Why Sleep Training a Baby Doesn’t Work (& What Does)

Thinking about sleep training your baby? Julie Wright and Heather Turgeon, the authors of The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep, say it’s not possible.

“You can’t train a human being to sleep — we are built to sleep,” Turgeon tells Today.com. “It takes time for a newborn’s circadian system to mature, but after five months or so, a baby is capable of long stretches of nighttime slumber. She’s become more conscious and in control, with the fine motor skills to find her fingers or thumb, and maybe even the gross motor skills to roll into her favorite sleep position.”

It’s often the parents who need training, says Turgeon. A baby will let you know when they need help, so mom and dad should give their infant a little space and time to work things out on their own. Bouncing and rocking your child to sleep establishes a pattern and makes the infant less able to soothe himself to sleep. The baby may fuss a little when parents stop the pattern they’ve established themselves, but a little period of adjustment is actually OK for babies, she adds.

Babies are constantly changing and it’s important for parents to think of healthy sleep as a philosophy instead of a training session. Have a routine that supports good sleep, so that when things are quiet and the lights go out everyone is in charge of their own sleep…even the baby. Face-rubbing, wriggling, and getting cozy and comfy before dozing off comes naturally to a baby when parents stay out of the way. Babies want to sleep, and you might be surprised by how quickly the littlest ones catch on to good sleep habits.

Photo: Getty