Infant Sleep Training Guide from a Certified Sleep Consultant
Safe Sleep Environment
Place her in the crib on her back and that there’s only a fitted sheet in the crib without any bumpers, blankets or toys. Since she’s able to roll over, she will be able roll herself into her preferred sleep position.The temperature in the room should be somewhere between 68-72 degrees. Please put Her in her sleep sack for her naps and bedtime.
Sleep Training Process
As a mom to a toddler boy, I can totally relate that sleep deprivation is no joke. It’s a struggle when your family lacks sleep and you need to function the next day. I know that sleeping training can be daunting for some parents, but I can promise you that it doesn’t have to be. The first thing I want you to remember is good-quality sleep is essential for your child. If they sleep better at night, I can guarantee that they will be in a better mood and less cranky the next day. If Her is feeling rested the next day, you and your family will be rested too! Sleep training is something that you are doing for Her and not to her. You are teaching her a very important skill of allowing her to fall asleep independently. Once Her is able to fall asleep independently, she may wake up during the night between sleep cycles, but because she is able to sleep independently she will not have any issues connecting one sleep cycle to the next.
It’s totally normal to hear some crying during the sleep training process. It’s important to realize that you are giving your child the opportunity to try to fall asleep in a new way. If you have met Her’s needs and she is crying, you are not neglecting her. She’s simply communicating that she’s not used to this “new way” of sleeping and is trying to figure out. It’s your job to support her in figuring it out. I’ve outlined the 3 stages of crying below. This will help you get a better understanding of what your child is trying to communicate with you through crying.
The 3 Stages of Crying:
Phase 1: Panic
●Level 10, short-lived less than 10 minutes- “Something is different and I’m objecting to it”
Phase 2: Calling Out
●Level 5, “Mom where are you?”, may need a simple kiss for reassurance
Phase 3: Trying
● Level 1, on and off crying, “I’m ok, I can do this. I’m figuring it out”
Continue to nurse her during the night if she wakes up and it’s been 7+ hours since her last feeding. If she does not wake up, I would let her sleep and not wake her up. Once she’s able to sleep independently, most likely the night feeding will slowly taper off! Let’s first focus on teaching her to fall asleep independently. Once she has mastered this skill, we will work on weaning back those feeds.
The Nighttime Plan
It’s super important to create a solid, consistent bedtime routine every day! Babies crave structure and routine!
Here’s what I would love for you to do with Her as a bedtime routine (carve out 20 to 30 minutes before actual bedtime):
● Start your routine with a bath. After bath, feel free to incorporate a body massage with your favorite kid’s lotion or essential oil.
● Put her PJs on
● Nurse or give her a bottle
● Brush her teeth/gums
● Make sure the lights are dim in her room
● Turn on the sound machine
● Put the sleepsack on her
● Read her 1 to 2 bedtime stories.
● Give her a kiss and put her in her crib and tell her that you love her and it’s time to go to sleep.
● Make sure the room is dark
Option 1: Shhh/Pat into The Chair Method
This method is considered one of the more gentler methods of sleep training. For a parent that is not comfortable with crying, this tends to be the option that they start with.
Here’s how the shh/pat method into the chair method would work:
Part 1: Shh/Pat Method
Week 1: Follow the same bedtime routine as described above. After you put Her in her crib, you would sit in a chair next to her crib. You would rub her belly/ back and give as much verbal comfort at least for the 1st night. If Her starts to cry, pat her and shh her at the same time until she’s calm. Once she’s calm, your goal is to lessen the physical touch and just shhh her. Slowly start to lower your “shhing” once she’s completely quiet and calm for several minutes. If she starts crying again, repeat the same process “patting and shhing” her again. Your goal is to lessen the physical and verbal support every night. Please resist the urge to pick her up as this will make Her think that if she cries enough that you will come in and pick her up. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and it’s not time for a feeding, go to her room and repeat the same process. If it’s time for feeding (see more details in daytime plan), please pick her up and feed her. Once you are done nursing her, try to keep her awake- burp her and change her diaper. After, place her back into the crib and repeat the same process.
Part 2: Chair Method
Week 2: Once you feel comfortable, over the next few nights is to slowly move the chair further away from the crib until you are in the hallway. Let’s aim to start this during the 2nd week if not sooner. You can speed this up or slow it down depending on the progress she’s making each night. Once you make it out of the room and into the hallway, she won’t be able to see you but she will be able to hear you. Keep “shhing” her from the hallway if she starts crying. This will help build confidence in Her to fall asleep independently!
Option 2: Check and Console
This would be my preferred method for sleep training. I find it to be a great method for Her’s age and it works quickly. It also may be a bit daunting for parents when they are in it, but I promise you will experience less crying.
Here’s how the check and console method would work:
Follow the bedtime routine outlined above. Once you put Her down in her crib, tell her that you love her and it’s now time to sleep and walk out of the room. If she starts crying when you leave, that’s totally normal. Please remember that she’s upset and protesting that you are doing something different from the other nights. You are giving your child the opportunity to try to fall asleep independently in a new way. You are welcome to watch her on the monitor or distract yourself by doing something else if watching her on the monitor gives you anxiety. During this time if she’s crying, please set a timer for 10 minutes or a time that feels comfortable for you (it can be 5 minutes or 15 minutes). The most important thing is to be consistent with the timing. If Her is still upset at the 10 minute mark, go into her room. You can wipe any tears away, tell her that it’s time to go to sleep and walk out of the room. Please resist the urge to pick her up during this time. If you do so, Her will think if she cries enough that you will come in and pick her up. Reset the timer again for 10 minutes. Repeat the same steps. If at any point the crying becomes less intense (refer to the 3 stages of crying), reset the timer again for another 10 minutes and keep repeating until she falls asleep. As Her becomes more comfortable with falling asleep independently, the crying/protesting will become less and less every night. Consistency is key! If during the night, Her wakes up at night I would encourage to wait 15 to 20 minutes to go into her room and check on her. At this age, Her can definitely get herself back to sleep within this timeframe. If she doesn’t seem to settle after 15/20 minutes, you can repeat the same steps with the timer like you did during bedtime. It’s important to remember during the check-ins that you want to avoid picking Her up.
Babies thrive on routine and structure. It’s important that her daytime schedule is just as important as her nighttime sleep and that it’s consistent. We want to aim for an “eat.play.sleep” schedule. By doing this, it will help establish a routine and also have Her not associate feeding with sleep. You also want to tank up on feeding her throughout the day so that she’s not waking up for night feedings. At her age, he should be sleeping about 14 to 14.5 hours in a 24 hours period. The maximum wake time for her age is 3 hours and feeding every 3 hours. This will take some time for Her to catch on, so please give yourself some grace! Since she does not have a consistent daytime schedule, I would love to start out with a 3 nap schedule and see how she does with a 3rd nap.
Here’s a great schedule that you can start with and work towards:
3 Nap Schedule
7am wake & feed
8am - feed (solids)
9:15am- 10:30am nap 1
12pm - feed (solids)
1:30pm - 2:30pm- nap 2
2:30pm - feed
5pm- 5:30pm- nap 3
5:30pm - feed
8pm - feed & bedtime
8am wake & feed
10:30am - 11:30am nap 1
1:45pm - 2:45pm nap 2
5pm - 5:30pm nap 3 (cat nap)
2 Nap Schedule
7am wake & feed
8am- feed (solids)
10am - 11:30am - nap 1
11:30am - feed
12:30pm - feed (solids)
2:30pm-4pm- nap 2
7pm - feed & bedtime
8am wake up
11am- 12:30pm nap 1
3:30pm-4:30pm nap 2
Since you are sleep training at night, this routine should not be unfamiliar to Her. Continue to do the same method that you do at night with Her and do the same for her daytime naps. If she continues to cry after an hour of trying to put her to sleep, you can pick her up, change her diaper and try to calm her down. You can try to put her down again after 30 minutes have gone by. If she still doesn’t fall asleep after the 2nd try, you do a “SOS nap” later in a stroller or go out for a drive so that she doesn’t get overly tired! Try to avoid nursing her to sleep so you don’t revert back to the habit of feeding her to sleep. Once she’s mastered sleeping independently, naps will become easier each day!
Great Tips for Spitting Up / Reflux:
● Keep feeding at least 3 hours apart so the tummy has time to digest, rest and reset.
● Allow the baby long stretches of sleep at night so they are not on the 24-hour digestion train.
● Burp ¾ of the way into the feeding or if breastfeeding, when you switch breasts and then once again at the end.
● Do not burp too often.The initial suck is the one that produces the most gas. Burping 3-4 times during a feeding means 3-4 initial sucks that produce more gas.
Daytime sleep is extremely important and I encourage you to not drop a nap until you have tried the below first:
If your child takes the last nap but is struggling to fall asleep at bedtime or they are experiencing night wakings or early risings, shift bedtime a little later.
If your child is struggling to fall asleep during naps, try extending his/her wake windows slightly and then capping the nap to be a bit shorter to continue with the rest of the schedule.
If your child is protecting the last nap, shorten the length of the earlier nap(s) so your little one will be tired enough to take the last nap.
Traveling with a little one might be a bit daunting to parents. It’s important that your little one will be in a different environment and it will take some time for him/her to adjust. Please give yourself some grace and know that this new environment is all new to your little one! I promise as your child gets older, this will get easier!
Here are a few things that you can do to ease into it:
Pack as much as you can to help mirror the same sleep environment and help maintain the same routine for naps and bedtime- bedtime books, sound machine, sleep sack
Try to schedule your day to allow as many naps as your little one is used to in a crib or in a pack n play (even if it’s 1 nap). If the naps have to happen on the go, try to have the nap happen around the same time. Spend some time playing in their new sleep area so that they don’t feel anxious when bedtime comes around.
For time zone changes, I would recommend adjusting to the current time zone. You can reference my tips on “daylight savings” for options on how to adjust.
Most importantly, lower your expectations! Try to enjoy your trip with your little one!
Adjust gradually- shift your little ones schedule by a few minutes in the week leading up to the time change. Here are the most common: 10 minutes for 5 days before, 15 days for 3 days before, or 20 minutes for 2 days each for 4 days before. For “spring forward”, you adjust the schedule back and for “fall forward” you would adjust the schedule forward.
Go by the clock. For spring forward, wake up your little one at the “normal time” based on the clock. Just keep in mind that they may be a little sleepier that day. For “fall back” use your sleep training method combined with a dramatic wake up routine to wait until the clock says it’s time to get up.
Do nothing! Let your entire schedule go forward or backwards an hour!
I strongly believe that if your child is able to fall asleep independently, they should be able to when teething, being sick, or even traveling. If they shed a tear or two, it’s totally normal. If your little one is under the weather or teething, do what you need to do to ease their discomfort and follow your child’s pediatrician's recommendations to manage their pain. Once they are feeling better, you can always reset and go back to what you were doing beforehand! Ultimately, you know your child best!
From Crib to Bed:
Wait as long it’s possible! If your little one is not climbing out of their crib or they have not met the maximum height for the crib, there’s no need to move your child to a toddler bed.
If your child is climbing out of the crib or has reached the maximum height for their crib, their crib is no longer a safe sleeping space for them. When transitioning your little one to a toddler bed, the most important thing to do is to communicate with your child about the change. Set up some rules so that they have a better understanding of what to expect. Explain to them that getting out of bed is not a safe thing to do. If they need anything, they should call out for a parent. You can introduce some fun games and incentives to encourage continued good behavior. Introduce ok to wake up clock to encourage them to stay in bed until a reasonable hour in the morning!
Ensure that all furniture and fixtures are bolted to the wall, electrical outlets are covered, and any cords are out of reach. Install child locks on drawers and closets doors.
7 Months: Sleep Training Infant Guide (Proven to Work)
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