When is the right time to sleep train?

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The question I get asked most frequently is when the right time is to sleep train.  Unfortunately, there’s really no right answer to this as it depends on you and your baby.  Some babies are ready to sleep train by 4 months old others aren’t ready until 6 months old.  A lot of research points to the baby’s weight as the deciding factor on whether or not they’re ready to sleep through the night.  This is because if a baby weighs enough to be getting all of their calories during the day, then any calories they’re getting at night are “bonus,” and these babies who wake up in the middle of the night are waking out of habit.  At any point, the whole family needs to be on board before embarking on any sleep training journey.  If both parents or caregivers aren’t on the same page with their level of readiness for change (or with which method they’d like to go with), then anything tried just won’t work out.

Even though there’s no magic age to start sleep training, it will be easier if you can do it before the baby has object permanence.  Object permanence is when the baby understands that objects don’t seize to exist, meaning that they don’t just disappear once out of sight.  You can test this with your baby by hiding a toy under a blanket, if the baby tries to remove it to get the toy, they’ve got object permanence.  This typically comes into play as early as 5 months old.  You may start to see your baby get upset when you leave them and they also may start to love playing peek-a-boo.

Personally I sleep trained my daughter at 2.5 months when she weighed 12 pounds (research goes between 11-14 pounds).  There was some crying involved, but nothing more than I was prepared to handle, and I had a support system consisting of an amazing husband by my side.  It took less than a week and she has slept 12 hours a night ever since.  Of course we still have nights where teething or illness wake her up and we tend to her of course, but overall she is an amazing sleeper.  But I also have friends who waited until 6 months, and others who have been able to train while co-sleeping and/or keeping a night feed.  There are endless possibilities, which is why the best plan needs to fit your family’s needs and those of your baby.