Are you wanting to start sleep training your 5 month old? If so, you're in the right place because I'm going to tell you what we've done for our twins that has worked.
Up until we started sleep training, our girl's sleep history was rocky. She started sleeping good when she was one month old corrected. (Note: if you're not familiar with how corrected age works, read this post.)
She slept in a swaddle until she was three months corrected. She started getting close to rolling so we switched her to a Halo sleep sack, which you can purchase here. She slept okay in that until she was 4 months old. At this point, she slept terribly. She was up every 2 hours and needed 1-2 night feedings. Once she was 5 months old, we were completely sleep deprived and desperate to get sleep.
My husband reached out to his friend who has twins and he experienced the same thing until he found The Sleepeasy Solution book. We immediately bought it and started reading it.
Our boy, on the other hand, has always been a good sleeper, averaging 8 hours a night. After reading the book and applying it, he now sleeps 11 hours a night.
Now our babies sleep on a much better and more manageable sleep schedule.
What Is Sleep Training?
"The term "sleep training" is an umbrella term that refers to a spectrum of approaches to help babies learn to fall asleep by themselves." source
Since these are our first kids, we really didn't know much about sleep training and have had to learn as we go along. Nobody on either side of our family had any tips to help us in this department.
Related Content: Everything You Need To Know About Baby Swaddling
While what we were experiencing was normal, we quickly learned that babies can start sleeping 11 hours through the night once they meet a few criteria, which I'll cover below.
When Should You Start Sleep Training?
According to The Sleepeasy Solution, you shouldn't start a sleep training program unless you meet these five criteria.
1. Has mom just returned to work or is she planning to soon?
If mom, or whoever generally takes care of the baby is about to back to work or just went back to work, then it's not a good time to start. Wait for your baby to adjust to this new change before starting to work on their sleep.
2. Will your schedule allow you to focus on sleep learning for the next week or so?
Jennifer recommends setting aside 7-10 days to implement the least cry approach.
3. Has your child just learned an important new skill or is he going through an important transition?
If your child has experienced a major developmental milestone in the last 7-10 days, don't work on sleep training yet. Examples of developmental milestones are: rolling, crawling, pulling to a stand, walking, and talking up a storm.
4. Does your child weigh enough to sleep through the night with a reduction or elimination of feedings?
If your child is both 5 months old and weighs 15 pounds, then you can start sleep training. When it came to feeding our kids, we didn't get good answers from their pediatrician or nutritionist. We learned an excellent way to determine how much food our babies needed. Take their weight and divide it by three. That formula will tell you how many ounces they need per feeding.
5. Are both the parents and baby healthy?
Sleep training requires work and it's best done when both you and your baby are healthy. If your baby is cutting a tooth, wait till after the tooth has fully grown to begin sleep learning. The reason why is because pain prevents a child from sleeping well.
When our children are teething, we give them Baby Tylenol. Although it's based on their weight, make sure you talk to your pediatrician to determine how much to give them.
When our children are teething, we give them Baby Tylenol. Although it’s based on their weight, make sure you talk to your pediatrician to determine how much to give them.
Sleep Training Methods
There are lots of different sleep training methods out there. Below are seven of the most popular methods. Just because one works for someone you know, you need to find the one that works best for you and your baby.
1. Least Cry Approach
This is the approach that Jennifer Waldburger, a sleep consultant, teaches in The Sleepeasy Solution and the one that has worked well for our twins. By using this method, your baby can start to sleep 11-12 hours at night. You’ll learn how to create a bedtime routine, wean your baby off of night feedings and teach your baby how to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep without your assistance.
2. Cry It Out/Extinction
From What To Expect we learn that this sleep training technique involves putting your baby to bed and allowing her to fuss or cry until she falls asleep – without help from you. It also means that you won’t go back into her room to comfort her until she goes to sleep on her own.
3. Chair Method
Baby Sleep Site lays out the steps for the chair method, which are:
- Put a chair very near the crib, bassinet, or bed and sit on the chair as your baby falls asleep. The goal is not to help your child fall asleep, nor to help her calm down necessarily, depending on how you implement it.
- You are generally not supposed to give your child any attention. The reason you are in the chair is only to reassure them that you are there with them and have not left them alone.
- Each night you move the chair farther and farther away from the crib until you are right outside the door until eventually, you no longer need the chair at all.
4. Ferber method
Dr. Richard Ferber created this sleep training method. "It involves "baby-training" children to self-soothe by allowing the child to cry for a predetermined amount of time before receiving external comfort."
5. Wake and sleep technique
Dr. Harvey Karp came up with this technique and these are the steps for it:
- Every evening at bedtime, swaddle your little one, turn on rough white noise as loud as a shower, feed and burp her, let her fall asleep in your arms and then lay her down.
- BUT, right after you slide your munchkin into bed, rouse her until her eyes open (tickle her neck, scratch her feet, etc).
- After a few seconds she will close her eyes again and she’ll slide back into slumberland.
- If she fusses, she may be hungry or uncomfortable, so pick her up to feed and calm her, but be sure to wake her again when you put her back down.
6. Fading Method
“With fading, parents continue to use whatever method they’ve been using to put their baby to sleep (i.e., rocking, nursing, singing, pacifier, etc.), but they gradually decrease the amount of time they spend doing it until, eventually, they won’t have to do it at all.” source
7. No Cry Methods
There are a variety of no cry methods. One such way involves “co-sleeping, rocking and nursing your baby to sleep, and other forms of physical closeness to create positive sleep associations now and healthy sleep habits down the road.”
It should be noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the practice of co-sleeping because it increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). In 2016 they said the following, “Infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents – but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface — to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths.”
I hope these baby sleep tips help you and your infant sleep much better. Baby sleep training can be hard, but it is worth it to even get a few more minutes of sleep. Hopefully you can get a few hours more though.