what is sleep training

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “What on earth is sleep training?” 

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! Today, let’s chat about it in plain mom language. 

We’ll cover the basics, talk about the good and not-so-good stuff, and share some popular methods and books. 

Let’s start

What is sleep training?

Sleep training is a way to teach your child to sleep by themselves and go back to sleep if they wake up at night. It helps them become independent sleepers.

It’s not an overnight switch but more like a gradual training process. Various sleep training methods exist because every child is unique. Different babies respond differently to distinct methods.

What is sleep training for newborns?

There is no such thing that is called sleep training for newborns as you cannot do it (and you shouldn’t try it). 

Sleep training for newborns is a bit like trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle – it just doesn’t work.

Newborns are brand new to the world, and their tiny bodies and brains are still getting the hang of things. 

Their sleep cycles are all over the place, and they haven’t quite figured out the difference between day and night. 

So, expecting them to follow a sleep training routine is like asking a baby bird to run a marathon—it’s just not in their nature.

Newborns need to eat frequently, and their little tummies can’t hold much, which means they wake up often.

This is normal and necessary for their growth and development. So, when it comes to newborns, forget the sleep training manual—it’s all about responding to their needs and giving them the comfort and care they require during this early stage. 

As they grow, their sleep patterns will naturally evolve, and that’s when sleep training can come into play. 

Until then, enjoy those cuddles and sleep whenever you can!

newborn sleeping

Pros and cons of sleep training:

Pros:

  • Better Sleep for Everyone: Sleep training can lead to more consistent and longer sleep for both babies and parents.
  • Independence: Teaches babies to fall asleep on their own, promoting self-soothing skills.
  • Routine and Predictability: Establishing a bedtime routine helps create a predictable sleep schedule.
  • Parental Well-being: Improved sleep for parents can positively impact their physical and mental well-being.

Cons:

  • Crying: Some methods involve leaving the baby to cry, which can be emotionally challenging for parents.
  • Not Suitable for Every Child: Each baby is different; what works for one may not work for another.
  • Timing Matters: Experts suggest waiting until a certain age to start sleep training, and some parents may find this challenging.
  • Short-term Challenges: Initially, sleep training may result in increased fussiness or resistance.

Does it actually work?

Whether sleep training works depends on the method you choose and what clicks with your baby. 

It’s like trying on different shoes to find the comfiest pair—what fits one might not fit another.

Most babies respond well to sleep training if you stick with it consistently. It’s a bit like practicing a new dance move; the more you do it, the smoother it gets. 

So, if you find an approach that suits your little one and stay consistent with it, chances are good that you’ll see positive changes in their sleep habits.

 It’s all about finding the rhythm that works for your baby and sticking with it! 💤

What is the best age to start sleep training?

Around 6 months, babies often start to establish a more regular sleep-wake cycle, and they may be developmentally ready to learn how to fall asleep on their own. This is often the best time to start sleep training. 

This is also a time when sleep patterns become more consolidated, and babies are less likely to wake up for nighttime feedings out of pure hunger.

However, it’s essential to note that every baby is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some babies might be ready a bit earlier or later. 

It’s crucial to pay attention to your baby’s cues, readiness, and overall development. 

Additionally, always consult with your pediatrician before starting any sleep training to ensure it aligns with your baby’s individual needs and health considerations. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

How many methods are there?

When it comes to sleep training, it’s like having a buffet of options—you’ve got choices! 

Various methods cater to different parenting styles and baby temperaments. 

There’s the “Ferber Method,” where you gradually increase the time between checking on your baby when they cry. 

The “Chair Method” involves sitting by your baby’s crib and slowly moving farther away over time. 

“Cry It Out” is a method where you allow your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.

Then, there’s the “No Tears” or “Fading Method,” emphasizing a gentler approach by gradually reducing your involvement in your baby’s sleep routine. 

“Extinction Method” involves letting your baby cry until they fall asleep without intervention. Each method comes with its own set of principles, so it’s like choosing the best bedtime recipe for your little one. 

Remember, the key is finding what aligns with your parenting style and feels right for your baby. Sweet dreams await!

My two most favorite methods are the Ferber method and the Chair method.

a 6 month old sleep training

The books I recommend

Oh, let me tell you about my absolute favorite go-to guide for navigating the mysterious world of baby sleep – “Precious Little Sleep: The Complete Baby Sleep Guide for Modern Parents.” It’s like a sleep gem in book form! 

Written by Alexis Dubief, a mom who’s been through the sleep struggle trenches herself, this book feels like a trusted friend giving you the lowdown on all things baby sleep. 

Alexis blends her personal experience with solid research and a good dose of humor, making it a breeze to read, even in those sleep-deprived moments.

The main goal of “Precious Little Sleep” is to empower parents with practical advice and evidence-based strategies to tackle sleep challenges. 

From decoding your baby’s sleep cues to navigating sleep regressions and mastering sleep training, this book covers it all. It’s like having a sleep expert on speed dial, but way more convenient.

So, if you’re in need of a sanity-saving, sleep-transforming resource, “Precious Little Sleep” is your sleep bible. Trust me, I’ve been there, and this book is a game-changer! 

Another good book to read is Baby Sleep Training by Brianne. It’s also worth reading to understand baby sleep training. 

Alternatives of traditional methods:

For parents who may be hesitant about traditional sleep training methods, there are alternative paths to help your little one snooze peacefully. 

One approach is to establish a consistent sleep routine, syncing your child’s internal clock by putting them down at the same time each day. 

Simple tools and tweaks in the sleep environment, like creating a calming atmosphere or adjusting lighting, can work wonders.

If you’re eager to explore these natural alternatives further, check out my other blog posts for some sleep magic: 

“10+ Natural Alternatives To Sleep Training That Are Magic”
and 
“8 Must-Have Things To Help Your Baby Sleep Peacefully.” 

There’s a whole world of gentle methods and helpful tools waiting for you and your little dreamer. Sweet dreams ahead!

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