark swaddling will prevent the startle reflex from waking your baby right out of a deep sleep.
This is important if you’re trying to help baby sleep longer stretches or power through a sleep regression.
Don’t Wait For Cues, Lead The Way
I’ve had 5 babies and they rarely cried at all that first year.
This is not because I am a baby whisperer (or maybe I am) but because I met their needs in such a way they didn’t need to cry to get what they wanted.
I anticipated their needs before they were forced to cry out.
➡️ Many people say that routines and schedules and “sleep training” are bad for baby because you don’t go with baby’s flow… but to that I say… um no.
When you create a flow that meets all of babies needs in a timely and loving manner, you end up with a happy baby who basically never cries because… there’s simply no reason to.
Rule Out The Outliers
If you’ve already got a baby who isn’t sleeping well, or you want to buckle down and do some serious sleep training, first you’ll want to make sure nothing else is going on to cause baby discomfort.
Here are some things that screw up baby’s sleep:
- Hunger | If milk supply is low or baby isn’t having enough solids (or is ready to have solids but isn’t having any) they simply won’t sleep well. The End.
- Teething | This causes pain for little ones and you can’t begin sleep training when they’re in pain. In fact, teething can even put a kink in babies who have previously been sleeping well.
- Ear aches or other illnesses | If baby is sick they won’t sleep well. If their throat hurts, they won’t sleep well. If their tummy hurts they won’t sleep well.
Before I’d even suggest beginning to sleep train I’d rule out the issues above so you can go forth confidently knowing that sleep training will be a gift for your child.
Bedtime Routine: Focus On It!
Bedtime is a vulnerable time for baby.
That’s why it’s so important to create a baby bedtime routine that helps babies feel safe, loved, and physically ready for sleep.
You want to choose a time that allows you ample bonding and calm down time, but that isn’t so late baby gets overtired.
We already covered this, but it’s so important I want to say it again: bedtime does need to be so late baby is exhausted.
Here is a guide to optimal baby sleep times if you need it.
- Choose a few things to do with baby that help calm them down.
- Lights low, away from crazy hustle and bustle of family life
- Put in positive sleep associations, NOT sleep props (read more on that below)
Cluster If You Must
The best way to make sure baby sleeps longer stretches at night is to make sure they’ve had lots of milk (and/or solids) during the day.
If you’ve gotta cluster feed for the few hours before bedtime, go for it. Babies will keep waking up at night to feed if they don’t get enough milk during the day.
That’s just the way it is. If you find baby seems to wake up seriously hungry in the night, try adding in a few cluster feeds just before bed to help baby sleep a longer stretch.
The key to cluster feeding is to do it during the day, NOT at night!
If you’re feeding your baby every hour or two at night then you’re cluster feeding at night. Start doing it during the day and baby will sleep longer stretches.
Avoid Sleep Props
The crux of sleep training really is this: removing sleep props so baby can go to sleep (and stay asleep) on his or her own.
That’s really what it boils down to. Setting the scene so baby doesn’t need you to jump through hoops and sit them on top of the dryer so they can be tricked into sleeping then – only to find – in 45 minutes you’ve gotta do it again.
It’s easy enough to get into a situation like that, and it’ll require some work to get out of it.
The only real way to get rid of sleep props is to replace them with sleep associations. I talk about that at length in my free series on the 3 biggest reasons baby struggle with sleep and how to fix them. So take this if that’s where you’re at.
So if you’re a mama ready for sleep training…
I want to encourage you.
You may be a tired exhausted mama right now.
You may feel like there’s no way your baby is going to be able to take good naps, nevermind sleeping all night.
And I want to tell you that is just not true. Babies were made to sleep and – when you’ve helped teach them how – they will simply do it.
You don’t have to sit up all night in a chair with them.
You don’t have to feed them every hour on the hour all night.
You simply have to set them up for success by helping them learn healthy sleep habits.
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- fighting sleep to embracing it
- night wakings to sleeping through
- needing you to jump through hoops to going to sleep on their own
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