Sleep Training for Babies

This is the number 1 topic I have seen where there is no shortage of opinions. Young and old alike. When should you start sleep training your baby? What age should you start Ferberizing? Is it ok to sleep train while breastfeeding? Is your baby going to suffer when he is 30 years old from trauma?

Generally, there are 3 schools of thought when it comes to sleep training.

  1. Oh Lawrd, no! We can never do that to our child! We simply cannot stand to listen to him cry!
  2. Are you kidding? We need our sleep! As soon as that child hits the mark, we are sleep training!
  3. We have tried sleep training many times, it didn’t work, so we gave up and are just settling with co-sleeping so that everyone gets some sleep.

And then there’s that anomaly from my mom, who told me last week, “We gave you water when you were 3 days old, and from then on, you slept through the night.” {insert really confused emoji right here}.

My first son (who is now 10 and who’s beautiful picture is featured below), had very bad colic, and you can read all about those lovely days in that link. We tried sleeping training him when he was over the colic, which was probably safe to say at around 8 months, and we failed miserably. We tried that off and on. For the next 3 years.

Baby Boomba Sleep Training

Well, he ended up sleeping with us probably until he was 4 years old. We did however, always put him to sleep in his own room, but somewhere around 3:00 AM, he would end up in our bed.

With our 8 month old now, we have been co-sleeping with him since we left the hospital. His crib is literally right beside my night table, but let me tell you, when you are so sleep deprived, the thought of lifting your baby up into the crib which is 1 footstep away seems like too much work. Especially when you are breastfeeding like 5 times a night. Who has time for that?

Not to mention, I am now 10 years older, and I’m not in my 30’s. Old age has definitely set in.

Nap Time Sleep Training

Well at 5 months in, I said to hell with this. We debated the fact of whether we should sleep train him with the cry it out (CIY) method because my sanity was more important in the grand scheme of things. We started it at nap time. We put him down in the crib. Let him cry for 5 min at a time, went in and checked on him and did not say a word. And word of advice, definitely DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT, make eye contact.

Eventually, he was able to sooth himself to sleep in about 15 min. This took about 3 days.

But at night, it’s a whole other ball game.

Night Time Sleep Training

My friend recommended a book called The Sleep Easy Solution, by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack because it worked for her. I bought it and read it before the baby was born and was very adamant in trying it out. It’s an excellent book and the author lists the plan step by step for you. And that’s what you need when you are a walking zombie, things spelled out step by step.

We tried this only a couple of times at night. And he went ballistic. Like, he was literally beside himself. No I’m serious, I think I saw his twin beside him.

Night time also posed another big challenge for us because our 10 year old has to be up at 6:30 AM every morning for school. It wouldn’t be fair to him to be woken up throughout the night from a screaming baby and be a zombie the next day. There is just not enough window of opportunity to properly do this at night unless we had 3 full weeks. And finding 3 weeks is HARD. We all know that sleep training doesn’t work over the weekend!

I also should note that I breastfeed him until about 7.5 months. This was also another reason of not totally diving into the sleep training at night because I just wasn’t sure if he was still hungry at night.

Eventually, teething started, we had businesses to run, and nap time to us is like when the heavens open. I was dreading this song and dance of 5 min crying, going in, checking, blah blah, at intervals of every 3 hours. So the fastest way for me to get him to nap was just to lie him beside me in my bed, and he would fall asleep just like that. No rocking, no nothing.

There also seemed to be sleep regressions happening throughout and we just couldn’t keep restarting.

But I do really recommend this book because it covers ALL ages. It suggest that you start sleep training at 5 months and it gives advice for all the way up to toddler years. It may very well work for you.

But really, if I were to sum it up in 2 words of where we went wrong it would be this:


So, you can cue that lose buzzer from The Price is Right, because we lost on this one. Maybe we will try it again when he is older? But right now, for us to get any sleep is just to have him sleep beside us.

Well it’s safe to say that as of right now, I have not slept in more than 3 hour increments for the past 8 months + the last 4 months of pregnancy. That makes it a year! And I have been met with alot of criticism for co-sleeping. Because you know, everybody has opinions. So what’s the best way to shut everyone up? Just don’t talk about it to those that are NOT doing the EXACT SAME thing that you are doing at this EXACT moment!

It’s not that I don’t believe in sleep training. I’ve tried it and very much wanted it to be successful but our lack of consistency made it fail. It’s just too much work. And you really do need a partner for this, you cannot do it alone. But I don’t doubt that it’s effective, because it has worked with several of my friends.

I sent out a message to friends, family and other business owners to see what their take was on with the whole sleep training thing. Here is what they had to say:

As a new mother, I don’t think I could have survived without sleep training. Thankfully our pediatrician introduced us to it through the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth M.D. We went from a baby that wouldn’t go to sleep unless she was sleeping on TOP of someone (me), to sleeping 12 hours through the night with two daily naps (within about a 3 week period.) All babies are different, and some have other issues that need to be addressed (like reflux—which we dealt with on kid #2 and 3), but this framework seriously saved me—even with reflux! Even if you’re not working outside the home, you have stuff to get done every day, and you NEED REST!! Highly recommend sleep training for EVERY parent!
Stella Nadene

As a dad, here are some of things I have tried to make a baby sleep. Car rides in the middle of the night, playing the same lullaby over and over on the CD player. While in the detached car seat, I’ve set the baby on top of the dryer and turned it on. The rhythmic movement and sound lulled her to sleep. And of course, holding the baby against my chest while rocking in a rocking chair.
Jason Ricci

My approach to parenting is often to do what causes the least amount of stress and at night, yields the best quality sleep for both baby and parents. In our case, that has meant room sharing and safely co-sleeping with baby. For me, waking up in the night to help gently soothe baby back to sleep is just a natural part of nighttime parenting. For me, that is ok (and in those quiet moments when the rest of the world is asleep, even peaceful at times!) and less stressful than a regimented training program. Each parent and each baby is different and so what works for one family will be different than what works for the next. So find what works for you, be confident about it, and leave the other million opinions re baby sleep behind!
Maran S.

We used the Coles notes internet version of the Ferber Method because let’s face it, the last thing I wanted to do was read more baby books.  When is the best time to start? Probably when your baby doesn’t need to feed anymore during the night.  When is not the best time to start? Probably at the 9 month mark when we decided to because he was teething and going through separation anxiety. It took us a solid 2 months for clear sailing 12 hour sleeps. The first 2 weeks were tough. Crying that would last anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2.5 hours. We stuck to the schedule though. A few sleepless nights for us but in the end, worth it.  We started with less minutes 5, 10, 15, 15, 15, etc.  Then made our way to 30, 35, 40, 40, 40, etc.  After a couple weeks it would be random when he would cry in the night so those who say a few days and it works, maybe for your baby but not ours.  Eventually he got it and it was awesome. However, when we went on trips with time changes and unscheduled naps or when he got sick, everything would be thrown out the window! Because how could you not pick up your sick baby who is suffering? We’d start right over again – but with longer time frames from the beginning – ex. 15, 20, 25, 25, 25, etc.  And it wouldn’t take that long for him to get the hang of it again. We would not pick him up. At the interval marks, we would go in for a couple minutes at a time and pat him, soothe him, turn on his music and try to comfort him but not to the point of sleeping. As soon as we’d leave, he’d start up again but you have to be consistent. We’d alternate turns depending on who was tired the most. It’s a team effort and you have to follow through and not give up! Now at 2, he may cry here and there but we haven’t had to go in anymore. He eventually falls asleep on his own and he doesn’t cry for long. We get about 11.5 hour stretches throughout the night but we are very consistent with nap time during the day.
Christina B.

I never really viewed it as “sleep training,” but it was pretty easy to get my daughter on a schedule. She started sleeping through the night around 7 or 8 months (she’s 18 months now). Daytime hours are hers, we play, learn, and spend time together. When she goes to sleep between 8pm and 9:30pm that’s typically the time I spend working on my business.
Briana R.

I slept trained seven babies. It took three nights in late infancy and then all slept about eight hours straight (and were breastfed). MY cortisol levels decreased, they were cheerful as ever the next day, and our lives improved dramatically.  When your night time parenting is affecting your daytime parenting, it’s time to try something else. Not being willing to try is more about the parent’s need to feel forever essential to the child than it is about the child’s supposed needs. No one wants to hear, “You’re just not that important.” But it’s a good thing! I highly recommend at least reading Dr. Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. He’s far more compassionate and helpful than the reactionaries give him credit for. I wanted to send him flowers.
Jen X Runner

I chose not to sleep train. My little ones were not great sleepers or nappers and my exhaustion was the main factor in making the decision to co-sleep. It worked well for everyone and we all got a good amount of sleep each night. I would do it the same way if I had to do it all over again.
Gwen L.

I thought that I just had a bad sleeper. At 10 months he slept only 2 hours at a time. We were dying. Susy Giordano’s Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success saved my life. It was short and sweet and helped us get on a routine we love.

Within 48 hours of just implementing Susy’s daytime schedule, he was doing a  7 hour stretch. When we began following Susy’s nighttime advice, after one week of consistency, he slept 12 hours and happily took 2 naps in the day.

Sleep training is not torture. It is teaching. There are ethical ways (like Susy’s) to teach a baby to sleep, and it definitely worth all the hard work.
Carina R.

Sleep training doesn’t work. And we shouldn’t be trying to make our babies sleep. If they need us then they need us and it is our responsibility as a compassionate, responsible parent to go to them every single time. They are small and helpless and for millennia they have slept right beside their parents feeling warm and safe. While sleep training may stop them crying it doesn’t stop the cortisol rising and the stressed state. Chronic raised cortisol reeks havoc on our bodies. I understand that people get to the end of their tether and I would prefer they temporarily left their baby to cry while they calm down so they don’t hurt them but sleep training is not effective. Even ‘gentle’ sleep training is stressful to a baby or toddler. Sleeping through the night is a brain development step that some make earlier than others and nothing you do will speed it up. Very bright and gifted children are often incredibly wakeful. I know, I have three of them. My two and a half year old still wakes several times a night most nights. It sucks. But we are his parents and we go to him. Every time. It is our job to do so. I am a trained well child nurse. Wow that was a big rant. Grab your popcorn and watch the show.
Dana T.

Great Resources on Sleep Training

Best Sleep Training Books

The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep The No Cry Sleep Solution The Baby Sleep Solution Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

Hire a Sleep Training Consultant

If all else fails, and you are at your wits end because you cannot function, consider hiring a Sleep Training Consultant. They either do phone consultations or come over at your house at night (depending on your location), but they do not come without a price. And to most sleep deprived parents, it’s the best money they have ever spent.

Final Thoughts on Sleep Training

There is no one size fits all answer. As with all parenting, do what works for you. I am not an expert and and neither are any of the other billions of parents on this earth. And the experts aren’t really experts either. Each child is different. So good luck and please comment below and let me know if sleep training worked for you!

2017-07-09T09:21:41+00:00 By |baby boomba, parenting|

Leave A Comment