My daughter started out her early life as a great sleeper. She slept through the night by about 8 weeks, put herself right to sleep when we laid her
She always used a pacifier to soothe herself, as well as to fall asleep. It worked great to help us when she was crying or as an immediate sleep aid. We could just pop it in her mouth when we needed her to calm down or fall asleep and it worked like a charm! That was until she got dependent on it.
Around 3.5 months, she started waking more throughout the night when she noticed the pacifier wasn’t there. From then on, it got increasingly more frequent until about 5 months, when she was waking every hour to suck. I thought I would just wait until she was old enough to find the pacifier and put it back in by herself, but that day didn’t seem to come quick enough.
I blamed it on the 4 month regression. Everyone said, you’ll get through this, it’s just a regression. However, there was no end in sight for us.
So I researched a lot about sleep training and it seemed like the right thing to do for our situation. Once I began, she was sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT within 2 day at 5 months old!
What is sleep training?
Some infants naturally fall into an easy and predictable sleep schedule from the start, sleeping through the night from the early weeks after birth. However, a lot of babies need to be taught those skills.
Sleep training is the method of teaching your baby ways to sleep better. It can help them to fall asleep on their own, put themselves back to sleep when they wake at
Often times, we may not realize that we are doing the wrong things to get our babies to sleep. You might actually be developing poor sleep habits for your child without even realizing it.
That’s why considering sleep training will give both you and your baby the gift of sleep– finally! It may not be for everyone, but once you have success, you will wish you did it sooner.
Will sleep training harm my child?
No. Sleep training or letting your baby cry for short intervals at a time will not cause any lasting or long term effects on your child. They will not suffer from neglect or have brain damage from being left to cry for short periods of time.
If you follow the guidelines for this method of sleep training, your baby will see and hear you every 5-20 minutes before they fall asleep on their own. At this age, they will not remember crying or being alone.
This is not a harmful method, but one that will help your baby to self-soothe which is invaluable. It will help both you and your baby be in a better mood throughout the day and night.
However, being left to cry-it-out should not be done for a long period of time. If you are not having any success and your baby is not eventually putting themselves to sleep, you will need to take a break and try a different method.
12 Ultimate Tips for Sleep Training Your Baby at 4, 5, or 6 Months Old
One of the best sleep training methods that I have tried is the interval method. It is a cry-it-out method, but it works like a charm if you follow each step.
These are the strategies and guidelines that I used to sleep train my 5
Update: This method didn’t work as well with my second baby, so I attempted a new technique. It’s very similar, but was much more successful the second time around. It just goes to show you that every baby is different and what works for one may not work for another.
Read about the Best Sleep Training Methods that Worked for my Babies. I explain the difference between the two and why sometimes different methods work for different children.
1. Begin with good sleep habits and a daily routine
It’s so important to get your infant on a schedule so that they have a predictable day and routine. This will lead to less irritability and a more pleasant baby.
Being on a consistent daily schedule and routine will absolutely help their nighttime sleeping habits. Start here to be sure that your child is ready to begin sleep training.
I outlined specific tips to establish a daily routine for your baby in this post. Make sure you’re following those guidelines to start healthy sleep habits before you tackle sleep training.
Around this age, your baby is probably taking 2 naps a day. You should be able to very confidently predict when he is tired and hungry at this point. This means he has developed a good daily schedule.
Yes, this is the cry-it-out method. I know it sounds very harsh when you say it that way (that’s probably why they call it
If you knew that you would only have to experience your baby crying 4 or 5 times and then both you and your child would be promised a full night’s sleep, doesn’t that sound like a no-brainer?
You must be mentally prepared to let your child cry-it-out, but trust me, it hurts you more than it hurts them!
3. When to start
Typically, sleep training isn’t started until a baby is 6 months old, but I just couldn’t wait that long. We started at 5 months old and I think it was perfect timing.
At that age, she wasn’t teething yet and not at a point where she could remember or realize that we were leaving her alone. She also didn’t have any bad sleep habits formed yet, so we weren’t trying to break any bad routines which could be even harder.
You don’t want to start when they are teething because your baby could actually be in pain when they’re crying and you may not realize it. You may just think they want the attention or to suckle/eat.
Also, if you wait too long, they may be more stubborn and it could be harder to break a bad habit. When they are newborns or earlier in the infancy stage, you should use gentler methods of soothing your baby to sleep, not just letting them cry.
Therefore, I think that sleep training at 5 months old gave me enough time to realize that my baby wasn’t going to sleep well on her own, but I wasn’t THAT sleep deprived yet!
4. Take the pacifier or negative sleep association away cold turkey
Originally, I was trying to let her fall asleep with the pacifier and take it away after she fell asleep.
This didn’t work because her suck would be so strong on it, that pulling it out of her mouth would wake her right up. Even if it didn’t wake her up from pulling it out, she would wake up at some point wanting to suck on it because she knew it was there when she fell asleep.
So step 1 of sleep training was NO MORE PACIFIER.
When you know the pacifier or any other negative sleep association (rocking or feeding to sleep) is a quick fix to calming down your child, it can be difficult not to give in and give it right back to them when they cry. However, you have to be strong!
As soon as I decided to take the pacifiers away, I hid them in a box, in another box, in a closet, at the far end of the house, just to make it more difficult for me to get to them if I wanted to cave!
To be honest, my daughter was a much happier child once the pacifier was gone. Even though it was a great way to calm her down if she was upset, she became completely dependent on it.
If it fell out of her mouth during the day, she would cry. If she was sitting and playing quietly and realized it wasn’t in her mouth, she would cry. If she was in the car with nothing to entertain her, she would cry.
Now that she doesn’t use it
5. Start with the first nap of the day
Ok, so here is where the actual sleep training method starts.
I woke up one morning after a terrible night’s sleep, determined to start sleep training. At that point (5 months old), she was taking 3 naps a day. I started with the first nap (around 9 am) and trained her for all 3 naps and then nighttime sleep that day.
So set a starting day. For most, it will be the day that they didn’t sleep all night.
Using the guidelines below, start sleep training during their first nap, second nap, third nap, and bedtime. Do the same protocol for every nap and don’t change the routine or your baby will get confused.
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6. Time intervals
This was the basic strategy I used: Each nap and bed time, I put my baby down swaddled in her crib with no pacifier. I made sure she was drowsy and ready to go to sleep.
I went in after 5 minutes of crying to soothe, then 7 minutes of crying, then 9 minutes, and gradually increasing 2 minutes for every interval.
For the first nap, she cried for 21
By the time we got to her night sleep on the first day, she was crying for less than 10 minutes before soothing herself to sleep. From then on, she never woke up in the middle of the night to suck or eat!!
She occasionally would cry a little when we put her down before she would fall asleep, but it didn’t last too long and she would put herself to sleep. She never seemed to cry for more than 6 or 7 minutes (usually it was even less) and the cries were not screaming cries, but more just like I don’t want to go to sleep yet whimpers.
At times we would go in and have to soothe her again before she fell asleep, but this was still worlds of a difference from before and I’ll take that over middle-of-the-night wakings any day!
After the time interval was up, if she was still crying, I would go in, put my hand on her belly, tell her that mommy’s here and I love you, and whisper shushing sounds to calm her down. Do anything you think would be soothing to your baby.
When I went
The crying may get worse after you leave the room and that is normal. However, don’t break the routine of time intervals. Wait until it’s time to go in before you soothe them again.
If this method is really not working and you’ve been trying for several days, you may need a new method. Check out the other sleep training method (extinction) that I used for my second baby that worked much better in that case.
Both my babies calm down from shushing close to their ear (a sound machine or Baby Shusher helps with this). If your baby is also particularly fond of the shushing sound, the Baby Shusher will really help you out.
I also love my Dohm sound machine for white noise that I leave on through the whole night of her sleep.
For newborns up until they start rolling, these SwaddleMe swaddles are my favorite! The velcro and tightness is what made my daughter sleep so well for the first few months of her life. However, once she started rolling over, they aren’t safe anymore.
Once I had to stop swaddling her with her arms down, I used the Nested Bean Zen Sleep Sack. It still gives them the tightness around their body of being hugged, but their arms are free.
By this point their startle reflex should be gone though, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them waking themselves up from flailing.
8. If you think they’re easing up on crying, don’t go in to soothe
If the alarm is going off that it’s time for you to go in and soothe, but your baby is still crying, but calming down, don’t go in! This may mean that your child is starting to soothe themselves and you want to let that happen naturally.
However, if they start screaming loudly again, then you can go in even if the timing is off. This may just start a new cycle.
9. Be consistent!!
I did this technique with every nap and bedtime once I started and didn’t skip any. Keep it going consistently until your baby is going to sleep on their own without crying. It will happen soon, trust me!
Do the same time interval and soothing techniques if they wake up in the middle of the night, as well. Don’t pick them up or feed them (at this age they are able to go the whole night without a feeding).
10. Naps and bedtime
Some people are afraid to start with all sleeps so they just do nap time or bedtime, but this will just confuse them more. Again, consistency is key and it should be done every time they are put down.
11. Your baby doesn’t hate you
It makes your heart hurt to see and hear your baby crying. It makes you feel like an awful parent and that your
Just wait until you see that huge smile after their nap when they wake up so well-rested. They immediately forget and forgive so easily, so don’t worry about hurting their feelings.
12. Zone it out & don’t give in
Another thing that sounds cruel, but it’s for the best.
During the day it’s easier to let them cry because you have things to occupy yourself so that you don’t hear it. Try taking a shower, watch tv, or make lunch.
In the middle of the night is when it’s hardest to hear because there’s nothing to distract you and you don’t want to completely wake yourself up by turning on the tv. However, if you can, do something that will take your mind off the crying.
It’s not easy to hear your baby crying (or screaming), but know that this is something that will improve both of your lives!
. . . . . .
If you have been doing these strategies for more than 5 days and not seeing any results, just quit for the time being and try again after another week or two.
Good luck with getting better sleep! Hopefully these tips help you and comment below if you have tried it.
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