Gentle Sleep Training

baby sleeping peacefully in crib

Breastfeeding and how to handle night wake-ups are two of the most hotly contested new parenting issues there are.

I know firsthand how overwhelming (and judgmental!) all the advice for what to do when your baby wakes in the night can feel to a new parent. The reality is you'll get through it somehow, no matter what method you choose to follow. Night wake-ups will pass just as everything else will. 

Why do babies cry at night?

Because they haven't yet learned to soothe themselves to sleep. They're relying on you to help them feel calm. But of course, you can't do this for them forever. 

When you hear your baby cry, your parent brain goes into super protection mode. That's why it feels like if you don't go to your baby immediately, something terrible will happen. It's helpful from an evolutionary standpoint—but can make sleep training very difficult. 

What is the Kulala gentle sleep training method?

My gentle sleep training method is a way to help teach your baby to self-soothe—while hopefully being a little easier on both you and your baby.

Controlled crying methods have been tested and the science is clear: babies who receive these techniques sleep better, their parents have fewer symptoms of depression, and these methods do not affect the child's stress levels. Read more here.

When can I start sleep training?

In order to sleep train your baby, they need to be at least 11 pounds, which they usually reach at about three months of age, and they need to have slept five hours or more at least once. 

How do I sleep train my baby?

There are lots of sleep training methods. My gentle sleep training method is backed up by science and will be kind to both you and your baby. 

  1. Start a consistent nighttime routine to let baby know it's time for bed. An example: feed 30 mins before bed, then bathe, dress, read a story, cuddle.
  2. Put baby into their bed and leave the room.
  3. Set yourself a no-feed period at least one hour less than baby's longest ever sleep stretch.
  4. If baby cries during the no-feed period, wait 90 seconds before entering their room.
  5. During that 90 seconds, distract yourself. Say something like "Everything is okay, my baby is fine. I'm waiting 90 seconds before going in."
  6. If baby stops crying, great! They're learning to self-soothe.
  7. If not, that's normal! It usually takes a few rounds.
  8. Enter baby's room after 90 seconds and placate them (shushing and patting them gently). Leave after one or two minutes.
  9. If baby is still crying, or cries again during the no-feed period, wait another 90 seconds and repeat.
  10. This may take a few nights. But eventually, your baby will get used to soothing himself back to sleep.

Often mothers will feel a natural pull to feed their babies when they cry at night, because it so easily calms them. But it's important to not feed when you're helping them learn to fall asleep on their own. If possible, it's helpful to have your partner or non-feeding helper enter the room and do the placating so baby isn't expecting to be fed.

Questions? Come ask them on the Kulala app!