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There are a million articles, books, and blog posts about sleep training on the internet. With a million different thoughts and opinions. Much of parenting boils down to personal preference, and our personal preference has been to sleep train our 4 kids from birth. We recommend sleep training your newborn!
(Good thing we did… because we had 4 kids in 5 years and I’m pretty sure they would have done me in if they weren’t sleeping through the night within the first few months.)
Each of our kids has a different personality and responded to our newborn sleep training methods slightly differently. Plus sleep training your firstborn looks a lot different than sleep training your 4th born!
Yet, we’ve repeatedly seen that sooner you sleep train, the easier it is and the happier everyone at home is! Some people think we’re nuts – and that’s fine 🙂 To each their own!
Here are 10 reasons we have LOVED sleep training our newborns as early as possible! (And no, this does not mean your 2 week old baby is sleeping through the night.)
BTW!! I use the phrase “sleep training” to refer to our whole method of getting baby on a predictable routine that works for your family. We start the process as soon as we settle in back home from the hospital….Usually in the first few weeks.
It’s quite gentle when you start this young and is really focused on establishing a feeding routine that dictates a basic rhythm/ routine/ schedule for your baby’s day.
My super simple sleep training guide walks through the step by step process. And you can download it here to get started with this method right away!
#1 – So you don’t start bad habits that are hard to break
If you rock your baby every night to sleep for 6 months and then decide you don’t want to rock your baby anymore, baby ends up having a hard time breaking the habit. Understandably.
The same is true for nursing to sleep, driving around in the car, sleeping next to mom in bed, whatever.
Longterm, we want our children to get themselves to sleep in their own beds. So, with our method, you start that habit as early as possible.
(But how, you ask?? That sleep training guide I mentioned offers 10 sleep training principles to help you start sleep training from birth.)
#2 -So you can get predictable naps out of your baby + balance other things in your life
Consistent naps has been HUGE for me as a stay-at-home mom of littles. I get a consistent break almost every single afternoon using this method for scheduling our babies.
Personally, I’m somewhere in between type A and free spirit. I love everything in its place, yet sometimes I love to just drop it all and go do something fun! But knowing that I have windows where my baby will be awake, fed and happy makes it a lot more fun to go out. Because wandering target with your baby is more fun when they’re happy 😉 #keepingitreal
“Sleep training your newborn” really is about getting your baby on a predictable routine. And once baby is on a predictable routine, it makes it so much easier to balance the rest of your life.
Whether you want to invite people over to visit baby, plan for a class at the gym, schedule a doctor’s appointment, plan a work-from-home meeting, or just know that you will get time to shower in the day, having baby on a predictable routine is AMAZING.
And it’s possible! We’ve had all 4 of our kids (with all their varying personalities) on a predictable routine within the first couple weeks they were born.
Note: Predictable doesn’t mean perfect… so, you EXTREME TYPE A MOMS, sorry. Sometimes things won’t go according to plan. And anyone who promises you otherwise isn’t giving you the full disclosure. But, you can have a basic routine for your baby that you, the parent, set in place. And it can work most days if you’re consistent!
#3 – Less Crying!
When people hear “sleep training,”they often think, “cry it out.” Which somehow mentally translates to fear they have to leave their baby crying for hours and hours.
Yes, our babies have had to cry themselves to sleep at times. But, honestly, the sooner you start training them on a holistic routine, the less they will cry themselves to sleep. Holistic means our method isn’t just about sleeping… it’s the big picture.
Creating daily rhythms, when to feed baby, how much to feed baby, how to know if baby is hungry or tired. I cover all that in my sleep training guide!
The earlier they learn to “self-soothe,” the less they have to cry to figure out how to self soothe!
If you are using our method and you place your well-fed, sleepy, swaddled 3 week old in a bed, any crying or fussing won’t last more than a few minutes.
If you have rocked and/ or nursed your baby to sleep for 6 months and then decide you want them to learn to get themselves to sleep, they will be able to cry for a long time! And they probably will!
I tell parents who are inquiring about our method that you can technically start it at any time, but it’s SO SO SO much easier to start the first few weeks or first 2 months with your newborn than it is to kick it into gear at 5 months old.
If you wait until the baby is over 4 months old, it will be much harder on everyone! No matter what sleep training method you use.
#4 – Self soothing is an AMAZING SKILL
Speaking of self-soothing, self soothing is an amazing skill for your baby. Dare I say – an amazing gift to give your baby.
If they know how to self-soothe early on, they’ll be so much happier!
Like I said, by “sleep training,” I really mean a more wholistic habit training. And part of that is teaching baby to self soothe. Our kids’ self soothing process has involved squirming, grunting, fussing, and at times, crying. But as they got older, they transitioned to sweet babbling, singing, reading, etc.
And though bedtime can get crazy with 4 kids under 6 (Haha!!), it’s not really a battle. And my unscientific theory is that part of the reason there isn’t a huge bedtime battle most days is because they all learned to self-soothe really really young.
And because from birth the bedtime pattern has been parent led, not child led 🙂
#5 – Safer to have baby in their own bed to sleep
Most pediatricians these days agree that it’s safest for baby to sleep in their own bed, on their backs. We swaddled all our kids from very early on so that they learned to like it.
(They all dropped the swaddle around 4 months old when they learned to roll around.) We generally observed that they were less likely to startle themselves awake when they were swaddled.
I have a whole post on other perks of putting baby to sleep in their own bed from the very beginning.
#6 – Establishing good eating rhythms is good for breastfeeding
Our method works whether you’re breast or bottle feeding. Establishing a regular feeding routine is good for your milk supply AND it’s good for baby’s metabolism. My sleep training guide goes into more detail about how to establish a schedule for baby’s feeding and how to know what your baby needs when.
If you’re nursing, once your milk supply is established, the key to sleep training is actually to make sure they’re getting full every time you feed them instead of letting them snack all day.
This is of course easier to do with bottle feeding because you can see how much they’re drinking. But it’s doable with breastfeeding too! We’ve done it with all 4 of our babes.
#7 – Easier to know when something is actually wrong
When you have your baby on a predictable routine and they start crying, it’s easier to discern what’s wrong. If it’s been 2.5-3 hours since they last ate, you know they’re hungry. If they have been up for an hour or so, you know they’re tired. If they just finished eating a full feeding, you might wonder about some gas or indigestion.
(You can learn how to “know” these things for your baby too!)
One time we pulled our baby out of the tub and suddenly during the drying-lotion process, he started screaming. We knew it wasn’t time for a nap or bottle so my mom-instincts were heightened that something was wrong.
We looked him over and realized his thumb was purple! Apparently he had a hair tourniquet. Basically a piece of hair wrapped so tightly around his finger that it was cutting into his skin and cutting off his circulation.
We quick got it out and called our family doctor to see how to deal with it. BUT I’m so glad we noticed it right away instead of spending 30 minutes trying to figure out why he was crying.
There are definitely times with my kids when I have no idea what is going on and feel woefully inadequate as a mom.
BUT, having our little babies on a basic routine has really helped me to feel confident in knowing what they need and in being able to communicate that to other caregivers – such as Grandma or a babysitter!
#8 – Easier to leave them with others
Speaking of other caregivers – it’s much easier to leave your baby with other trusted caregivers when they’re on a predictable routine. Sleep training from birth helps immensely with this!
When I was nursing every 3 hours, we knew baby’s last feeding of the day would be around 6:45-7:00. So I could plan for a babysitter to come at 7:15 and we could leave for 2 hours knowing baby wouldn’t be hungry. Since we knew our baby’s tired cues would kick in about an hour after feeding, I could say to the babysitter:
- watch for him to start rubbing his eyes around 8:00 or so
- here’s a simple bedtime routine
- lay him down and say goodnight and close the door
We’ve only had a babysitter get stuck with a baby who won’t stop crying a couple times. And that was with our most difficult child to sleep-train. And he ended up having ear infections both times!
So, while it’s not 100% fool-proof (no method is), getting your baby on a sleep training program from birth makes it SO SO SO much easier to leave him with a sitter, drop him off at the fitness center childcare, or leave him with those sweet old ladies in the church nursery 😉
# 9 – More time with your spouse!
A baby seriously rocks your home life. Or at least that’s what we found – especially with our first baby. All of the sudden, there was a 3rd tiny person in our home who seemed to take all my time, energy, and attention. And when one of us wasn’t dealing directly with baby, we were talking about the baby.
Getting our baby on a predictable schedule was a marriage saver. Seriously. We were able to know that 8:00 pm would be our time every day. And that we’d go to bed together. Without a baby in the bed or the room.
# 10 – More likely to get a happier calmer baby!!
Babies and children thrive with predictable schedules. Think about it…
- Elementary school classrooms are run on a routine. Calendar time then math then reading then centers. The kids like knowing what to expect.
- Kids love traditions… because they like knowing what to expect.
- If you establish a set time every day (say: right after lunch) that your kids get to watch a show and explain that’s the only time, they’ll learn not to ask for media throughout the day. Because they’ll know to expect it right after lunch. (If you have older kids, make this announcement and try it! I bet it’ll take less than a month to be their new normal.)
Establishing a predictable routine by sleep training your newborn from birth will make your baby so much happier.
What do you have to lose by trying it!? 🙂
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