When it comes to babies and young toddlers, it’s hard to know which sleep issues are “just a phase” and which need a little bit of intervention. Certainly, there are plenty of sleep phases (hi, 4-month sleep regression!) that we as parents often just have to power through, but if your baby is consistently having one (or more!) of the below sleep issues, it’s a pretty good sign that they would benefit from some parental guidance in the form of sleep training.
1. Your baby cannot fall asleep or fall back asleep without being held, rocked, or fed.
If your baby needs to be held, rocked, or fed in order to fall asleep at bedtime or nap time or to fall back asleep when they wake in the middle of the night, they are relying on what are called “sleep props.” Unfortunately, babies don’t tend to give up these sleep props on their own, so it’s up to us as parents to help them transition away by teaching them the skill of independent sleep through a sleep training program.
Independent sleep is a skill, which means there are effective ways to teach it as well as ineffective ways. The method shared in Tinyhood’s Sleep 101: The Baby Sleep Solution (4-24 months) was not only designed to minimize tears, it also works fast: most families report their child is sleeping through the night in 4 nights or less.
2. Your baby is taking short naps.
This is another one of those things that is often a phase… until it’s not. Until 6 or 7 months of age, some babies just aren’t great nappers, and struggle to take a nap that’s over 45 minutes long. But if your baby is older than that and still struggling to take age-appropriate naps, that’s a sign they are having trouble connecting their sleep cycles and would benefit from sleep training.
3. Your baby is waking up during the night.
While we just can’t expect our newborns to sleep 10-12 hours every night (though that would be awesome), as your baby gets to be 4 months of age, long stretches of uninterrupted sleep become a more reasonable expectation (and are necessary for healthy development!). So if your baby is still waking and crying out for you multiple times a night at 4 months old and beyond, it may be time to consider a sleep training method that teaches your baby how to connect their sleep cycles without help from you.
4. Your baby seldom sleeps past 6 a.m.
Early wakings plague even the best little sleepers from time-to-time, but if your baby rarely sleeps until 6 a.m., they may actually benefit from sleep training, even if they are otherwise sleeping through the night. That’s because at its core, sleep training is about helping your baby learn to fall asleep AND fall back asleep 100% on their own, even if they wake up when their sleep pressure is lower between 4 and 6:30 a.m.
5. Your bedtime routine is a drawn-out process with lots of tears.
This is a sleep issue many parents may not even realize is a sleep issue. But if you have been doing your best to put baby down “drowsy but awake” at bedtime and still finding it’s a nightly battle, that’s a sign you both may need a little more structure to your routine. Tinyhood’s Sleep 101 class goes way beyond the typical “drowsy but awake” advice, and shows you exactly what elements to include (and not include) in your bedtime routine, as well as when to transfer baby into their crib so they will be prepared to fall asleep calmly, quietly, and 100% on their own. By the end, your bedtime routine will take a much shorter amount of time and be 20-30 minutes tops.
Do any (or all!) of these sound familiar? Our Sleep 101 class can help. The method taught here has helped over 10,000 families resolve all these sleep issues and more. Taught by a certified baby & toddler sleep expert who has helped 10,000 families, this class walks you step-by-step through a proven method and shows you how to troubleshoot issues all sleep problems along the way. Soon, you’ll be able to stop wondering when this “phase” will end and all start enjoying better sleep and some much-deserved rest.
About our Expert
Natalie Willes is a certified baby & toddler sleep expert who has helped 10,000 families worldwide. She roots her method in safety & science to help empower children & bring families the rest they all deserve.