The Right Age to Sleep Train
When my twins were newborns, the burning question that was on my mind every moment of the day was “when will I get some sleep?!”
When the girls were three weeks old I asked a doctor friend when I could possibly start sleep training my babies. He laughed and said “Oh, I would say about three weeks is fine. Just kidding! Wait till they’re at least three months old before you start anything.”
Sigh. Many more sleepless nights ahead.
But I slogged it out, because even exhausted mothers who are in a postpartum haze of sleep deprivation recognize that formal sleep training early on can’t be a good thing.
There are just too many variables to take into account during the first few weeks of life. Your baby’s developmental readiness, physical capabilities, and emotional attachment are all serious concerns that take precedence over getting a good night’s sleep.
BUT – Just because your baby is too young for sleep training does not mean that your hands are tied. And that’s because of Sleep Shaping.
What is Sleep Shaping?
There’s a big difference between sleep training and sleep shaping.
Sleep training always involves some sort of crying period and is usually not recommended before four months of age. While it’s not easy, if done right, it can take less than a week to see enormous improvement in your baby’s sleep.
Sleep Shaping is the practice of gently teaching your newborn baby good sleep habits – without any tears – and can be started immediately after birth. A baby who has been “sleep shaped” can be sleeping 7 hour stretches on her own after a few weeks. While sleep shaping takes a lot longer than sleep training, it’s a very gentle way of easing your newborn into good sleep habits. This often works very well for parents who are hesitant about sleep training at a young age but want to start moving sleep in a positive direction.
Sleep shaping can only work with a newborn, so if your baby is older than 4 months, your best bet is to choose a sleep training method that suits your parenting style.