Sleep Training Baby to Sleep Through the Night

If you’re an expecting or new mom and you plan on sleep training baby, you probably have a lot of questions. I am a girl who needs my sleep. Like REALLY needs it… so when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to get a head start on these baby sleep training shenanigans while I still had the chance. I had a million questions…When do babies sleep through the night? What is cry it out sleep training? What is no cry baby sleep training ? Is there such thing as a newborn sleep schedule? I landed on what I found to be the best baby sleep training solution out there, a no cry baby sleep training method that is (almost completely) guaranteed to have your baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks of age. Sounds too good to be true, right? I’m here to tell you it’s not. You can sleep train your baby to sleep through the night without “cry it out” and without any crazy baby sleep schedule, just sweet baby sleep. Does that sound like a fairy tale to you? Keep reading….

I gathered most of the information I’ve learned from the book Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old, by Suzy Giordano. This lady is BRILLIANT and if I ever have the chance to meet her I will give her the biggest hug ever.  Using the strategy outlined in the book, I was able to sleep train by baby to sleep twelve hours through the night by the time she was 11 weeks old using this no cry sleep training method. IT. WAS. AMAZING. Especially after the first couple of months with a newborn, which were incredible but so exhausting and stressful (new mamas- amirite?). This no cry sleep training method works for both breastfed and bottle-fed babies, but because my baby is bottle-fed, I have more experience in that arena. I have included most of the author’s suggestions for breastfed babies, but if you want more details I would recommend getting a copy of the book. You can find it here.

I didn’t follow the book’s sleep training program to a T so this post is a combination of tricks taught in the book and a couple variations I developed on my own. The book is far more detailed than this post, but I wanted to outline the basic steps we used that worked for us. My daughter has not woken up in the middle of the night since she was 11 weeks old (with the exception of the night we unexpectedly pulled the DockATot on her – more on that here). She cruised right through the four month sleep regression, and is still sleeping soundly through the night even though we’ve started the dreaded teething phase. That said, I can confidently say that the book was one of the best investments I’ve ever made and I would HIGHLY suggest grabbing a copy. Here is a breakdown of the steps we used to train my baby to sleep 12 hours through the night by 11 weeks old.

Sleep Training Baby to Sleep Through the Night

1. Decide On Your Hours:

The book suggests breaking your day into two 12-hour chunks, depending on what time you’d like baby to go to sleep and wake up.  My husband and I decided on 9:00am-9:00pm, but it can really be any time that works for you. My husband gets home from work late, and we wanted to make sure that he had at least a few hours at night to spend with baby during the week. Also, I tend to wake up earlier so that I have a few hours in the morning to get stuff done before baby wakes up, which is SO NICE. Think about your schedule and decide on a window that will work best for you.

2. Make Sure Baby is Eating AT LEAST 24 oz/day:

This is important.  The book recommends keeping a log of how much baby is eating in the weeks leading up to the start of the program to make sure they’re eating enough. If you’re breastfeeding, you want to make sure baby is gaining at the right pace before you begin (if I were breastfeeding, I may have checked with my pediatrician just to be totally sure that baby was fit for this program). I am going to use ounces in my examples because we are bottle feeding, but again, there are lots of awesome reviews from breastfeeding moms as well.  When I talk about increasing and decreasing ounces, for breastfed babies the book suggests adding/subtracting time that baby is at breast

3. Begin Consolidating Feedings:

The goal is to get baby eating every four hours, four times a day in your 12 hour window. Because our schedule is 9:00am-9:00pm, my baby has a 6-8oz bottle at 9am, 1pm, 5pm, and 9pm every day. Now that we’ve established our routine, we can give or take 15 minutes or so. So for example, if your schedule is 6:30-6:30, baby would feed at 6:30am, 10:30am, 2:30pm and 6:30pm. By 8 weeks, most babies will be eating every 2.5-3 hours. Some will naturally stretch the time between feedings without any help.  At 8 weeks, providing baby is gaining properly, the book suggests beginning to stretch the time between feedings. This can be done gradually.  Don’t rush things, every baby will move at their own pace. Some babies master it by 9 weeks, others won’t get it down until 13+ weeks. Here is a basic synopsis of the steps outlined in the book:

    • Start by adding another half ounce/feeding (or couple minutes at breast if you’re breastfeeding) every few days, until baby is consistently eating 6-8oz/feeding.
    • Begin to stretch the time between feedings.  We added about 15 minutes every few days, until we reached the goal of every four hours.  This was the trickiest part, and you may need to work at it a bit in the beginning.  The author of 12-Hours-by-12-weeks suggests distraction tactics like holding and bouncing baby, using a pacifier, and seating them in a swing or bouncy seat.
    • If baby is inconsolably hungry (distractions aren’t working) an hour before target feeding time, you can give baby a “snack” of about one of two ounces.

4. Wean Off of Night Feedings:

Once you’re sure that baby is eating enough during the day, the book talks about weaning baby off of nighttime feedings. By the time my baby reached the goal of our 4 equally spaced daytime feedings, she only had one consistent nighttime feeding remaining so it was pretty easy to wean her off. The book recommends weaning one feeding at a time, and making sure that you have food ready to go for baby as to not give them time to get upset and become more awake. The goal is to feed them in a drowsy state. We gradually decreased the amount by about half an ounce/feeding every night or so.  She started with about 3 oz/night feeding, and it only took about a week to totally wean her off. After the week had passed, she just stopped waking up and slept all the way through! The first night she slept through, we were in disbelief. It was absolutely magical.

5. Create Good Habits:

  • Put baby in the crib drowsy, but not totally asleep. This helps teach them to put themselves to sleep
  • If baby wakes before “goal wakeup time,” do everything in your power not to pick them up. You can offer a pacifier, rub their back, turn on some white noise to lull them back to sleep, or sit in the nursery to comfort them. This is a self soothing tactic.
  • Try to stay consistent with your schedule, at least for the first six months.
  • Develop a nighttime routine.

The book also talks about naps, but for the purposes of this post I just wanted to cover the nighttime sleep method.  The author recommends an hour in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon (between the second and third feedings), but it takes a bit of time to master the nap schedule. Again, the book is totally amazing, so if you want more details on any of these steps you can find it here.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below! Also check out our post on the BEST baby sleep tools for more on how to get your little bundle snoozing! Thank you so much for reading, and stay tuned for more mama adventures. Happy sleep training! <3 Lexi

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  1. mir | 4th Sep 17

    my problem is that my baby wakes up and just wants me to be her pacifier..meaning she uses me as a pacifier and doesnt even it from me shell fall right back asleep! and i tried calming her with a real pacifier but it didnt work.. she realizes its not me and gets even more upset to the point that she wakes up! any ideas?

    • maternityleague | 30th Nov 17

      Hi there! thanks for your comment, I’m sorry I’ve been out of commission for a bit! The author of the book actually addresses the “human pacifier” problem, although I can’t speak from experience. Are you putting your baby down awake but groggy? or is he/she usually sleeping when you put them in the crib? It sounds like it might be more an issue of self soothing , and book recommends putting baby down groggy as a self soothing exercise so if you’re not already doing that it could definitely help to start (although it might take some time to acclimate).

  2. Liz | 23rd Oct 17

    I know there’s a lot of methods and authors and that the subject isn’t the easiest one but my wife and I sleep trained our two kids with the same guide “How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone” by Susan Urban and it just went great. Step by step instructions on what to do and how to do it. What convinced us was the fact that the method is without CIO and that this guide is in a nutshell so it’s short. In an hour we knew how to deal with the problem.
    After a few days our both kids were able to fall asleep on their own (before only rocking), they stopped waking up every hour to eat at night and they started to nap longer (before training they both slept like 15 minutes and that was it – they were exhausted all day). So the method described in this guide seems to works on anything related to sleeping.
    I found the guide on I guess the author’s website:
    We tried it so we can really recommend it.

  3. Anna | 2nd Nov 17

    I am so tired lol
    Can I start a routine at 5 months?
    My baby boy is about to be 5 months old and he wakes up 2-4 times a night to eat. He was only waking up 1-2 times a night but as soon as he was 4 months it all went down hill.
    I am excited to start what you suggested in your post but was just wondering if I should do anything differently since he is older than what you mentioned.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    • maternityleague | 30th Nov 17

      Hi Anna! I’m so sorry your little one is keeping you up (that 4 month sleep regression is REAL), but I’m totally optimistic! The author claims you can apply this method successfully up to 18 months, it just might take some more time to break bad habits in older babies. I would love to hear how the training goes for you 🙂

  4. Diana | 7th Dec 17

    We haven’t read this book but this is exactly what we have been doing since she was 6 weeks old and it worked so great for us. During leaps, she doesn’t sleep through the night but it wasn’t terrible. She’d wake up once and could easily be soothed to sleep without picking her up. And now she is 8months1week and having the WORST sleep of life. She used to sleep at 7pm till 6am and then when we went through the 4th month she could only fall asleep at 9pm and that was fine for us too so we continued that all the way (9pm to 8am) but the past couple of weeks she refuses to sleep at 9pm. Even when she would go down between 8 to 9pm, she’d wake up after an hour and want to play. WIde awake like it was morning and nothing we do helps her go back to sleep. She gets 2 naps a day and she gets 4 bottles in 12 hours plus she’s on solids – small breakfast, proper lunch and dinner. So I don’t know what else we are doing wrong. I am at my wit’s end and going out of my mind. Any advice?? Thanks.

    • maternityleague | 10th Dec 17

      HI Diana! I’m sorry to hear that your little one is keeping you up! My dolly went through a slight regression around 8 months and it resolved itself. We had been a bit lax with her schedule leading up to the regression (missing naps, staying up late when we were out – being overtired can mess up baby’s rhythm), so we really cracked down re-adhered to her original schedule. Her schedule is 9-9 (food at 9,1,5,9) and naps at 11 and 3. For the first several days to a week, she fought me going down for naps and she’d wake up before her scheduled time in the morning and occasionally throughout the night. We left her paci in her crib and when she woke up, we’d let her cry/talk for a bit and she’d usually put herself back to sleep. We rode this out how the book advised (self soothing methods and the “very limited cio”) about a week later she was back on her grind! After she was back in a rhythm, we could be a little bit more lenient and now at almost 11 month, she’s still sleeping great 🙂 I hope this helps!

  5. Annie | 2nd Jan 18

    Hello my LO is 4 months old and is currently waking up twice a night. I know what the problem is, I haven’t taught him to self soothe and I do not put him down drowsy, he’s always fast asleep🙈. When I do try and put him down drowsy, his little head bobs up and down and he eventually wakes up because he sleeps on his front. I know it’s recommended for babies to sleep on their back, however this is my 5th child and only one of them has ever slept on their back, the other 4 just would not sleep unless on their front. I never sleep trained my first 3 children and my 4th, whom i did sleep train, is the only one who slept on her front so im wondering if it is harder for my LO to self soothe because he sleeps on his front? I would really appreciate any advice as to how I can teach him to self soothe whilst on his front. Would i use the same methods?? Please help!!
    I homeschool all my children and my 3rd and 4th kiddos, aged 2 and 3, are up bright and early at 7am so I need all the sleep I can get. I look forward to hearing any advice you can give.
    Thanking you, Annie xx

    • maternityleague | 4th Jan 18

      Hi Annie! First of all, BRAVO! You’re amazing for homeschooling all of those kiddos! If the problem is that baby is still learning to self soothe, I would put all of my focus on resolving that issue first… not just at bedtime but look for opportunities to implement self soothe training techniques during the day, especially for naps. IMO, sleeping position shouldn’t make much of a difference for self soothing. If you’re not already in a solid naptime/bedtime routine, I would definitely recommend adopting one. My daughter gets white noise, a pacifier and a safe blankie and takes almost every nap in her crib at around the same time each day – this might sound like a hassle, but it signals to her that it’s time to turn off and rest. It may take a few days to get baby acclimated to putting them self to sleep during naptime, but it’s well worth it (also – i used the limited crying technique outlined in the book which proved to be very effective and almost painless). Daytime routine 100% affects nighttime sleep, so if you can get baby comfortable with self soothing and work out the kinks during the day, you’ll have much more success at night. Implement a bedtime routine as well (my baby doesnt get a paci or white noise at night, but we put the paci within reach just in case she needs it) and enforce it the best you can while baby is mastering the naptime self soothing routine. Once you’ve mastered naptime, bedtime should be much easier. Best of luck with your little one!

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