Sleep Training Guide for Babies 6 Months and Older: Techniques, Methods, and Helpful Tips

Indeed, it is a fact that parents bear the responsibility of making numerous choices on behalf of their children. Even seemingly simple matters, such as how a child falls asleep, involve a wide range of options and varying opinions. Among parents, sleep training in particular often sparks diverse viewpoints.

Regarding sleep training, we maintain a neutral stance. It is entirely up to you to determine if it suits you and your family. We refrain from making that decision for you, but we can provide you with the necessary information to make the best choice for your baby’s sleep. Read on for sleep training tips for babies aged 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 months.

Sleep Training Guide for Babies 6 Months and Older: Techniques, Methods, and Helpful Tips
Sleep Training Guide for Babies 6 Months and Older: Techniques, Methods, and Helpful Tips

Can you engage in sleep training with 6-month-olds and older babies?

In short—yes, you can. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), after reaching 4 months of age, it is recommended to put your baby in their sleep environment when they are drowsy but not yet asleep. This advice holds merit: Once children learn to fall asleep independently, they tend to have an easier time falling asleep and experience fewer nighttime awakenings [2]. Consequently, disruptions to sleep decrease, resulting in more rest for the entire family.

However, achieving the state of being “drowsy but awake” is not always straightforward. Many infants are accustomed to being rocked, held, or fed to facilitate their transition into sleep. Shifting to a routine where they are left to sleep on their own can be challenging, especially if a strong sleep association has been established. Depending on their temperament, they may encounter difficulties with the new routine, leading to stress for both the baby and their caregiver.

Uncertain about what to do? Sleep training methods can provide a framework for helping your baby learn the new skill of falling asleep independently. Some techniques are more gradual, aiming to minimize tears as much as possible. Other strategies prioritize speed, even if they entail more crying.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to pursue sleep training rests with you and your family. If you opt to proceed with sleep training, you can find a method that suits you and your baby, guiding you through the process. Conversely, some families may find that they already have satisfactory sleep arrangements or that sleep training is not a suitable choice for them—and that is perfectly acceptable too!

Sleep training methods for babies between 6 and 11 months old

Although there are various variations for each method, here’s a brief explanation of the fundamental concept behind popular sleep training strategies:

Gentle methods

Gentle sleep training methods aim to gradually reduce the baby’s dependence on external assistance to fall asleep. Techniques such as “fading” and “pick up put down” are used, where you actively try to calm your baby as they learn a new way of falling asleep. This approach is favored by parents who want to minimize tears as much as possible, even if the process takes longer.

For example, if your baby typically falls asleep while being fed, the process begins by introducing rocking instead of feeding. Then, you gradually decrease the amount of movement and eventually place your baby in the crib while they are still awake. Throughout this process, you remain nearby to provide support. Eventually, you work on removing physical touch and, eventually, your presence as a sleep association.

Chair method

The chair method is another gradual approach to sleep training. You sit in a chair next to your child’s crib while they learn to fall asleep independently. Over time, you gradually move the chair further away from the crib and closer to the door, ensuring that you’re still in the room with the child but not in direct contact.

The goal of this sleep training method is to stay in the room with your baby until they fall asleep, until eventually, your presence is no longer necessary for them to drift off. This method is often used as a follow-up to the fading method. It is considered a gentle way to reach a point where you can leave the room before your little one is fully asleep.

Ferber method

The popular Ferber method involves a “graduated extinction” technique. This strategy entails gradually increasing the length of time between visits, starting from 3 minutes on the first night and extending the intervals from there. Some variations may use a fixed interval of 10-15 minutes, and parents may choose to pick up their baby or stay in the room to offer comfort. This method is preferred by parents who desire faster results and are comfortable with allowing their baby to cry for defined periods.

The Ferber method is sometimes seen as a variation of “cry-it-out” (CIO) since it involves leaving the baby in their sleep space and permitting them to cry for specific durations. However, unlike total extinction “cry-it-out,” the parent typically returns at regular intervals to attempt to soothe the baby before leaving again.

Cry it out (CIO)

CIO is a total extinction method of sleep training that involves leaving the baby to fall asleep independently without any interventions to comfort them. In other words, after completing the bedtime routine, you place your baby in the crib while they are still awake and leave the room, allowing them to fall asleep on their own. This method is often chosen by parents seeking a quick solution, but who find that check-ins for calming actually upset the baby more than leaving them alone.

Some babies may fall asleep within 10 minutes using this method, while others may cry for longer periods. While this applies to all sleep training strategies, it is especially important to ensure that your baby’s needs are met before starting this method (e.g., they are fed, dry, not in physical discomfort) and that they are developmentally capable of falling asleep without assistance. We recommend using a video monitor and conducting regular safety check-ins to ensure your baby remains secure.

How long does it take to sleep train babies aged 6 months and older?

The duration of sleep training can vary, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. The timeframe for seeing improvement largely depends on the chosen method and your child’s temperament. Generally, noticeable progress is observed within 3 to 4 nights when using gradual or total extinction techniques. However, gentle methods often require more time. Regardless of the approach, consistency is crucial when attempting any sleep training technique.

Acquiring the ability to fall asleep independently is similar to learning any other new skill—it is normal to encounter some challenges before making progress. If the initial attempt is not successful, don’t be discouraged. Try switching to another technique or combining approaches until you find the right one that works for your child. The key objective is to provide your child with ample opportunities to practice and master the skill of falling asleep on their own.

Sleep training tips for babies aged 6 months and older:

Tip #1: Establish a consistent bedtime routine

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend implementing a bedtime routine for your little one. Bedtime routines act as a sleep-time signal for children, indicating that it’s time to conclude the day and drift off to sleep. Consistently following these routines can improve your baby’s sleep and enhance the overall functioning of your family. It’s a worthwhile investment!

Tip #2: Follow an age-appropriate schedule

Babies who are overtired often cry more at bedtime and have restless sleep. Conversely, babies who are “under-tired” may struggle to fall asleep because they haven’t accumulated enough sleep pressure. Therefore, it is essential to determine the optimal bedtime for your little one, as it can significantly facilitate the sleep training process.

Tip #3: Divide sleep training into stages

If your baby is experiencing sleep difficulties both at night and during the day, it may be tempting to address all sleep periods simultaneously. However, attempting to tackle everything at once can be overwhelming and result in increased overtiredness, leading to more crying and night awakenings. It’s like trying to drink water from a firehose! Instead, consider breaking the process down into smaller steps.

Start with bedtime alone. By successfully establishing a routine for bedtime, you can often reduce night wakings without directly addressing them. Once you achieve success at bedtime, you can proceed to work on naps. While this approach may require more time, it ultimately leads to greater manageability and consistency.

Tip #4: Stay committed

Teaching healthy sleep habits is a long-term commitment. Once your little one has learned how to fall asleep independently, it is crucial to consistently reinforce this skill to maintain their sleep patterns. It’s understandable that you may resort to rocking or feeding your baby to sleep during times of illness or while on vacation. However, keep in mind that these deviations may temporarily disrupt your baby’s sleep progress.

Can you sleep train babies aged 6 months and older for naps?

Absolutely! Many babies find it more challenging to adjust their routine during the day, but you can address their naps through sleep training. You have the option to tackle one nap at a time or work on all the naps together. If you prefer a gradual approach, start with the first nap of the day. For babies who take three naps, it’s often recommended to focus on sleep training for the first two naps only, as the last one can be more difficult and lead to frustration without much sleep.

During nap sleep training, give it about an hour. If your little one hasn’t fallen asleep by then, take a break for 30 to 60 minutes. Remember to go through the naptime routine again to signal that it’s time to rest. If your baby still doesn’t nap after the second attempt, simply skip it for that day and move on. You may need to adjust bedtime slightly earlier if naps are shorter or skipped.

How to sleep train twins aged 6 months and older?

To facilitate faster progress with sleep training and minimize the chances of one twin waking the other, you can try separating them for 3 to 4 nights. In households with two parents, each parent can take charge of putting one twin to bed and handling nighttime awakenings. Alternatively, you can work on sleep training one twin at a time, starting with the “easier” one, and potentially separate them for about a week.

What to do if sleep training your 6 to 11-month-old baby is not effective

First, ensure that your baby is consistently falling asleep independently at night before determining if the technique is working or not.

If you encounter difficulties during the process, it can be helpful to put your baby in their crib while they are slightly more awake. This way, they won’t associate falling asleep with parental assistance. This tip is especially beneficial if your little one frequently wakes up during the night, despite initially falling asleep without assistance.

If you continue to struggle with your baby’s sleep, it may be worthwhile to seek expert assistance. Consult your pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical issues that could be affecting sleep. Once medical concerns are addressed, you can consider obtaining a personalized sleep plan through Huckleberry Premium.

Conclusion: Sleep training for babies aged 6 months and older

If your baby relies on assistance to fall asleep and you feel it is impacting your family’s overall rest, sleep training can be a suitable solution. Numerous studies have shown its effectiveness in improving sleep. Additionally, once your baby reaches 6 months of age, they should be capable of consistently falling asleep independently without parental intervention.

However, it’s important to note that there isn’t a single “correct” sleep training method or approach to help your baby sleep better. The most suitable method for your family depends on your unique circumstances, parenting style, and your child’s sleep patterns and temperament.

Sleep training babies aged 6+ months FAQ

Q: What is a sample schedule for a 6-month-old?

Every baby’s schedule may vary, but a sample schedule for a 6-month-old could be:

– 7:00 AM: Wake up and feeding

– 8:30 AM: Morning nap (usually around 1-2 hours)

– 10:00 AM: Wake up and feeding

– 12:30 PM: Afternoon nap (usually around 1-2 hours)

– 2:30 PM: Wake up and feeding

– 4:30 PM: Short catnap (around 30 minutes)

– 6:00 PM: Feeding and start winding down for bedtime

– 7:00 PM: Bedtime

Q: How many naps should a 6-month-old take?

At 6 months old, most babies typically take 3 naps per day. However, some babies may transition to 2 longer naps during the day.

Q: How long should a 6-month-old nap?

Naps for a 6-month-old can vary in length, but they usually range from 1 to 2 hours. Some babies may take shorter catnaps in between longer naps.

Q: What are some activities for a 6-month-old?

Some activities suitable for a 6-month-old include:

– Tummy time to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles

– Playing with soft toys and rattles

– Reading board books with colorful pictures

– Exploring different textures with safe toys or objects

– Singing and clapping games

– Engaging in simple games of peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake

– Going for stroller walks or outdoor time to explore the environment

Q: What are 6-month-old milestones?

At 6 months old, typical milestones may include:

– Rolling from back to tummy and vice versa

– Sitting up with support and beginning to sit independently

– Babbling and making various sounds

– Reaching for and grasping objects

– Responding to their name

– Showing interest in food and possibly starting solid foods (with guidance from a healthcare provider)

– Exhibiting curiosity and increased awareness of the surroundings

Q: What time do 6-month-olds go to bed?

6-month-olds typically have an earlier bedtime, often between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. The exact bedtime can depend on the baby’s individual sleep needs and family routines.

Q: Does a 6-month-old baby need to eat during the night?

By 6 months old, many babies are capable of sleeping for longer stretches without needing to eat during the night. However, if a baby still requires nighttime feedings, it’s important to respond to their hunger cues and provide nourishment as needed. Consulting with a pediatrician can help determine if nighttime feedings are necessary for an individual baby.

Q: Why does my 6-month-old keep waking up at night?

There can be various reasons why a 6-month-old baby wakes up at night. These can include hunger, discomfort, teething, developmental milestones, sleep associations, or a disrupted sleep schedule. It’s important to assess the baby’s needs and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the nighttime waking.

Q: Is there a 6-month sleep regression?

Some babies may experience a sleep regression around 6 months old. This regression can be attributed to developmental milestones, changes in sleep patterns, or increased separation anxiety. However, not all babies go through a noticeable sleep regression at this specific age.

Q: Is 6 months a good time to sleep train?

Many families choose to begin sleep training around 6 months of age, as babies at this stage are often developmentally ready to learn independent sleep skills. However, the decision to sleep train should be based on the baby’s individual needs and the family’s preferences. It’s important to research different sleep training methods and consult with a healthcare provider for guidance.

Q: Is sleep still a struggle for your 6-month-old?

Sleep struggles can vary from baby to baby. While some 6-month-olds may have established healthy sleep habits, others may still experience difficulties. Factors such as individual temperament, sleep associations, and routine consistency can affect a baby’s sleep patterns. Implementing appropriate sleep strategies and seeking support from healthcare professionals or sleep consultants can help address any ongoing sleep struggles.

Q: How to sleep train a baby 6 months old and older?

To sleep train a baby who is 6 months old or older, establish a sleep training routine. Choose a method that suits your preferences and gradually teach your baby to fall asleep without your help. There are various sleep training methods available, ranging from more gradual approaches to faster methods. Consistency and patience are key throughout the process.

Q: Is 6 months too late to sleep train?

No, 6 months is not too late to start sleep training. At this age, most babies are capable of learning to fall asleep independently without parental intervention. While younger babies may struggle to self-soothe consistently, 6 months is a good time to begin sleep training.

Q: How to sleep train 6-month-olds and older babies without crying?

If you prefer to minimize crying during sleep training, you can opt for a gentle approach that gradually reduces parental involvement in helping the baby fall asleep. However, it’s important to note that some babies may protest changes to their sleep routine regardless of the method used.

Q: Should 6-month-olds and older babies fall asleep on their own?

Most 6-month-olds and older babies have the ability to fall asleep independently. Whether or not they should fall asleep on their own is a personal decision for each family, based on their preferences and the baby’s sleep needs.

Q: Which sleep training method is best for 6-month-olds and older babies?

There is no one “best” sleep training method for all babies. The most effective method will depend on the baby’s temperament, the family’s parenting style, and their comfort level. It’s important to choose a method that the family can consistently implement.

Q: Is it harder to sleep train 6-month-olds and older babies?

Sleep training can be easier for babies who are 6 months and older, as they have developed the physiological capacity to self-soothe and sleep independently. Younger infants may struggle more with falling asleep without assistance. However, toddlers may present their own challenges as they become more independent and assert their preferences.

Q: Can you let 6-month-old babies cry it out?

There is no evidence to suggest that sleep training, including methods like “cry it out,” is harmful to babies. Research actually indicates that graduated extinction methods can promote a sense of security and attachment. However, if you choose to use the cry-it-out method, it’s important to ensure your baby’s safety and well-being, and video monitoring can be helpful in this regard.


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