To sleep train or not to sleep train?

Dearest Tunesters, today’s topic is one that I know you think about ALL the time – SLEEP.


Believe me, I was right there with you. I was blessed with three terrible sleepers. Apparently there are miracle babies out there who sleep through the night from the get-go. I didn’t get one of those.


I obsessed about sleep and how to get it with each of my babies. I read the books, I googled, I spoke to specialists, I experimented with methods, and I obsessed some more.


If you’ve got a baby who doesn’t sleep well, most likely you’re wondering two things:


  1. Should I sleep train or not?
  2. (And if so,) What method should I use?


Here’s my answer to these questions which is based on my experience as a mom, my professional experience with you all for the last 10 years, and some of the latest research.


The THRESHOLD theory


What I’ve realized is this: We all have a different threshold as to how little sleep we can tolerate in those first years with our baby.


Some reach their threshold in the first months. They realize that they can’t be good parents unless they get more sleep. Perhaps they are also working, perhaps they have other kids at home, maybe they are single parents, or maybe they’ve noticed that the lack of sleep is having an affect not only on their physical well being but on their emotional health.


I was in that category with my second. I reached my threshold quite early.


Some reach their threshold later in the first year. Although they absolutely want to sleep more, they aren’t ready to take extreme measures to make that happen right away. They want to ride it out a bit more and see if the baby will find a sleep pattern on their own.


I was in that category with my first. I reached my threshold at around 8 months (he did not find a sleep pattern on his own ?).


Some reach their threshold a lot later. They’ve made some peace with the idea that they won’t be getting 7 unobstructed hours of sleep for a while. They can handle the exhaustion and have found ways to maintain their own health despite it.


Are you wondering what camp you’re in? Don’t stress. Google won’t have the answer for you. Your friends won’t have the answer for you.


When you reach your threshold depends on many factors including your home situation, your health, how much help you have, and your baby’s temperament.


But here’s the important part –

When you hit your threshold, YOU’LL KNOW. 


You’ll feel compelled to take action and it won’t even be a question. You will no longer be asking anyone who will listen – “should I or shouldn’t I?”


And that means that until you hit your threshold, you can relax. You don’t need to obsess about it any longer. If you’re going back and forth about it, it means what for whatever reason you simply are not ready.


So give yourself a break. You’re job is simply to listen to that voice inside you that says – not yet, or NOW.


Here’s what I want to scream from the rooftops – 


  1. There is no conclusive evidence on the best time to sleep train. 
  2. No matter when you take action to help your baby sleep through the night, it’s going to be HARD.


There is no RIGHT TIME to do it other than your own gauge.


And then the only question that remains is: Which method?


The fact is that no matter which sleep training method you decide on, it’s not going to be fun. Your baby will fight back whether they are 4 months or 2 years old and it will break your heart at any stage. There is no evidence that one method works better or is better for your baby. It comes down to you using the method that feels right for YOU and your family.


So to recap – 

  1. Noticing when you reach your threshold is key. It’s what makes you a good parent. It means you’re noticing what you need in order to be available for your baby.

  2. Until you get there, lay off the obsessing. Let yourself enjoy this time with your baby,  even the wake ups. With my third I fully surrendered to feeding through the night in a way I didn’t with my first two.
  3. Once you are ready to sleep train pick a method that feels right. They are basically variations on the same method ranging from more hard core to less hard core.  Unfortunately no matter which you choose, it’s going to be hard on everyone.


Whether you are planning on training or not, this post might help get more sleep you in the meantime and put good practices into place.


So what do you think dear Tunester? Do you agree with my Threshold Theory? COMMENT below and let me know.


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