Ok, so you have decided to sleep train, woo!! Let the fun begin :-)
Seriously, while this is not an easy process, life on the other side is sweet – I promise!
If you are on the fence about sleep training or are not sure when to start, read this.
Whether taking a DIY approach or working with a consultant (why work with a consultant? Read here), I find it helpful to have a good understanding of what to expect when sleep training your child because I have found that being unprepared is the MOST common reason sleep training fails. As the parent, you MUST be ready and committed to the process to see success. This list is full of recommendations but also will help you wrap your head around what is coming your way if you choose to sleep train, regardless of the method you choose:
Recommendations, Tips, and What to Expect
1. Success largely hinges on your commitment to the process. Don’t back down. You must
go through to get to the other side, there are no short cuts. Choose your method
carefully, make sure everyone is on board, and be ready to commit to your plan with
2. If you have a partner who is helping, I recommend that the non-dominant care giver be in
charge for the first few days. Usually this is dad, but not always. You can read more here
3. Regardless of the method you choose to sleep train your baby, expect night one to come
with 60-90 minutes of crying, on average (meaning, maybe more!). Don't back down or
4. It is a process. It takes time –
usually about 2 weeks. This is not
something that is a one
night and done situation. Your
commitment to the process and
your consistency in response to
your child is important – don’t
waiver, don’t change, and keep
going when it gets tough!
5. Start at bedtime but follow with naps the next day and do the work concurrently. This
will be less confusing for your baby and easier on you.
6. Naps suck. They do. Naps take a lot longer to improve so allow grace for your baby and
your self. It takes a while to really find the right nap schedule so be patient, it can take
anywhere between 4-8 weeks to see real improvement with naps.
7. Your child’s voice may go hoarse depending on how much crying they are doing during
the process. This is not harmful nor damaging. Keep them hydrated as appropriate during
the day time and this will subside in a few days.
8. Some children may vomit due to crying. While alarming, this is a simple gag reflex and is
not due to illness. It is not harmful or painful (although, it certainly doesn’t feel nice to
throw up). Clean your child up, offer some quick comfort, and back to the process. The
crying will lessen over time as will the vomiting.
9. Some babies begin to have bowel movements during sleep. If you notice this, go in and
quickly change your child and get right back to it.
10. Early morning wake ups can be a
byproduct of sleep training. This is
part of the process of clearing your
baby’s sleep debt. Keep your baby
in the crib until 6:00 a.m. This
usually resolves itself in a few
11. Early in the process, your child may
be more tired, cranky, or
grouchier than usual. This will
resolve as they clear their sleep debt and learn how to self soothe. Keep going.
12. If you are also night weaning (read here for more), your child may be more hungry
during the day time. Feed them :-)
13. There is often a regression between nights 4-6. This is due to your child learning a new
skill – putting themselves to sleep IS a new skill. Keep going, don’t deviate from your plan.
14. Sleep training is comprehensive and includes sleep timing (usually via wake windows), tracking food intake, physical activity, and cognitive stages. It is not solely just about getting your child to sleep, but it is about setting your child up for success and understanding the reasons behind what you are doing.
There is a lot to keep in mind when sleep training. But when done well, it can be life changing.
Go into this work with a game plan and ready to commit to it fully. I hear so many stories of failed sleep training but it turns out it was because parents weren’t prepared and ultimately give in and quit the process. So, be prepared!
If you are overwhelmed, you are not alone. And, I promise, you and your child can do it! I know it’s a lot and I was super anxious with butterflies in my belly when we did the work.
There is a way to make the process a little easier and cut out all of the self doubt... Enter, a sleep consultant (like me!). If you are ready to commit but just need someone to give you the plan and support you through the process, this is the best way to guarantee success.
Sleep is complex and working with a consultant will cut out all the noise. I am here and ready when you are!
When Can I Start Sleep Training
The Various Methods of Sleep Training