How often should I check while sleep training?
How often you check on your baby at bedtime when you are teaching her how to fall asleep on her own at bedtime really depends on both you and your baby. Think about how much crying you are able to tolerate. Some caregivers can handle very little, and some can handle a lot. If you are not able to handle very much crying, then go into her room frequently – say, every 30 seconds. If you can handle a lot of crying while you help her learn to fall asleep on her own, then stay out. The longer you can stay out of the room, the more your baby will have the chance to fall asleep on her own. If you start at 30 seconds, then increase the time you are able to stay out of the room each night. Remember, if you’re helping your little one learn to fall asleep on her own at bedtime the goal is to have her fall asleep when you are out of the room.
Consider your baby, too. Some babies are comforted by an adult coming in to check while others become more agitated when an adult comes in to check at bedtime. If your baby happens to become more upset or agitated when you go in to check on her, then don’t go in as often. Becoming more upset and agitated will only make it harder for her to fall asleep at bedtime.
The most important thing to remember if you are going to have your baby cry at bedtime is not to give in. If she cries for 45 minutes and you think it’s not working well and you end up picking her up to feed or rock her to sleep, then your baby just learns that if she keeps crying that you will eventually pick her up (give her what she wants). Instead, stick with it until she fully falls asleep all by herself.
About Dr. Lisa Meltzer