Everyone gives you a different opinion, and you’re confused about what is the best age. If you want more of an in-depth answer to help you decide when YOU and your whole family are ready, read on…
The ideal time to begin sleep training your baby is a very personal decision.
There are multiple factors I consider when I make recommendations for each child and family. I will share two of my generic catch-all answers, and then explain my reasoning – specifically why my answers are so broad.
- The ideal time to sleep train your baby is between 12 weeks – 5 months old.
- The ideal time to sleep train your baby is when everyone in the family is ready – including all caregivers, and your baby.
When is a baby ready?
Babies can be sleep trained as early as 8 weeks. I know this because one of the leading pediatric practices in the Tristate area recommends this to all their patients, and I personally trained my daughter at 8 weeks (she’s 15 now and still sleeps 12 hours whenever we let her!). Professionally, I’m not terribly comfortable advising parents to sleep train their baby if they’re under 12 weeks. From 12 weeks onwards, my professional opinion is that your baby is ready for sleep training if your baby is healthy (no unresolved GI issues), over over 12 pounds, have basic motor skills to find/hold their hands, and ready to reduce to one overnight feed (10-12 hour stretch).
When are parents ready?
I believe parents are ready for sleep training when they’re ready for the baby sleep in their own room, reduce to one night feed, and give the baby space to sleep for 10-12 hours (with the exception of one feed as needed). Parents are ready when parents – and any other caregivers – agree that they’re ready for all of that, und willing to allow their baby to express their opinion about the new routines. Babies do cry when learning new skills, but our focus is not preventing tears, but making the entire process as easy as possible. I am only able to support parents who are ready willing and able to trust their baby, and for us to guide you as we observe your baby.
From there, it’s a personal decision.
Nearly all pediatricians disagree about timing. While Tribeca Pediatrics encourages all of their patients to sleep train their babies between 8-12 weeks before developmental leaps and teething begin, most other pediatricians are vague, and recommend starting anywhere between 3-6 months, or whenever the parents can’t take it anymore. I’ve sat down with entire pediatric practices, and literally every clinician shared a different opinion.
My point here is, if you have any medical concerns about sleep training, absolutely consult your pediatrician. However, if there are no medical concerns, and you believe that your baby is ready at 12 weeks, your pediatrician may advise you to wait. It’s up to you to take or leave that professional opinion.
The majority of the babies we work with are between 3-6 months when we begin. I used to think that younger babies between 10-12 weeks were in general the easiest, but that changed over time when I saw that easy and more challenging really was all over the map. Sometimes it’s easier when the baby is closer to 6 months when they can roll and reach for their own pacifier, for example. Other 6 month olds are extremely challenging if they’re teething and hitting multiple developmental milestones at the same time. Sometimes we think that the extremely fussy, colicky 3 month old with the loudest cry is going to be extremely challenging, and we’re pleasantly surprised that all of that previous behavior was simply because the baby was so overtired.
After 10+ years of my Team and I observing babies while sleep training in real time, I now know that there is truly pattern about which age is easier. I have learned through parenting my own kids (now teenagers) and intimately working with countless families, that each human being is truly unique.
I hope this helps you decide the best timing for your baby and family to begin sleep training. We’re here to help you make that decision and plan out the best method to get your baby sleeping like a baby should (11-12 hours a night).
Reach out if you’re ready to chat. You don’t have to do this alone.
Hi, I’m Natalie, founder of Mommywise. I’m a Brooklyn mom of two (now) teenagers, PPD survivor, still humbled by the early years of parenting. I started this blog in 2004 as a way to help other parents who felt as dark and lonely as I felt to feel less shame, normalize the feelings of not loving parenthood, and raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders. I’m passionately committed to helping new parents feel more joy, offering sustainable employment for women and mothers, and contributing to positive change in the world.