How to Sleep Train a Baby

bedtime parenting routine sleep

Teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own is no easy task. But it will help both you and your baby get a good night's sleep...with less crying along the way. Remember, what works for one baby may not work for another. Each child is different, so don't be too hard on yourself if something that worked before doesn't work again. 

Know how much sleep your baby needs

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), here's how much sleep a child needs by age:

Newborns (0-3 months)

Recommended: 14-17 hours
May be appropriate:

  • 11-13 hours (Not less than 11 hours)
  • 18-19 hours (Not more than 19 hours)

Infants (4-11 months)

Recommended: 12-15 hours
May be appropriate:

  • 10-11 hours (Not less than 10 hours)
  • 16-18 hours (Not more than 18 hours)

Toddlers (1-2 years)

Recommended: 11-14 hours
May be appropriate:

  • 9-10 hours (Not less than 9 hours)
  • 15-16 hours (Not more than 16 hours)

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Recommended: 10-13 hours
May be appropriate:

  • 8-9 hours (Not less than 8 hours)
  • 14 hours (Not more than 14 hours) 

Create a sleep routine

A calming bedtime routine every night helps your baby relax and let's them know that it’s time to sleep. Choose a few simple, calming activities, such as reading a book or singing a lullaby, to do together before your little one falls asleep. As your child gets older, you may need to adjust the routine to adapt to their changing schedules.

Put baby down awake

Try putting your baby down when they're sleepy, but still awake, so they learn to drift off without your help. If your baby is used to falling asleep in your arms, you can expect some tears.

To help ease the transition, sit next to the crib so you can offer gentle reassurances and occasional touches but try not to pick your little one up, unless they become hysterical. If this happens, put your baby down as soon as they're calm. Stay next to the crib until your baby is sound asleep.

Maintain a schedule

Getting your baby on a regular schedule is an important part to helping them sleep through the night. Wake them up at the same time everyday. Position their crib near a window so that the natural light in the morning will help balance their circadian rhythm. Also make sure that naps and bedtime happen at the same time every day too. 

Write it down

It’s important to keep a sleep log to help you keep track of how much sleep your baby is getting each day and to ensure that it is an adequate amount of total sleep for their age. It will also help you see how that sleep is divided up between naps and night, which will help you find any inconsistencies or problems.

There are two ways to create a sleep log -- either use an online app or create your own sleep tracker by hand. I'm personally a fan of using the good old fashioned paper and pencil. There's something about coloring boxes that makes it much more enjoyable.

Sleep training may take dedication and persistence, but it'll be all worth it when you have a baby who knows how to fall asleep on their own at bedtime and nap times, and fall back asleep when awoken.


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