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Sleep Training Your Baby: Methods and Tips

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Sleep training or teaching is a parenting strategy for helping your little one sleep through the night. Several common sleep training methods aim to achieve a full night of sleep for you and your baby! However, you shouldn’t try to sleep train a baby before three to four months old, as their eating and sleeping habits still fluctuate. But after that three-month birthday, begin tracking your baby’s naps and nighttime sleep and wake windows, and introducing a bedtime routine.

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Want to know when it’s time for your baby’s next sleep? Track your baby’s sleep, uncover patterns and trends, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep with the Baby Daybook app.

Common Sleep Training Methods

There are several ways to sleep-train a baby. The ultimate goal of all these methods is to teach your baby to sleep through the night. Not every common sleep-training method will work for every family situation or parenting style. It is a good idea to read up on the different sleep-training methods and discuss them with your partner long before you start to sleep-train your baby. 

Cry-It-Out (CIO)

The cry-it-out method is precisely what the name suggests; it is the one most people think of (even if they don’t realize it) when they hear the term, sleep training. 

Using the CIO method, parents are advised to lay their sleepy baby in their crib and allow them to fall asleep independently, even if they begin crying. The idea is that if your baby is left alone, they will learn how to self-soothe, a crucial developmental milestone, and fall asleep on their own. 

Some parents have a difficult time listening to their baby cry, but there is more than one CIO method, and one might be more palatable than others. The two most common are the Weissbluth Method and the Ferber Method.

Weissbluth Method

Marc Weissbluth, MD, says parents should start predictable bedtime routines as young as five to six weeks old. They should let their baby cry for 10 to 20 minutes before going in to soothe them and then try again. 

At four months old, Weissbluth recommends “full extinction,” allowing the child to cry until it stops or falls asleep without parent interaction or checks. This abrupt change often feels harsh to many parents.

Ferber Method

The Ferber method is more popular among parents who choose CIO. In contrast to the Weissbluth Method, it uses the graduated extinction model starting at six months old.

Parents are encouraged to put their baby to bed when they’re drowsy but still awake, and if they cry, wait 5 minutes before responding the first time. After that, you may extend the time between responses by 5-minute increments. For example, the second time would be 10 minutes, then 15 minutes. 

This method requires a lot of dedication and timing on the parent’s side but is often effective. 


Sleep expert Elizabeth Pantley created the no-tears method, also known as the no-cry method. It involves subtly shifting your child’s sleep habits. For example, parents can use the fading technique to gradually ease out of the baby’s current go-to sleep strategy. 

For example, if you usually nurse your baby to sleep, you would slowly shorten their nightly breastfeeding sessions until you can put them down to sleep while they are still awake but sleepy. Another technique is substitution. Substitution switches out the routine, so if your baby nurses before bedtime, you would read a book instead as the final step.

Pick-Up and Put-Down Method

With the pick-up and put-down method, you put your baby to bed while awake, and if they are crying, you check on them at spaced intervals. Unlike with Ferber, you can pick your baby up, comfort them, and set them back down. 

The idea is that, eventually, the baby will become drowsy enough to fall asleep on their own. However, this method could create unhealthy habits because your baby will learn that if they keep crying, you will keep coming back to comfort them. 

If you use the pick-up and put-down method, avoid making eye contact with your baby or speaking to them, as these actions will stimulate and wake them up.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping Training

Everyone gets more sleep!It can be stressful for parents and cause tension in your relationship.
Adequate sleep is essential for healthy brain development.Some methods encourage parents to let their baby cry, which is challenging for some. 
It can help develop healthy sleep habits.It can be time-consuming.
Your baby learns how to self-soothe.It might not be an option, depending on your housing and sleeping situation.

How to Sleep Train Your Baby

With most sleep training methods, you will begin once your baby is at least four months old; some parents wait until six months. Either way is fine, but if you wait much past the six-month mark, your baby will likely be more resistant to sleep training. 

Most babies between four and five months old are developmentally ready to sleep through the night, making it the perfect window to introduce a bedtime routine and start building healthy sleep habits!

Bedtime Routine

Start with a predictable and regular bedtime routine. Your routine can be as short or as long as you’d like as long as it is consistent. Consistency is key when sleep training a baby. Below is an example of a bedtime routine.

A bedtime routine can be helpful in sleep training your baby
Sample Bedtime Routine

Consistency is important, but remember it is not the end of the world if your schedule is adjusted a night here or there because of other events like vacation or grandma babysitting. A little bit of flexibility will decrease your stress when unexpected changes occur. 

Use Your Baby’s Wake Windows

Wake windows are a helpful tool when sleep training. A wake window is the time your baby is typically awake between naps or overnight sleep. Use the Baby Daybook Sleep Tracker to log your baby’s sleep times so you can discover their wake windows.

Once you see an established sleep pattern, adjust their bedtime to align with their final wake window. If their final wake window falls earlier than you’d like for their bedtime, slowly adjust bedtime by pushing bedtime back five minutes per night until you’ve hit the time that works for you!

The Baby Daybook sleep tracking app shows sleep patterns and wake times, which are helpful for sleep training.
Sleep tracking

Create a Sleepy Environment

Make your baby’s room a place they want to sleep! Keep the lights dimmed, even when you go in for late-night diaper changes or feedings. Consider using a white noise machine or a fan or play relaxing lullabies.

Avoid speaking to your baby or making eye contact right before bed or if you go in to check on them; both actions stimulate your baby and will wake them up. 

Always put your baby to bed drowsy but not asleep. Putting a baby in their bed asleep can startle them when they wake up, and they don’t know where they are or where you went.


Read about the different sleep training methods to discover what’s best for your family, and use the Baby Daybook Sleep Tracker to discover sleep patterns and wake windows. Before you start sleep training, introduce a consistent bedtime routine and discuss the process with your partner. Teaching your baby to sleep through the night might seem daunting, but with a few simple steps and a little bit of patience, you can help them develop healthy sleep habits. 

Download now!
Want to know when it’s time for your baby’s next sleep? Track your baby’s sleep, uncover patterns and trends, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep with the Baby Daybook app.


Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, and gender development. She has written curricula for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside Annapolis, Maryland.
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