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The Best Time to Sleep Train

Babies and toddlers have a huge capacity to learn new things. We often underestimate their ability to learn new skills because they are non-verbal, they're so small, and need so much from us. It's our job as caregivers to provide them with the best developmentally appropriate surroundings, to foster their growth and skills over time.

I sleep trained my first two babies at 4 months and 5 months. I felt that they were eating enough (formula at the time) during the day to sustain their bellies for the 12 hour night stretch. They sleep trained fairly easily and within a few days, we had perfect sleepers. I was convinced that 4-6 months was the sweet spot to sleep training.

When I became a pediatric sleep consultant and a postpartum doula, I learned more about the 4 month sleep regression, and the explosive amount of learning our babies do in their first year of life. Our babies brains need sleep to process these leaps and milestones. Good sleep certainly makes for happy babies, too! I still feel that 4-6 months is a beautiful time to sleep train a baby.

I also believe that some people are simply not ready at that point. Some breastfeeding mothers need more time to night wean, and that's fine! Some people want to just teach their child the skill of falling asleep independently, but are more than happy to continue feeding baby in the night 1-2x. Some people's focus is the daytime sleep and eating schedule simply because parents have to return to work and they need the baby to be on some routine with the babysitter. Whatever you choose to do, it's got to work for you. The best time to sleep train your baby is when you are ready to do it.

Is it too late if you don't sleep train your baby early on? No! It's totally fine. As I said in the beginning, babies and toddlers have such a large capacity to learn. They can learn how to sleep independently at age 8months, at 1 year old, and even as toddlers! Much of sleep training is behavioral training, teaching a hard-wired human being to learn a new skill. It can be done, even if it's hard at first.

Whether your baby is bottle fed, breast fed, room sharing, across the hall, the first baby or the 5th baby... sleep training is done at the best time when you feel it is. Bottom line. Full stop. This is a parent/client-driven experience and if you aren't ready to sleep train, you won't want to do it! When you're confident the time is right, set up a goal-setting call with me and let's get the ball rolling!

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