How to use my gentle sleep training method to help your baby learn to self soothe

Breastfeeding and how to handle night wakes are two of the most hotly contested new parenting issues there are. I know first-hand how overwhelming (and sometimes 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 wakes will pass just as everything else will. 

For a bit of context, the reason babies cry in the night is that 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 something terrible will happen. It's often helpful but can make sleep training very difficult. 

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 show that babies who receive these techniques do sleep better, their parents have less symptoms of depression and that the methods did not affect the child's street 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 and they need to have slept five hours+ 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. 

  • First start a consistent nighttime routine to let baby know it's time for bed (feed 30 mins before bed then bathe, dress, cuddle, etc)
  • Put baby into their bed and leave the room
  • Set yourself a no-feed period at least one hour less than baby's longest ever sleep stretch
  • If baby cries during the no-feed period wait 90 seconds before entering their room
  • During that 90 seconds distract yourself or say something like "Everything is okay, my baby is fine I'm waiting 90 seconds before going in"
  • If baby stops crying, great! They're learning to self soothe
  • If not, that's normal it usually takes a few rounds
  • Enter baby's room after 90 seconds and placate them (shushing and patting them gently) and leave after one or two minutes
  • If baby is still crying or cries again during the no-feed period wait another 90 seconds and repeat
  • This may take a few nights but eventually, your baby will get used to soothing itself back to sleep

Often mothers will feel a natural pull to feed baby when they cry at night because it so easily calms them but it's important to not feed during the time you're helping them learn to rely on themselves to fall to sleep. If possible it's helpful to have your partner or non-feeding helper enter the room and do the placating because baby knows they won't feed.