Parents everywhere all want to know the secret to ONE question: HOW do I get my baby to SLEEP?! Whether you are about to be a new parent, or you are just wanting a better sleep training method for your next babe, I’m here to share with you what has worked for us. This post is EXACTLY what I would send to my best friend or sister if they asked me about baby sleep training, so you really are getting everything I know to be tried and true when it comes to both baby AND you getting those precious zzz’s!
Table of Contents
- Before you jump into this post, READ THIS:
- So what is my tried and true baby sleep training method?
- The numbers don’t lie
- My top tips!
- TIP #1: your baby’s daytime schedule sets up their nighttime sleep
- TIP#2: full feedings over snacking, every time!
- TIP #3: make it or break it with wake windows
- TIP #4: Set your baby up for success with a good sleep environment
- TIP #5: stick with it!
- TIP #6: the five minute rule
- Sweet dreams, everybody
**Please consult with your pediatrician with any questions or concerns you have involving your baby and their sleep. This sleep training post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Additionally: YOU are the only one who knows what’s best for your baby. I can only give pointers that worked for us, but ultimately you get to decide what works best in your home! All four of my births were pretty standard at 39 weeks, with no health issues.
The sleep training method I am going to share works very well with my personality, which I would describe as Type A: I LOVE schedules and routine – it’s what works best with our lifestyle, and I truly do believe babies function super well when they have a schedule they can expect and get used to everyday. BUT everyone is different, so if you don’t have a personality like mine, feel free to take the tips you like and leave the others behind that don’t fit your lifestyle!
In the end, I hope that this post can provide some good insights to sleep training, even if it doesn’t become your ultimate baby sleep method. All of us parents are in this together, and I’m so grateful to be able to learn from each other.
I have done SO much research and I have taken so many courses when it comes to baby sleep training. But my favorite, tried and true method that has never failed me? Reading the book Babywise. Every time before I have a baby, I reread this book to refresh myself on what to do and it has worked every. single. time. I truly do have a 100% success rate with all my babies sleeping through the night because of this book!
All babies are different, of course, so timelines have been different, but in the end, ALL of my babies have learned how to sleep through the night early on. Ani slept through the night at seven weeks, and Lyla slept through the night at four weeks (our champion sleeper baby!). Millie was our hardest, but still slept through the night at ten weeks, and Harry slept through the night at five and a half weeks.
In Babywise, they mention a study done on 520 babies who were trained through the method in the book, and here’s what they found (in a super short summary! You can read the full data on this study in the book):
Sleeping through the night was defined by 7-8 hours continuously.
- Breastfed girls: 86.9% slept through the night at 7-9 weeks. 97% by 12 weeks.
- Breastfed boys: 76.8% slept through the night at 7-9 weeks. 96% by 12 weeks.
- Formula fed girls: 82.1 % slept through the night at 7-9 weeks. 96.4% by 12 weeks.
- Formula fed boys: 78.3% slept through the night at 7-9 weeks. 95.7% by 12 weeks.
- Babies with medical conditions (reflux, preemies, viral infections, etc.) all slept 8-9 hours continuously through the night between 13-16 weeks.
These numbers tell me that the Babywise sleep training method is tried and true for others as well. I swear by it, and so do millions of other parents, so I hope you’ll give it a chance if your baby is having a hard time sleeping at night! Being able to get good sleep changes everything when it comes to functioning and parenting during the day. You deserve a good night’s rest, so let’s get into how you can make it happen!
Now that you know that my #1 piece of advice is to read Babywise, I will list everything else that has been sleeping game changers for us! Most of these tips I’m listing below are actually in Babywise, but some of them have been from other resources, too. I recommend to read the book just to get a fuller and more thorough understanding of baby sleep, but I will do my best to explain everything well here!
Your baby’s schedule during the day has SO much to do with how they sleep at night. When you wake your baby, feed your baby, and lay them down for their naps at the exact same intervals every day, it will set them up to get a full, good night’s sleep. There are sample schedules in Babywise (you will find two below!) that are incredibly helpful, but you really just have to figure out the timing based on your lifestyle and your baby.
This may sound extreme, but starting in the hospital, I already start looking at the clock and kind of figuring out a “routine” as best I can! And when I say routine, I mean I start figuring out times that I will feed (I choose to do parent-directed feedings), and what my baby’s average wake windows are. As time goes on, you will start to see your baby almost create a routine for themselves when it comes to waking, eating, and napping. This rhythm ultimately gets them in the mindset of being ready for “bedtime” once nighttime rolls around – which means a full night’s rest after only a few weeks!
A HUGE misconception that comes with this tip – “if I keep my baby awake longer during the day, they will sleep longer through the night.”
No no no.
This is NOT the case. If your baby is not getting the right amount of sleep during the day, they get overstimulated and overtired. This makes it really hard for them to soothe themselves to sleep at night, and it makes it really hard for them to stay asleep.
Ever experienced a night of sleep where you just can’t get into a deep snooze? This happens with babies, too! We can help them be ready for that full night’s rest by giving them a good schedule during the day. Newborn babies need an INSANE amount of sleep, and although you seriously feel like you never see your baby at first, they need it so much! Sleep is so pivotal for brain development and for a happy babe.
Early morning (7 a.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, and hygiene care. Waketime: minimal. Naptime.
Mid-morning (9:30 a.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, and hygiene care. Waketime: minimal. Naptime.
Afternoon (12 p.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, and hygiene care. Waketime: minimal. Naptime.
Mid-afternoon (2:30 p.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, and hygiene care. Waketime: minimal. Naptime.
Late afternoon (5 p.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, and hygiene care. Waketime: minimal. Naptime.
Early evening (8 p.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, and hygiene care. Waketime: minimal. Naptime.
Late evening (11 p.m.) – Feeding, diaper change, down for sleep.
Morning (7:30 a.m.) – Feeding: breakfast. Waketime activities. Down for nap.
Mid-day (11:30 a.m.) – Feeding: lunch. Waketime activities. Down for nap.
Late afternoon (3:30-4 p.m.) – Snack after nap. Waketime activity. Dinner time with family. Early evening waketime.
Bedtime (8 p.m.) – Down for the night.
Like I said above, feedings are super important in babies’ schedules. FULL feedings fill your baby’s tummy during the day so they aren’t trying to get all their calories in at night. When Ani was a newborn, she would snack during the day and then want to eat a TON at night. She was my first baby so I was trying to figure the whole sleep thing out – but there were a couple weeks there where she would wake up EVERY hour of the night wanting to eat, without fail.
Feeding ALL night long is EXHAUSTING, and you seriously feel like you can’t even function the next day.
After learning more about baby sleep, though, I now will NEVER wake up a sleeping baby for a feeding! They will let you know if they need more calories – but if they are sleeping long stretches through the night, you never want to take them out of that habit. Give them their calories during the day and that should keep their tummies full enough to last longer and longer each week!
Knowing the appropriate wake windows for your baby during the day is KEY to sleep training. When they are first born, from the moment they wake up to the moment they take another nap is only about one hour, so these wake windows go by really, really fast (especially with a feeding in there!). But making sure they don’t get overtired is so pivotal not only for day sleep, but to set them up for night sleep as well.
Along with wake windows, it is SO important to keep your baby on their schedule and to not let them oversleep either. This all may seem like a lot, but it really becomes so natural once you get into it. Even if your baby is completely in a deep sleep during the day, if it is time for them to wake up and eat so they are right on schedule, WAKE THEM UP. If they get off their schedule during the day, then that night’s sleep is going to be off as well.
The combination of a good swaddle, a white noise machine, blackout curtains, and a separate room sets your baby up for GREAT quality daytime and nighttime sleep. This may be controversial, but I have found that putting my babies in their own rooms as soon as possible has led to major sleep success. Because I have c-sections, this usually means 10 days to 2 weeks after having the baby so that I feel well enough to walk from my room to the baby’s room for night feedings. My reason for this is simple – they sleep better, and I sleep better.
When getting my baby ready for sleep, I swaddle them first and foremost nice and tight while they are wide awake or drowsy (but preferably wide awake!). It helps so much if you can be one step ahead of them, and that secure and cozy feeling makes them feel like they are back in the womb which is where they were most comfortable for nine months! (Note: once your baby can roll over, transition them to a sleep sack instead of the swaddle.)
Then I turn on their white noise, close the curtains, and I walk out of the room. SO easy but so effective. It’s exactly what they need to be able to sleep super well without any distractions. And speaking of distractions: baby’s do NOT need music to fall asleep! They need. white. noise. I will forever live by this tip.
Baby’s are used to the sound of white noise in your womb, so it actually soothes them much better than music! White noise in the womb is actually the same decibel as a lawn mower, so even if it sounds loud and distracting to you, it is what your baby is used to! It helps them to feel more comfortable and “at home” in exactly the same way the swaddle does. White noise is actually encouraged for babies to sleep with until they are two years old because it helps to create the environment they are most comfortable with, and trained to know is sleep-ready!
Like I said before, Lyla was a GREAT sleeper from the get-go, but we had to work harder at it with Millie. That doesn’t mean that she couldn’t become a great sleeper – and this goes for anyone who has a baby who doesn’t sleep well! Keeping them on schedule and not giving up creates that routine for them, and eventually I PROMISE you they will get it. And it will be SO worth the work.
Five minutes can seem like an eternity when it’s your sweet baby crying. But once my babies have shown me they can sleep a certain length during the night, I allow them the opportunity to teach themselves how to fall back asleep without needing a feeding.
Think about it – as an adult, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you realize where you are and you are able to fall back asleep after a few minutes. Babies don’t have this skill yet, so grabbing them out of their crib every time they cry in the night just teaches them that they are going to get picked up every time they wake up. But if you allow them to figure that out, they will sleep SO much better and will be able to soothe themselves back to sleep which is a huge skill for babies all throughout toddlerhood, too.
If they cry for more than five minutes, I know it’s time for me to step in and help them. Sometimes, there might be something that needs to be addressed, (Poopy diaper? Is the room too hot? Etc.) or they might just need some help soothing themselves back down.
Soothing techniques are different for every parent, but it can be something like rubbing their tummy, giving them a binky, rocking them (not my preferred method but totally could be yours!). But usually within five minutes they are able to figure out how to fall back asleep on their own – which is a HUGE sleep victory! That means they are getting what this night sleep thing is all about, and they are relying on their skills more than you when it comes to getting themselves back to sleep.
The SNOO is all the talk these days when it comes to helping babies sleep. I have used the SNOO for two out of my four babies, and it’s a pretty amazing contraption. If your baby starts to cry, the SNOO will automatically start rocking to help soothe your baby back to sleep. Crazy, right? I think it is AWESOME for that. It is SUPER HELPFUL for sure.
BUT. Do I think you absolutely NEED it in order to train your baby to sleep through the night? Absolutely not. Ani and Lyla both slept through the night without a SNOO, so I know that it is not a necessity.
Again, what your baby truly DOES need (non-negotiable in my mind!) is a good swaddle, a white noise machine, blackout curtains, and their own separate room. That will give them everything they need to sleep through the night, as long as they are on a good schedule for their age, too!
Here’s a good metaphor for it: do you absolutely need a top-of-the-line vacuum to clean your kitchen floors well? No. But is it helpful and a major convenience to have a top-of-the-line vacuum for the job? Yes!
I know this can all seem like a lot – but start by controlling ONE aspect, and then add more and more as you see fit. Soon, it will all come so naturally – and after that, you’ll notice that your baby is sleeping through the night with ease! There is nothing more satisfying than getting a good night’s sleep, while also knowing your baby is dreaming away, too. You’ve got this! Don’t give up and it will be SO worth every effort put in.