Get an idea of how long sleep training takes and how you can make sure you see success during the process!

Baby in crib sleep training

Having realistic expectations about how long sleep training takes can really make or break your experience.

Many factors affect how long sleep training will take including your baby’s age, temperament, the sleep training method you use, and consistency.

Keep reading to learn just how long you should expect sleep training to take and what you can do to make sure you see progress.

Baby looking at crib

How Long Does It Take For Sleep Training To Work?

Sleep training generally takes 1 to 3 weeks to complete. Most parents see progress within 3 nights at bedtime, while sleep training for naps usually takes 1 to 3 weeks.

Of course, every baby is a little bit different and works in their own timeline. If you are consistent and follow best practices you will see results!

There are four main factors that impact how long it takes for sleep training to work.

1. Sleep Training Method

One is the sleep training method that you choose. Some methods are designed to move more gradually than others, so they naturally take longer to work.

“No cry” sleep training methods generally take weeks to even months to arrive at the end goal, because they are designed to slowly remove sleep associations and replace them with new ones.

Popular methods of sleep training such as the Controlled Crying (also known as the Ferber Method) and extinction sleep training generally take a few days to start seeing progress at night time.

2. Sleep Pressure

If your baby isn’t tired enough at bedtime, that’s going to prolong their sleep and make sleep training even harder.

If you have an overtired baby, that can also lead to bedtime battles and make it more difficult for your baby to fall asleep.

Paying attention to your baby’s wake windows and keeping them on a consistent sleep schedule will help their body fall asleep at nap times and bed time.

3. Consistency

One of the biggest indicators of success with sleep training is consistency.

It can be really confusing for babies or toddlers to get mixed messaging around sleep. The parents who are the most consistent, tend to see the greatest success.

Make sure you and your partner are on the same page with your sleep training method and how you will respond to wake ups.

Also, plan to sleep train during a period where your family will have your normal routine for at least 2 weeks.

If there are out-of-the-norm things happening like moving to a new room at daycare, traveling, or other events that make it hard to stay consistent, sleep training will take longer than it otherwise would.

4. Baby’s Temperament and Age

Another factor is your baby’s personality, temperament, and their age when you start sleep training.

Some babies are very easygoing and adapt quickly to change. Other babies are more sensitive to change and take longer to adjust.

Babies typically learn new sleep associations quicker than older kids. Toddlers can take longer, because toddlers can be more set in their ways and resistant to change.

Sleep Training Techniques

There are 4 general sleep training techniques that you can use.

Pick Up Put Down

Pick Up Put Down is considered one of the more “gentle” sleep training techniques, because it has a lot of parental involvement and doesn’t include separation from parent and child as compared to other sleep training methods.

Remember though that gentle doesn’t equal no tears—that’s how babies communicate!

To do Pick Up, Put Down you put your baby down awake. If your baby starts to cry, you pick her up, comfort her until she stops crying, and then put her back down in her crib or bassinet.

You repeat this process again and again until your baby falls asleep. You could be picking up and putting your baby down for several minutes or even hours.

Chair Method

The Chair Method is another gentle sleep training method that requires a lot of parental involvement and presence.

You do your baby’s bedtime routine and then have a chair nearby where you can sit and soothe your baby until they fall asleep.

Over the course of several days you’ll move your chair further away from your child’s crib or bed, and eventually out of the room completely.

Ferber Method

Ferber Method or Controlled Crying involves doing timed check-ins using intervals. This is one of the more popular sleep training methods because it’s simple to follow and usually gets fairly quick results.

I teach a modified version of this on my Baby D.R.E.A.M. System that gets great results!

Cry It Out

Cry it out or the Extinction Method usually involes the most amount of tears and the least amount of parental presence.

With the Extinction Method, you put your baby down, leave the room, and essentially wait until the fall asleep.

What is the Hardest Night of Sleep Training?

There are typically two nights of sleep training that are the hardest, no matter what method you choose:

1. The very first night. This night is usually emotionally difficult for parents. For babies, it is the first night of learning a new habit, and learning a new habit is hard.

The good news is that there is only one very first night and it typically goes better than parents anticipate!

2. The other night that is usually the hardest is the fourth or fifth night. This is when what is commonly called the “extinction burst” happens.

The extinction burst is best described as a very hard night after a few nights of improvement. You may see a huge sleep regression and will feel like everything is going backwards and wonder if you have made any progress at all.

Typically, the following night will be much better!

When you start sleep training, make a note on your calendar for 4 or 5 days later so that if the extinction burst happens, you can remember that it’s normal and not be discouraged.

It can also be helpful to track your child’s sleep so you can really measure progress.

How Long Should you Let Baby Cry When Sleep Training?

This is such a personal decision and how long you can listen to your baby cry will vary.

On the first night of sleep training babies typically fall asleep within 90 minutes. And most of the time it’s much quicker.

What also typically happens is that one parent is able to handle baby’s crying more than the other.

If that’s the case, I recommend the parent who is okay with the crying (it’s typically dad), be the one to do the checks and tackle those first three nights of sleep training.

If mom is on board with sleep training, but can’t hear baby cry, I advise her to take a walk while dad handles bedtime.

After three nights, the tears usually lessen and mom can help out with baby’s bedtime routine again.

If your baby is crying much more than 90 minutes, something else may be going on.

This is where sleep training is about so much more than choosing a method and there are multiple factors that go into it.

How Long Does The Cry It Out Method Take?

The cry it out method typically takes roughly a week, though often a big improvement is noted over the first few days.

As far as how long your baby will cry on the first night?

That is a hard question to answer. It may be as little as 5 minutes or a long as an hour or more.

What do you do when sleep training and baby won’t stop crying?

There are a few things you can check:

  • Is it time for a feeding?
  • Is a diaper change needed?
  • Did baby get to bed on time or later than usual?
  • Is baby’s room too warm or cool?

Lastly, listen to your parental instinct. Choose to sleep train because you believe it is best for your baby, not because it is what someone else says you should do.

If your instinct says “too much”, it is okay to change your mind and stop sleep training. If your instinct says “this is hard, but we can do it and the benefits will make the hard worth it”, that is great too.

Of course, it should go without saying, but sleep training does not mean ignoring real felt needs like hunger or dirty diapers. Please, feed hungry babies and change those diapers.

Baby D.R.E.A.M Mockup image

Get Better Sleep with The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System

If you want someone to walk you through the process of sleep training, let me help. The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System is for babies 4 months through 2.5 years old. I’ll walk you through how to establish daily routines, sleep schedules, and sleep training techniques to help you break the sleep associations you no longer find beneficial! Check it out here.

Sleep Training Tips

You can be extremely consistent and still see roadblocks with sleep training if you don’t have these other elements dialed in.

Sleep Environment

Make sure to use blackout curtains and a white noise sound machine to create an environment that’s conducive for sleep.

Baby’s Wake Windows

We can’t just expect your baby to fall asleep at any given time. Follow your baby’s wake windows to make sure their sleep window is just right.

Bedtime Routine

Did you know even young babies can start to anticipate routines?

Having the same 3–5 activities each night as part of your baby’s bedtime routine will help cue to your baby’s brain that sleep is coming.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Sleep Training Takes?

What age should I Start Sleep Training?

The best time to start sleep training is when you and your partner feel ready!

Should Your Baby Sleep in a different room during sleep training?

It’s up to you.

If your baby is already in a different room, then yes, keep them in their separate room during sleep training.

If you currently room share with your baby and want to continue to do so, you can still sleep train them at bedtime and sleep in the same room at night.

Some families choose to sleep on the sofa temporarily during sleep training and then move back into their room with their baby once baby is sleeping well.

Does sleep training take 2 weeks?

Two weeks is about the time sleep training takes to start seeing a lot of consistency for nights and naps. However, most parents will see improvement in sleep by Night 3.

If you have any questions about how long sleep training takes, leave them in the comments and our team will help you troubleshoot.

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