It Worked for Me: Must-Try Sleep-Training Methods

Real moms share their best advice on sleep training Baby, from bedtime routines and special blankets to soothing music and nighttime nursing.

Don’t adjust the volume.
Never let the house be dead quiet at bedtime. Babies should learn to sleep through a little noise—don’t blast Metallica, but don’t tiptoe around. And if you’re tempted to run to them whenever they cry, invest in a baby monitor with a camera so you can see if they are in distress, but let them whine or cry it out for a little. — Chemere

Plan your day around a good night’s rest.
It’s true what they say—”sleep begets sleep.” Give your little one ample time to nap during the day, and try to spend some waking hours outdoors (even if it means bundling up). Fresh air worked wonders for us! — Elizabeth

Increase sleep slowly.
The book On Becoming Baby Wise helped me get my newborn daughter on a routine. For every three hours around the clock, you feed for 15-20 minutes, play for 30-40 minutes, and sleep for 2 hours. At 3 or 4 months old, you begin to let them sleep longer and longer at the 8 or 9 p.m. feeding. Babies love routine, so the more disciplined the parent is about feeding, play, and sleeping the better the baby’s sleep habits will be.

As Maura got older, after bath and book time I would sit next to her bed and count to 100 and rub her back or head. She’s 4 now and I still do this to settle her and have a few more minutes of time before she falls asleep.
— Dayna

Heed Mom’s advice.
My older son just did not sleep—I wish I’d relaxed and accepted that sooner. I also wish that we’d listened to my mom when she told us we needed to divide and conquer by taking shifts to be “on call” instead of trading off whole nights, which left us exhausted and unable to function. — Madeleine

Start early.
My son is only 6 weeks old, and he naps so irregularly. But even at this young age, I’ve been able to implement a basic routine. I start with a bottle of formula at bedtime, and he falls asleep in my arms. Then I put him in his crib, turn his vibrating pad on the lowest setting, and wind his mobile. This usually puts him to sleep on the first try. Next up: tackling his middle-of-the-night wakings! — Samantha

Swaddle her.
I wrapped up my kiddo tightly in “the miracle blanket” every night until she was about 4 months old. She slept great and is still a great sleeper at 3-and-half years!— Amy

Let her fuss.
We tried everything we could think of and our baby still woke every two hours until 8 months. After one week of letting her cry it out, we were all sleeping better—my toddler now sleeps 13 hours at a stretch. We felt horrible doing it, but in the end it was best for us all.— Cat

Comfort him from afar.
After running through our evening routine—playtime, supper, bath, toothbrushing, book, prayers—I put my child down for bed and sat beside him, not touching or talking to him. Then, over the next couple of weeks, I moved my chair progressively further from the crib until I was finally sitting outside a closed door.— Ledlow

Bundle him up.
What saved us during the first couple of months was Tobi’s snowsuit! It was very warm and cozy. He could be crying hysterically one minute, then we’d zip him into the suit—even inside the house—and he would snuggle in and sleep for hours.— Irene

Give her space.
We kept our daughter’s cradle in our bedroom for the first five months so I could keep an eye on her and nurse her easily. But moving her into her own room was the key to changing her sleep habits for the better and decreasing those nighttime feedings. I wasn’t as quick to respond to her, and she didn’t try quite as hard to get us up. While it took some time for her to get comfortable being in her own space, she started to sleep longer. As time progressed, all of us were happier for it.— Caren

Put her down awake.
Our baby is 10 months old and we start her bedtime routine at 8 p.m. We brush her teeth, give her a bath, and then she plays, plays, plays. After that, it’s lavender bedtime lotion and a bottle. But the key is putting her down drowsy but awake, and she usually sleeps all night without a peep.— April

Clear the air.
Keep the sheets and air fresh. If the air quality in the home is bad or the bedding is dusty or dirty, that could affect the baby’s breathing and make it harder to put her to sleep and keep her sleep. — Chemere

Send out bedtime signals.
We play the same lullaby CD every night and put it on before he gets into bed, so he knows it’s that time. If he cries, we hold him until he calms. Then we place him in the crib and sit in the room—without touching him—until he falls asleep.— Pam Schwartz

Keep consistent.
It’s all about routine and schedule. Keep the same bedtime every night, regardless of what you have going on. You have to make sacrifices and realize these little ones thrive on routine, consistency, and schedules.— Alicia

Do what works best for you.
Pick a method that you are comfortable with. No matter how perfect the “experts” claim a method to be, if you are not comfortable with it, it won’t work.— Darcy

Ditch the guilt.
I really tried, and read all the books, but always fell back on breastfeeding. I felt guilty about it until I read somewhere that it’s a natural way to put your baby to sleep because of the hormones released during nursing. — Erica

Be patient with the process.
Sleep training may be frustrating or take more time than you would like, but enjoy the process—your little baby will be walking, talking, and graduating from kindergarten before you can turn around. You’ll be glad you took the time to appreciate the little things along the way. — Pam Fenzl


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