Figuring out the right time to sleep train is dependent upon a few factors including your baby’s development, current state of sleep, feeding patterns, if you are approaching or already experiencing one of the major sleep regressions (such as the 4 month sleep regression or 8 month sleep regression,) your family’s daily routine, and current schedule. There are signs your baby may be ready to sleep train; signals they are ready to sleep through the night without any night feedings or waking, but there are also signs they may not be quite ready – even if you are. Both need to be taken into consideration.
Here are several factors to consider if you think your baby is ready, or you’re ready to sleep train. Just remember, as a parent, no one knows your baby and their needs better than you. Only you can decide when it’s the right time to jump into sleep training and what approach to help him sleep through the night, will be best.
5 Signs Your Baby is Ready for Sleep Training
Your Baby’s Physical & Cognitive Development
Typically, newborn bodies require 16 or more hours of sleep each day (here is a chart of recommended daily sleep based on age). When they’re new, babies will sleep in blocks of time versus a full night’s sleep because their rapid growth in instinctual need to eat trumps a sleep schedule.
Overtime your baby will begin to naturally form a sleep schedule and begin to stop confusing daytime sleep with nighttime and sleep patterns will emerge. Gradually your baby will then begin to stretch out their nighttime sleep from 2, to 4 and even 6 hours (or longer if you’re one of the lucky ones) between feedings.
When your baby can go for a long stretch of uninterrupted time – more than six hours – then it shows they are eating enough during the day to make it longer without a nighttime feeding and could be ready to sleep train.
Signs your baby is ready to sleep through the night based on development:
- Increases feeding amounts and is progressively gaining weight – both are necessary to sleeping for long periods of time.
- Cuts out a feeding or two during the night on their own.
- Moro reflex decreases. This is the startle reflect which causes your baby’s limps to jerk in response to environmental triggers like loud noise, a dream or sudden movements. Using a swaddle can help with the startle reflex, keeping her arms from flailing and waking her up, however the Moro reflex usually disappear by the age of 4 months.
Here are helpful tips to gently teach your baby to sleep through the night.
Your Baby Has the Ability Self-Soothe
Most experts agree that a 6-month old is capable of self-soothing, and if they’re aren’t already, are able to learn how to do this. However, it’s always important to account for your baby’s temperament because as the parent, you know your child best. While some babies can self-soothe at 6 months, others may wait until the 12-month mark.
Signs your baby is ready to sleep through the night based on self-soothing ability:
- Can self-soothe (pacifier, sucking on fingers or hand) and get back to sleep if she wakes up in the night or early from a nap.
- You know your baby best, are they already self-soothing or capable at this point to learn? Keep in mind you can always start sleep training and take a break and try again later if you’re finding they aren’t responding in a positive way.
Sleep Aids Are A Crutch & No Longer Needed
Most people will choose something that’s easy to obtain over something that’s hard when they’ve given the chance. A sleep aid, or crutch, makes your baby feel good. An example may be given the choice between rocking in Mom’s arms or putting oneself back to sleep when they’ve woken up in the middle of the night, chances are pretty great baby will choose Mom’s warm warms.
They may want Mom’s comfort, although they may be big enough to not need it, and this is where a sleep aid becomes a tricky slope with sleeping through the night.
Examples of sleep aids can be nursing your baby to sleep, rocking your baby to sleep, going into their room at the first sound to check on them instead of letting them attempt to self-soothe.
These things feel good and a baby will instinctively learn to cry out for them because they WANT them, although don’t necessarily NEED them. There will come a time when you begin to question if your baby really needs what you’re providing, or if they just want it because it’s all they’ve known.
You may be tired from rocking your baby through the night, or ready to sleep through the night yourself, but first you have to make the distinction of wants and needs with your baby to sort through their ability to sleep without a sleep aid.
The Timing Is Right For Your Family to Start Sleep Training
Timing is everything when it comes to sleep training because it’s a commitment your entire family will undertake. There is no exact timetable for how long sleep training will take as each child and each home is different, but committing to sticking to a routine each day and a method at night is important to your baby’s success at sleep training.
My daughter took days to sleep train, my son took a bit longer, and I started and stopped sleep training twice with my youngest daughter before she was finally ready. Each situation and each baby is unique and you must have patience because results aren’t always overnight. Most sleep training takes between one and two weeks depending on readiness and the method you choose to sleep train with.
No matter what method of sleep training you chose, there are going to be hard, uncomfortable and frustrating moments. Are you ready for some rough days and nights ahead?
Find a time where you can sleep train without many distractions, events and visitors who can interrupt the process. Keeping a daily routine and strict bedtime is important to your child’s readiness and body’s willingness to sleep through the night. I recommend blocking out two weeks where you can solidly commit to sleep training without distractions, commitments and interruptions.
Download Your Routine Tracker – The Starting Place for Creating a Better Routine and Great Sleep Habits
YOU Are Ready to Sleep Train
It could be you’re tired of waking up several times a night to rock the baby back to sleep or put in a fallen pacifier, or you’re getting up to go to work exhausted before the day has even begun. Sleep deprivation can affect many areas of your life, including work and health and if your baby is old enough and ready, sleep training may be a good next step for everyone in your family.
Additional Information on This Topic
- Printable Schedules & Routine eBook (including 40 sample routines for 8-weeks-old to 5-years-old)
- Expert Tips to Surviving the 8 Month Sleep Regression
- Signs It’s Time to Move to One Nap a Day: How to Master the Nap Transition
- Scared of the Dark: How to Conquer Nighttime Fears
- Making the Transition to a Big Kid Bed
- How to Ease Separation Anxiety in Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers
- 8 Common Toddler Sleep Problems & How to Handle Them
- 7 Ways to Beat Bedtime Stalling with Young Kids
- Is Your Kid Waking Up Too Early? How to Fix It
- 10 Helpful Ways to Calm the Kid Who Fights Bedtime
- Toddler Sleep Regressions: What You Need to Know About Your Two Year Old’s Sleep
- How to Establish a Peaceful Bedtime Routine for Your Baby
- How to Survive the 18 Month Sleep Regression & 2 Year Sleep Regressions
- Comprehensive Sleep Charts & Sleep Guidelines for Infants Through Adolescents
- The Benefits of Having a Daily Routine
- Create an Awesome Routine for Better Sleep Habits