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What is the best age to sleep train?

What is the best age to sleep train?

when to sleep train your baby

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.

  1. The ideal time to sleep train your baby is between 12 weeks – 5 months old.
  2. 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 under 12 weeks, but we will do it on request if we’re with you in your home ensuring that all is well.

My professional opinion is that all babies are ready for sleep training from 12 weeks onward, as long as they’re healthy, eating and growing well, miminum of 12 pounds, have basic motor skills to find/suck their hands, and reduce to one overnight feed (10-12 hours between 7pm – 7am, or whatever schedule works best for your baby. 

When are parents ready?

Now, that’s a different story. I believe parents are ready for sleep training when they’re ready for their baby to 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 dream feed as needed). Parents are ready when they and all other caregivers are aligned, and willing to allow their baby to express their opinion about the new routines. They will object! That’s normal. Babies do cry when learning new skills, but our focus is not preventing tears. Instead, our goal is to make the entire process as safe and easy as possible for your baby and prevent weeks or months of confusion and crying. 

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 had a different opinion.

If you have any medical concerns about sleep training your baby, 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 have a different opinion. It’s up to you to take or leave their 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 had the easiest time, but that changed when I saw that there really is no rhyme or reason about which age is more challenging. Sometimes we find it easier when the baby is closer to 6 months because they can roll and reach for their own pacifier, for example. Other 6-month-olds can be extremely challenging if they’re teething and hitting multiple developmental milestones at the same time. Sometimes we think that an extremely fussy, colicky 12-week-old with the loudest voice is going to be the harder case, and we’re pleasantly surprised all the fussy cranky behavior was simply because the baby was so overtired!

For over 10 years we’ve been observing babies while guiding parents through sleep training in their homes. I can say with certainty now that there truly is no pattern about which age is easier. Why? Because each human being is unique, and babies are human!

I hope this helps you decide when you’re ready to begin sleep training and getting your evenings back! We’re here to help you make that decision and plan out the best strategy to get your baby sleeping through the night (10-12 hours), consolidate naps, and have predictable days that you enjoy together.

 

We can help with every decision.

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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.

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