How to sleep train a baby in 6 easy steps

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My daughter has always been a great sleeper. Because of her, never in a million years did I think I’d ever have to learn how to sleep train a baby.

Warning: If learning how to sleep train a baby is something that you’re totally against, please move on from this post.

A no-frills guide on how to sleep train a baby

Of course I love my baby and wouldn’t trade him for the world but sis, the child did not sleep. Let me clarify, my sweet boy could not fall asleep without being on or near me.

It was only cute for a couple of days before it wore me down. Samaiya was 15 months old when Xavier was born.

I just got done being pregnant for nearly an entire year, I had to manage my home, be a wife, and I had to keep my toddler entertained.

Oh and did I mention that I was also exclusively breastfeeding him? So yeah, those of you who understand, know what I’m talking about.

I.was.exhausted.

Jason tried to step in but nope! My son only wanted me and I felt obligated to always be there.

Whenever he made a sound I ran over to him, whenever he cried I picked him up. I held him all day, I let him fall asleep on my lap every night and I co-slept with him as well.

It’s no wonder he didn’t want to do any of that without me! This created some big issues during bed time because of course, he couldn’t fall asleep on his own.

After 3 months of being sleep deprived and worn out and borderline depressed, Jason and I decided that enough was enough. We decided that we were going to sleep train our son.

It was the best decision ever. Today Xavier is 15 months old and sleeps 12 hours every single night along with his sister.

If you’re totally exhausted and ready for your baby to sleep so you too can catch some zzz’s, this post on how to sleep train a baby is for you.

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How to sleep train a baby in 6 easy steps

1) Pick your sleep training method:

*Note 1: Baby should always be changed, fed, and healthy during sleep training. If baby is sick, pause and resume training when he’s feeling better
*Note 2: Most experts recommend starting when your baby is between 4 and 6 months old.

  • Fading: This method of sleep training is the gentlest. It requires you to help your baby fall asleep, but gradually reduce your efforts until baby is able to sleep on his or her own.
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  • Pick-Up/Put-Down: This method requires you to pick up your baby when he’s crying, and only putting him down once he’s calm and sleepy.
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  • The Chair Method: With this method, you start off sitting as close to where baby is sleeping as possible and only leaving the room when baby is asleep.
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    When baby cries, you go back and sit. Over time, the goal is to gradually sit further away from your baby until he or she is able to sleep on their own
    .
  • Controlled Crying/Ferber/Graduated Extinction: This is the method we chose. We started when he was 3 months old. When he cried, we waited a couple of minutes before going in to comfort him (usually 2-3 minutes).
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    We usually comforted him by patting him on the back and speaking to him softly so that he could calm down and feel safe. Once baby was on his way to being calm, we left the room.
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    This method of sleep training allows you to comfort your baby in short periods of time, and also teach your little one how to sleep independently.
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    The goal is to comfort baby for short periods of time and allowing them to fall asleep on their own. And even though you might already know this, let me remind you: letting your baby cry for a couple of minutes at a time for the purpose of sleep training isn’t abuse and it doesn’t make you evil. And no, little Emma won’t hate you forever. πŸ˜‘
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  • Extinction/Cry-It-Out: The most controversial sleep training method of all time. Cry it out basically speaks for itself. If your baby cries during bedtime hours, you let you let them cry without checking on them.
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    This supposedly teaches babies that they’re basically on their own and that they should lull themselves back to sleep on their own no matter how long it takes.
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    This is not something I’d ever suggest or do myself because I can’t imagine leaving nor can I stand to hear my baby to cry all night long but to each their own.

2) Create a bedtime routine

Establishing a routine is key. I truly believe that children thrive and learn better when they have a set routine. Ours consisted of a warm bath, breastfeeding, prayers, and lights out. Pick a routine that you can easily stick to.

PS: If you’re struggling with breastfeeding and/or pumping, you need to check out these 2 courses created by a mama of 3 who also happens to be a Certified Lactation Educator: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class or the The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class.

Who would want to make an appointment and pack up a baby to go see a lactation consultant when you can access these courses 24/7 right from the comfort of your own home?! πŸ˜Ž

3) Create an environment that is conducive to sleep

I like to keep things simple. Lights off, comfortable room temperature, and a swaddle blanket (<–love these muslin blankets…I literally own a ton of them). That’s all my son needed. The less things your baby needs to fall asleep, the easier it will be for you.

4) Be consistent

This part is the hardest part. As you know, change can be tough, even for little babies.

There were many days where I felt like giving up but my husband was right there to remind me of our end goal. Try your best to be consistent as you can. I promise, it does get better! Having a hard time tracking your baby’s progress? Grab your (FREE) sleep logging journal here!

5) Don’t be so hard on yourself

Sleep training your baby isn’t just about your baby. It’s also about you. Both of you are learning.

Your baby is learning to sleep independently and you’re learning to let go and allow your baby and yourself to sleep.

Not everyday will go as planned and that’s ok. There are times where you’ll run in and just grab unto your baby and so-sleep for the night. That’s ok too! I did those exact same things many many times.

But remember: the end goal here is to have your baby sleep trained so try to be aware of how many times you run in to “rescue” baby.

Learning how to sleep train a baby is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to beat any records. Just go at your own pace.

6) Treat yourself…to some sleep

After 1 month of consistent-ish sleep training my son was 80% there. By the the time he was 6 months old, he was sleeping on his own only waking up to be breastfed and then he’d fall right back asleep.  At 9 months, I weaned him off the boob and he was sleeping 12 hours straight through the night.

I thought I’d enjoy staying up late with my husband catching up and watching movies like back in the day but I was just exhausted so I slept. That’s how I treated myself.

Not only is sleep important for your mental well-being, it’s very important for your postpartum recovery.

You’re a mom not a martyr. It’s ok to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed this post on how to sleep train a baby. Now go and sleep. πŸ˜‰

How to sleep train your sweet baby in 6 easy to follow steps

Until next time,

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What are your thoughts on sleep training?
Comment below!

Comments

  1. Sleep training is SOOOOO important and every child is so different. My first son was a great sleeper, we are still struggling with my 14 month. Great tips! I cannot wait until my little one starts to self soothe to back to sleep.

  2. I love all of these tips! I can totally relate girlfriend! I had my second son when my first baby was 16 months old! Sleep training was absolutely needed. We did the chair approach and it works so well for our family.

    • Oh gosh LOL we’re practically the same! I don’t know how people go without sleep training but when you have 2 babies close in age like we both did, it’s a must! Thanks for reading Mariam πŸ™‚

  3. These all sound like really good tips! It’s going to be awhile before we start even thinking about kids, but I already know I’ll be sleep training when the time comes around!

  4. I’m going to send this on to my friend right away, she has a 2 month year old baby who will not sleep unless she’s holding him, poor girl is wrecked! Her fiancΓ© tried to help but the baby just will not rest with him at all. Hope these tips will help her as well!

  5. I’m not a mom currently but I have heard that a lot of people have a hard time sleeping training their babies. Of course, some babies are easier to train than others. These are all amazing tips to keep in mind for the future!

  6. The method you chose sounds like a decent one and the fact that it worked is sure important! I was so tired with my second child that people thought I had PPD because I was a zombie all the time. I was still so new to parenting and having to keep two different schedules was SO tough! I really could have used advice like this to help me figure out how to work with her!

    • I totally understand. Lack of sleep can have you feeling like you have PPD. I know there were times where I was in such a dark place mentally, my husband thought something was wrong with me. I just needed REST! I’m glad you found this post help Tiffany.

      xx

  7. OMG! Sleeping the first few months was a dream that wouldn’t come true. I often asked for help because my eyes felt like popping out of my head. I finally found that playing with the baby a little more before putting him to bed works great since he’ll be exhausted!

    • Lol your comment really made me laugh. My eyes always stung because I honestly never really slept. Playing with baby before bed is great and it does tire them out.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. Oh man, sleep. What a subject. I’m so glad that sleep training worked and your son is a great sleeper now! What a relief. I haven’t sleep trained, and MAN is there a world of difference when my daughter is sleeping well and whenever she’s going through some kind of regression/developmental thing/who even knows?!? and her sleep goes through the window. Turns out you need sleep to feel human! Luckily, most nights are okay. I think if I have another baby, I’m going to try hard to not nurse to sleep every single time (that was my big crutch) and also make sure my husband can put the baby to sleep so mama can go take a bath or eat brownies or something.

    • I did that whole nursing to sleep thing and it literally fried my brain…never again LOL it was too much for me. My kids also act up really bad when they don’t get enough sleep!
      PS: I’m with you on the brownies!

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚ xx

  9. Love, love, LOVE this! I could have written it myself. Now I don’t have to. Hahaha. My oldest was sleep-trained by 10 months using these exact methods. Now he’s 2 and sleeps 12-14 hours a night plus a 3-4-hour nap, all while knowing mama is there whenever he needs me (which is NEVER.) YESSS!

    • Yes!! Having a sleep trained baby is the best!! I actually started to live again when my son began sleeping through the night and taking LONG naps. It’s hard at first but SO worth it in the end. I’m glad you were able to sleep train your little one as well. Good for you mama!

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚ xx

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