Sleep Training FAQs
- When should I start sleep training my baby?
Sleep training can start for many babies at 3 or 4 months old, but it will depend on when they develop the ability to soothe themselves to sleep. Babies simply do not have this skill until they’re at least 3 months old. Parents will know it’s time to start sleep training when their baby can be put down and fall asleep on their own, even if they wake up several times during the night. Most babies will be able to self-soothe and be ready for sleep training sometime between 3 and 9 months of age.
- Doesn’t my baby need me at night?
A baby who can self-soothe should be able to wake up during the night, which is natural, and then put themselves back to sleep without intervention from parents. That’s what sleep training will ultimately accomplish. While there may be times, like when a baby is sick, when a parent will need to be present during the night, most babies should be able to sleep through the night without being fed or rocked back to sleep.
- Will my baby cry during sleep training?
Some sleep training methods involve tears (and even have “Cry” in the name), while other methods are designed to keep crying to a minimum. Whether or not a baby cries during the process depends on a variety of factors, including the method being used and the baby’s natural temperament.
- Will sleep training be psychologically damaging for my baby?
It’s unlikely that sleep training will have long-term psychological effects of your baby. That’s true even for methods that require parents to not respond to a baby’s cry. According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, these methods were not found to have any long-term effects on a child’s developmental outcomes.
- How long will it take to sleep train my baby?
Sleep training can often be accomplished in two to three days. However, some methods extend the process to minimize crying. A lack of consistency will also extend the process, so parents should pick a method and stick with it.
- What is the best sleep training method for my baby?
The best sleep training method will depend on a parent’s level of comfort with the process and a baby’s temperament. A child who is more independent may respond well to a method that involves minimal parental intervention, while a baby who is very attached to a parent may do better with more intervention. At the same time, parents may feel more or less comfortable hearing — and not responding to — a child’s cry and will want to choose a method accordingly.
- Does my baby need to be in their own room to sleep train?
While babies don’t need their own room to sleep train (and in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that they share a room with parents until they’re 6 months old), it can help if parents can separate themselves from their child. This is particularly true if a child is breastfeeding and is sharing a room with their mother: they’ll be much less likely to self-soothe if she’s in the room. At the very least, transitioning a child to a crib before sleep training begins will be incredibly helpful.
- Can parents share sleep training duties?
Parents can and should share sleep training duties. In fact, sleep training can often be more successful if a father takes the lead. This is why it’s imperative that parents come to an agreement on sleep training long before it’s time for the process to begin. A clear delineation of scheduling and division of labor will help.