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When to Start Sleep Training

Find out when to start sleep training and how best to sleep train your baby

by: Nancy Ripton

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he first month of life is exhausting for parents, says Dr. Cathryn Tobin, author of the Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan. Your baby can’t tell the difference between day and night and needs to be fed every two to four hours. When it comes to sleep, it’s survival mode. But once you’re through that initial rough patch, it is possible to teach her to sleep through the night. Here’s how.

When to start sleep training

“By six to eight weeks, babies start telling the difference between day and night,” says Dr. Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This is the ideal time to establish a sleep routine and instill healthy sleep habits.

At this age your baby’s vision dramatically improves and she can see color and detail. She will gaze at you and smile. Your baby will be able to briefly hold her head up, and will recognize your voice and be calmed by it. Once you notice these changes, it’s time to introduce healthy sleep patterns.

“By three months, sleep habits are fairly set,” says Dr. Mindell, so it’s crucial to start sleep training before this age. Imagine where you want your child to be at one year and start moving toward that point at six to eight weeks of age. Things won’t happen all at once, but it’s important to start a set bedtime routine and to start putting your baby to sleep when she’s drowsy, but still awake. Most babies will continue to wake once a night for food until at least three months, but by six months babies have the capacity to sleep through the night.

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