Are you wondering how to teach your child to sleep? When should you begin sleep training? These expert-approved recommendations might serve as a guide, as the optimal period for each child varies.
It turns out that the answer to the question of when to sleep-train a child is not straightforward. Isabela Granic, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and coauthor of Bed Timing: The ‘When-To’ Guide to Helping Your Child Sleep, notes that there are times when sleep training is more likely to be successful than others. “Infants and toddlers undergo mental growth spurts that make them more clinging, fussy, and prone to night awakenings. Teenagers frequently sleep less as they acquire new cognitive abilities.”
Continue reading for Dr. Granic’s explanations of what is occurring to your baby’s development as they grow and how to determine the optimal month to begin sleep training.
0 to 2.5 months old
The lack of melatonin in newborns prevents them from distinguishing between night and day. In addition, they need frequent nighttime feedings. Due to this, parents should delay sleep training for the time being.
3 to 4 Months
By three to four months, newborns have developed a nocturnal sleep cycle. They are more gregarious, do not typically have separation anxiety, and begin to sleep better. Unfortunately, most 3- and 4-month-olds are not developmentally capable of self-soothing, making sleep training challenging.
4.5 to 5.50 Months
Most experts recommend sleep training at this age when infants can go 6 to 8 hours without a nighttime meal. Keep in mind, though, that your child is learning that crying elicits a response from you, so expect a lot of sobbing when you leave the room.
6 to 8 Months
Infants are more interested in reaching for toys than they are in maintaining eye contact. If you are considering sleep training, Dr. Granic encourages you to proceed. Your infant may be less cranky when they awaken during the night.
9 to 11 Months
Between 9 to 11 months, infants begin to recognize that their parents continue to exist after they leave the room. Sleep training can be frustrating since knowing you’re just outside the door can provoke tears. Yet, nothing is preventing you from attempting.
12 to 18 Months
As toddlers focus on acquiring language and motor abilities, they become less dependent on their parents. According to Dr. Granic, this is another appropriate period for sleep training.
17 to 22 Months
That may seem contradictory, but a child’s growing freedom actually makes them more dependent. Put sleep training on hold for now.
Meaningful articles you might like: Symptoms of Sleep Regression, Safe Sleep For Your Baby Means Peace of Mind for You, The ABCs of Putting Babies to Sleep Safely