sleep training step by step guide for first time moms

Looking for a sleep training step by step guide? Follow this step by step guide and haeve your baby sleeping independently in no time.

When I was pregnant I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to function much without sleep. Little did I know the adrenaline of being a mother allowed me to function with little sleep and take care of my baby at first.

sleep training step by step guide

But tiredness cached up to me quickly and eventually, I became one exhausted mother.

At this time I started researching different sleep training a baby and trying different things.

If you are exhausted or have decided to sleep train your baby but can’t decide where to start, here is a good place!

This post is all about sleep training step by step guide

the only guide you need to learn all about Sleep training baby, tips, tricks and everything in between

There are different sleep training baby methods you can try. The levels of crying are different for each and how to soothe your baby. You will need to test them and see what you feel comfortable doing.

I’m hoping that by the end this guide you understand the different alternatives to train your little one as well as getting some insight of other parents and what worked for them – including my experience too.

I will share the changes I made that worked for our family, changes suggested on the Ultimate Mom Tribe Group as well as tips suggested on a Sleep Training live Q&A I hosted with SleepGrace.

My case is a bit special because I was too weak to let my baby cry, so I chose what was easier for me, and although it didn’t take me three days to “train him”, I feel accomplished because I feel his body is now ready to handle a full night sleep and we are both more rested during the day.

I knew for me I was ok to make this process a longer easier transition in exchange to leas crying, but if you are desperate for sleep just know there are ways you can get faster results.

If there is one thing I want you to get out of this sleep training step by step guide post is this: At the end of the day you have to create your own sleep training plan for your baby.

Know that it’s ok that you don’t follow the exact sleep training baby plan bit by bit as the experts suggest.

Take a little bit of this, a little bit of that… try different things and see what techniques you are comfortable with and create your own process.

and guess what…. eventually, all babies sleep through the night. So don’t be too hard on yourself.

Ready? Let’s do this!

sleep training step by step guide

When can You start Sleep Training a baby?

Is it OK for my 1-month-old to sleep through the night?

How long should a 1-month-old sleep at night?

Most experts recommend starting sleep training a baby between 4 and 6 months old. By about 4 months, babies have typically started to develop a regular sleep-wake cycle and can eliminate the night feedings.

Infants up to 3 months old should get 14–17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation.

If you have mom friends with babies that say they’re little one “sleeps through the night” basically means 5 straight hours Of sleep. You should expect some night wakings for feeding. Your baby is too little and still needs those calorie intakes during the night.

If your baby has hit the 4-6 months then get ready because you can start to sleep training your baby.

No time? Check out this quick sleep training step by step guide Video tips

STEP 1: Create a Healthy Bedtime Routine

Experts and moms swear that the key to a good night’s sleep is to create a routine. Routines are usually 30-60minutes depending on the age of your baby and your preference.

Start the night in the baby’s Room

I knew that if I started my night in the baby’s room eventually when he slept through the night he would end up in his room. This would avoid me having to then train him to get out of my bed and sleep in his own room.

The key to a bedtime routine is consistent: Repeat the same thing every night. In the same order

Create a bedtime routine where your baby falls asleep in his room, starts to get comfortable in his environment – no matter if he wakes up at night and you end up taking him to your bed – the importance is that he starts his night routine in his bedroom.

Everyone’s routines look different and I did what worked for us.

My Bedtime Routine:

  • One hour before bed I give him his bottle. So that he does not associate milk with falling asleep.
  • I say the following chant as we walk from wherever we are in the house to the bathroom “goodnight mom, goodnight dad, good night brother, goodnight <dogs>, good night grandpa, good night grandma, goodnight everybody” I use the same words, do the same actions so that your baby starts associating this with sleep.
  • Bathtime – no special routine here
  • Head over to the room where the lights are dimmed and I change him. My voice is lower, soft and slow.
  • Grab his lovey – Mr. Bunny – his lovey is a comfort item for him and recommended to be used as a healthy sleep aid
  • I sit in the rocking chair and read a book (I used the same books in the same order for a while to create a routine)
  • Lights off, night light on, sound machine on (now that he is older I use lullaby music)
  • Baby falls asleep

Step 2: Create a sleep Ambiance

Creating a sleep ambiance is important to falling asleep and staying asleep. Make sure the room is dark – use blackout curtains – and a sound machine to block out any outside noise that can disrupt their sleep.

How cool are these portable blackout curtains! it even has a suction cups.

This is the sound machine I use (I have the old version)- I also use the projector feature when the baby is fuzzy and needs to relax in bed

Should newborn babies sleep in the dark?

Light signals daytime to baby, so blocking out the sun will help keep her snoozing. In fact, cut out all the light you can. That includes the night-light—babies aren’t likely to fear the dark until at least 18 months. (Source:

I learned about this also after the sleep training live session, so I turned off the nightlight the moment he falls asleep and I leave the room.

and guess what, I did see a change in sleep patterns and he slept more.

What to wear to Promote BEtter sleep

What should my baby wear to sleep?

Babies tend to feel colder than we do, so experts suggest you dress them up in one more later than you wold dress yourself.

You can use PJs that have snaps or zippers, I always say to try both and see what you like best. When you have to wake up in the middle of the night you could hate having to snap a million snaps and hope to get them align properly, or you could hate having to get your baby naked using zipper PJs.

you know what I wished I had more of? Pjs with zippers that has openings at the top and bottom. They are harder to find but worth it!

Do babies sleep longer when swaddled?

Babies have spasms during their REM sleep that wake them up at night. My baby hated to be swaddled and would wiggle himself out of every swaddle blanket I attempted to put on him.

I found a miracle swaddle (love to dream swaddle up) and now it is my number one recommended product to every single mom. I saw a tremendous difference. He slept longer, he was able to move his arms and soothe himself with his hands without being awake by the hand spasm.

When should we stop swaddling your baby?

If you use a regular swaddle it is advised to stop using it at 4 months as babies become more mobile and can get out of the swaddle, making a loose blanket in the crib a safety hazard.

If you use the love to drew a swaddle up, It is best to stop using it once your baby learns to turn over.

When can I introduce a baby blanket?

Soft bedding in a crib – like blankets and pillows – increases the risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

If you feel your baby is waking up at night because of being cold, try putting a onesie under the PJ for an extra layer of warmth.

If your baby is still waking up at night after all of the above tips, then keep on reading…

Remove Sleep Associations

That sounds harsh… we want our babies to need us but this one is for a good cause!

There were two things I read that resonated with me and I tested it out and found it to be oh so true!

  1. Your baby will be wake up if he wakes up in a different place than where he fell asleep at first: My sister used to explain it to me like this: Imagine you fall asleep in Mommy’s arms, cozy being rocked in a chair, next thing you know you wake up on the kitchen floor. How did you get there? where is mommy? you freak out and wake up trying to make sense of it all. Ok ok your baby won’t wake up in the middle of the kitchen floor but you get the point, he will wake up somewhere else.
  2. Your baby will want to fall asleep ( each time ) he wakes up at night the same way he fell asleep at first. What does this mean? What if your baby nurses to sleep, then he is going to want to nurse every time he Wakes up at night which is when he completes a sleep cycle (about two hours).

Not all sleep associations are bad

Use sleep associations that your baby can recreate when he wakes up at night. – a lovey, or a pacifier (as long as he can find it) – are good sleep associations as he will be able to find them when he wakes up at night.

Mr. Bunny is his lovey – like a security blanket that allows him to feel comfortable and in good company while on his crib

Step 3: Falling asleep on their own

#1 Sleep training Rule: Place them in their crib awake

Ok, I think this is where most of us struggle with sleep training. It is so hard to put the in the crib awake and watching them call our name and cry.

And after all the research we see that the key to a full night sleep is how they fall asleep.

I will give you the hacks that I used to make my life easier and that led me to (a longer timeframe) for my baby to sleep through the night. – longer timeframe because I was too weak to let my child cry – even for more than 30 seconds.

SleepGrace, the sleep trainer that hosted our live Q&A suggested to put your baby in the crib awake and not wait till the baby fell asleep on the boob while breastfeeding, so to remove the association between feeding and sleep.

To be honest, I wasn’t able to do that. I had to create my own ways to survive the nighttime routine.

Since I breastfeed he tends to fall asleep on the boob. The moment I put him in his crib, he would feel it, wake up and I had to start all over again.


My Trick to transfer to the crib without Him waking up

When he was little and still using his crib, I used to place him over a giant stuffed elephant and sandwich him between the elephant and myself. This way he didn’t feel like he was falling asleep and suddenly wake up. Then, I would press my hand down towards the elephant and slip my hand out. Somehow, this worked as his head was supported and the elephant allowed me to create an opening without him noticing and taking my hand out.

I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do – as the training is to get baby to fall asleep on their own – but, when you are desperate, you have to get creative and this worked for me.

Sleep training baby techniques

Getting to baby to fall aka wow on their own is hard, and there are many methods out there that moms have used and sleep trainers recommend.

Try a few each one until you find the one that works for you. The trick to success is to be consistent no matter what technique you use.

Fading Method

This sleep training for your baby method is the one that I like the most, but it does require effort and discipline and it might take longer than other methods. “Continue with whatever method you were using to help your baby fall asleep (such as rocking or nursing), but decrease the amount of time you spend doing it until, in theory, you don’t have to do it at all. This is a great technique for reducing crying but unfortunately, many parents find it difficult to sustain”

Chair method

Stay in the room with your baby until she falls asleep. Place baby down drowsy but awake, sit in a chair near the crib until baby falls asleep, then gradually move farther and farther away from the crib until eventually, you’re out of the room.

Cry-It-Out, CIO or Extinction METHOD

This is one of the most debated training methods out there. It involves letting your baby “cry it out,” if they cry at bedtime or the middle of the night until they eventually learn how to soothe themselves to sleep.

Pickup Put Down

Place baby down drowsy but awake, when you hear the cry go in right away, pick up baby, pat/shush until calm and place down awake. It is important to NOT hold the baby to sleep. Rinse and repeat.

Check and console MEthod

You want to continue to check on your baby at preset intervals but never feed or rock them to sleep. After going through your bedtime routine, put your baby in their crib, leave the room and wait a specific amount of time (say, a minute). Then go in and reassure your baby with words like “Mommy loves you” or some kind of touch, such as a rub or pat. This method is best for babies 7 months or older.

Silent Return

This one is great for those who wait until the toddler years to train them to sleep.

Every time your toddler leaves his room you silently return them to bed using only your “sleep mantra”. It’s important to NOT talk to your toddler other than calmly repeating your sleep mantra.  If they don’t leave their room you do not go in

Step 4: How to deal With Nightime Wakings

Some nights my baby used to wake every hour, others like a clock at 4 am he would wake up asking for milk. If he would wake up every hour there was usually something bothering him.

Baby Waking Up Every Hour? Try This

Make sure you go through the checklist and not be like me… I was so sleepy that I just keep rocking my baby or breastfeeding him without checking all of the below only to realize after a few hours of doing this that he had a soiled diaper or he was just too hot.

  • If baby wakes up after an hour of putting him down, I learned that (it is very common) that baby could still have gas. If this is your case, spend a longer time burping your baby.
  • Acid Reflux could be an issue – some babies get discomfort when sleeping completely flat. Try tilting the mattress by adding a pillow under the mattress to tilt the bed and placing their head in the side where the pillow is at.
  • Temperature issues – Are they too hot, too cold? check the room. In general, experts recommend baby’s room temperatures be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the equivalent of 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.
  • Diaper Check – Check the diaper, is it too full and tight? did he poop? change the diaper just in case 🙂
  • Sick – Could your baby be teething? maybe some gripe water is needed. Does he have a fever? he might be feeling sick.

waking up for Nightime feedings? Try This

Should you feed the baby? should you tap them to sleep? when is it ok to stop the night feedings? and what about dream feed, does it work?

let’s slow down and take it one step at a time…

Should you Dream Feed?

Should feeding my baby right before bed will help him sleep longer?

Some moms have suggested that doing dream-feeding has helped them. Dreamfeed means feeding your baby while he is asleep right before you go to sleep to give you some extra hours to sleep.

This a myth that has now been proven not to be true according to Actually, some babies could have a bad reaction when overfeeding them right before bedtime.

I never did the dream-feed because my baby would immediately wake up when I would wake him up to feed him. What I did do – very successful- was to change his diaper before I went to bed and luckily I managed to learn how to do it without waking him. Having that fresh diaper helped him sleep longer.

Do you burp the baby after dream feed?

Yes. You always want to burp a baby after a dream feed – or any feed – before putting her back down on the back. You don’t want gas to then wake your baby up.

Increase calorie intake during the day

Some babies are so entertained during the day that they don’t want to waste time eating, so they leave the nighttime to compensate for those calories they didn’t eat.

You want to make sure your baby takes most of his calories during the day. Ensure your baby is drinking enough milk during the day to make the transition to stop the milk intake at night easier.

My sleep association issue according to experts was that my baby was associating sleeping with sucking and often needed me to breastfeed to fall asleep again.

I read a gentle technique that suggested to allow him to breastfeed and notice his sucking. When he would stop for 5 seconds or longer I would put my index finger on the edge of his lip and he would remove my nipple on his own. Sometimes it didn’t work, that meant he wasn’t ready to let go – and that was ok – I waited a few more minutes and tried it again.

What ended up happening after a few days was that he didn’t need to breastfeed for so long. Each day, the time was reduced. Some nights he even skipped some nighttime wakings.

When should I stop night feedings?

How many hours can a baby go without eating at night?

By 5 months and his weight being 15 pounds, your baby no longer physically needs the nighttime feedings. If you are breastfeeding, consult your doctor or lactation consultant to ensure your milk supply is ok during the day.

Do formula-fed babies sleep better?

Experts say, that during the first few months of life, formulafed babies wake less often at night, take more naps, and sleep for longer stretches than nursing babies. That’s because formula takes more time and effort to digest

Baby Waking up Crying? Try This

Did you know there are two different types of cry a baby does at night? and did you know that sometimes they cry in their sleep?

Next time that they cry in the middle of the night, wait a few minutes. If they continue to cry, go in and do your sleep training method of choice. Sometimes, after a few minutes they will stop crying and go back to sleep – even if you don’t do any sleep training method – believe me, I tried it and I was so surprised!

What sleep training baby method will work for you?

There are many factors that affect sleep at night, for the best chance at success when you are ready to sleep train just make sure that you are giving enough calories during the day, that you have a bedtime routine down and that there are no physical changes happening such as teething or fighting a cold.

Try different methods until you find what works for you, and if you can’t seem to stay with one method just know that all babies eventually learn not to sleep and if you want to speed up that learning, know that it is ok to ask for some support. Talk to a sleep consultant, they will tailor a routine and method for your specific family dynamic and needs.

You got this mama!

in the meantime, lots of coffee and nap at noon when your baby is taking one of those naps… that’s what kept me going and recharging my energy during the day.