This is one of the most common questions we are asked here at A to Z Sleep Solutions, especially in the East Valley (Gilbert, Tempe, and Scottsdale). When can we start? How will we know our baby is old enough? How can we be confident my baby is ready?
Here at A to Z Sleep Solutions we recommend starting sleep training no earlier than four months. For the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life, their circadian rhythm hasn’t fully developed, and they are still sorting out whether it is night or day. The circadian rhythm is our biological clock that is like a 24-hour internal clock continually ticking. The clock tells our body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake. When the clock is developed, and working correctly, the brain sends a sign to the body to release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) when it senses darkness, and when it perceives light, the mind tells the body to be awake! The underdevelopment of the circadian rhythm is why your baby spreads their sleep evenly through the night and day when they are in their first 12 weeks.
For information on newborn sleep, visit the newborn section on our site, as there ARE things we can set up to help your newborn form that great sleep foundation. There are also so many sleep myths out there about newborn sleep that we have put to rest!
Around four months is when babies hit their first regression, this means their sleep-wake cycles tend to look more like adults, so we like to call this a PROgression. ☺ When this happens parents usually think, “oh no, my baby used to be such a great sleeper!” We call this accidental parenting. Your baby WAS (and probably still is) a good sleeper and mostly because his sleep cycles were much longer (4-6 hours) and now they are anywhere between 45min-2 hours. It’s a defense mechanism that our sleep cycles are short, as it’s during this short awake period where we can adjust our head, the temperature of our room, etc. As adults, we know how to link our sleep cycles much better, so we don’t notice the wakings. So, if your baby doesn’t know how to put themselves back to sleep, they are waking and crying for you every time they fail to link a sleep cycle.
Lastly, we know that after 16 weeks our little ones have the ability to self-soothe, without that, sleep training doesn’t work. Therefore it is essential to set our babies up for success by waiting until they are four months of age.