Sleep training essentials:
What our experts want you to know

What do politics, Bigfoot, and sleep training have in common? They’re all topics that trigger incredibly heated debate. You’re not alone if you find yourself torn on whether to sleep train. Every parent wants their child to sleep well, but not all parents (or experts) agree on the best way to achieve healthy sleep habits.

Parents who decide to sleep train will quickly discover that there are many different sleep training methods. To complicate matters, there are also a lot of misconceptions about sleep training and baby sleep in general. This conflicting information is bewildering!

Our sleep experts have helped thousands of families improve sleep and we want to let you in on a little sleep consulting secret: there is no one “right” way to sleep train or help your baby sleep better.

Even though people tout their own special methods, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer. The method that will work best for your family depends on your family’s situation, your parental style, your child’s sleep patterns and their temperament. What works well for one child won’t necessarily be the best fit for another. Learn more about Huckleberry Sleep Plans.

What exactly is sleep training?

At Huckleberry, we view sleep training as a way to help children learn to fall asleep independently when they’re developmentally ready to do so. However, sleep training is just one piece of the puzzle. We first consider other contributing causes when analyzing a child’s sleep issues. Other factors, such as the environment or adjusting the sleep schedule, can often improve sleep without having to “sleep train.” Use SweetSpot on the Huckleberry app to predict your child’s next optimal time to sleep.

Rather than training a baby or toddler, we’re removing the obstacles to sufficient sleep and teaching the child how to change their bedtime habits. Falling asleep without parental help is a skill that children can learn when they’re developmentally ready. When they can fall asleep unassisted, they will also be able to connect their sleep cycles without assistance, which leads to longer naps and sleeping through the night. There are a variety of ways to go about it, and they don’t all involve leaving your baby to cry.

The term “sleep training” gets a bad rap and is often interpreted as leaving a child to cry alone for long periods, without comfort, until they fall asleep. Since there are many gradual methods for sleep training that can limit tears, this is an unfortunate mischaracterization.

Why should I consider sleep training?

The most obvious reason to sleep train is that you are tired! It’s a good thing babies are so adorable, because sleep deprivation is a legitimate form of torture. Sleep is also foundational to the overall health and wellbeing of a child (and the family as a whole).

Research shows that chronically disrupted sleep is associated with slow growth, poor school performance, aggressiveness, irritability, maternal depression, and family disruption.

Here are some of the reasons why sleep training may improve a child’s sleep

What are the most common sleep training methods?

These gentle techniques involve slowly weaning away from helping your child fall asleep (usually over a couple of weeks or more) until they can fall asleep independently. This tends to be the preferred method for parents who want to avoid tears as much as possible, and don’t mind the process taking longer.
The Ferber method (also known as "ferberizing") is often mistakenly referred to as “cry-it-out,” likely because the baby is left for periods of time and crying is expected. However, with the Ferber sleep method and its variations, parents tend to the baby in set intervals and attempt to calm them before leaving to try again. The Ferber method focuses on gradually longer time intervals: on the first night, the parent visits after 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then every 10 minutes until the child is asleep. Each night thereafter, the intervals get longer.
The extinction method involves leaving a child to fall asleep on their own without interventions to console the child.

What age is appropriate for sleep training?

Generally speaking, we recommend waiting until your baby is at least four to six months old to begin consistently sleep training. Most babies at that point are developmentally able to begin learning how to fall asleep independently. However, babies under six months old aren’t always consistently able to fall asleep on their own each night, so we would expect some ups and downs along the way.

However, there is still a lot parents can do starting from birth. Our customized newborn sleep schedule plans help parents set a healthy foundation for sleep by considering many factors including awake times, feeding and development.

We help many families apply gradual techniques that may prevent the need to “sleep train” in the future. The idea is to encourage your newborn to learn to sleep independently at least some of the time, when conditions are right. However, if your young baby struggles, we’d encourage you to be flexible and help your baby fall asleep as needed.

On the other hand, after six months old we recommend being consistent in your chosen method when helping your baby learn to fall asleep in a new way.

More Sleep Training FAQs

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The Huckleberry Sleep Solution.

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