Ready, Set, Sleep Already! How to Get Your Baby to Sleep

Sleep can be a hot button topic. Everyone has an opinion and they aren’t afraid to voice it. But you won’t find any judgment here. We believe no one is right. No one is wrong. The best method is the one that works for your family. So if you’re looking for some guidance, here’s the low-down, quickie guide on sleep training your baby.

General guidelines:

  • Ready, Set, Sleep Already!It’s probably best to wait until four to six months to begin sleep training. Prior to that, your baby isn’t physically ready to sleep ten to twelve hours at night without at least one feeding.
  • Every baby is different. Some are more strong-willed than others. What works for one may not work for another. So don’t compare and despair with your Mommy & Me friends.
  • Begin sleep-training at a time when your family can afford a few sleepless weeks.  It may won’t take that long, but just in case — don’t do it when you’re swamped at work, moving out of state, or hosting your in-laws for the holidays.
  • For optimal chances at success, don’t travel anywhere or plan to move the baby’s bedroom in the first couple months post-successful sleep training. Disruptions to routine can tend to cause a child to regress, and you don’t want to have to start all over again. Trust me!
  • Create a bedtime routine. Bath, books, jammies, lullabies, snuggles — whatever you like.


Method #1: Parent to Sleep

Philosophy: Make going to sleep a positive experience for your child. Rock, cuddle or nurse your baby to sleep. This will help minimize separation anxiety and will make sleeping a pleasant experience and that association will stay with her the rest of her life.

The Drill: Do whatever it takes to get her to sleep.  Rock, nurse, take a walk with the Ergo or stroller, drive around the block, etc…


  • Your baby will love this!
  • You won’t have to hear her cry for extended periods of time
  • Cuddling is great bonding for parents and baby
  • Babies often sleep longer and better with their parents nearby


  • It’s a big commitment
  • The longer you wait to get your baby to go to sleep by themselves, the harder it can be if you decide to run a sleep intervention later
  • Most babies don’t magically learn to sleep through the night by themselves until much later (i.e. your three year old may still need you to put them to sleep)

Method #2: No Tears Training

Philosophy: If you stay attuned to your baby’s natural sleep schedule and provide an environment that is optimal for sleep, she will eventually learn to fall asleep by herself with no tears.

The Drill: Make sure you are consistent with your baby’s sleep schedule. Pay attention to her natural cues. Put her down drowsy, but awake. If she starts to cry, pick her up briefly to soothe her until she falls asleep again.


  • Baby feels secure and less stressed
  • Parents may feel better soothing a baby that is upset


  • No matter how good you are at setting up their environment and following the rules of optimal sleep, this method won’t always work or may take a LONG time to implement.
  • It can be easily disrupted by changes in routine like traveling or daylight savings.

Method #3: Light Tears

Philosophy: You stay in the room and teach your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep on her own.

The Drill: Put your baby down in the crib drowsy but awake, and stay in the room until she falls asleep. You can say soothing things, pat her back and “shush” her if she’s upset, but don’t pick her up.


  • Your baby feels a little more secure knowing you’re right there
  • Once successful, you should have more time in the evening and get longer stretches of sleep at night.


  • Can take much longer
  • It’s easier to “give in” when you’re sitting in the same room as your baby
  • It’s excruciating to just sit there and listen to her cry

Method #4: Cry It Out, Kind of (i.e. Ferberizing)

Philosophy: Babies need help learning how to fall asleep by themselves and this means there will probably be some crying. Although parents can help by soothing the baby with their occasional presence.

The Drill: Let her cry for five minutes. Then go in to reassure her verbally and pat her without picking her up. Then leave and let her cry for ten minutes before going back in. The next time, you wait fifteen minutes. Each time you leave, you wait longer to return.


  • With some babies, this method is most efficient way to get baby to fall asleep alone and only lasts a day or two.
  • Once successful, you should have more time in the evening and get less interrupted sleep at night.


  • While Ferber is a pediatrician, he’s not a psychologist, so this method doesn’t take into account psychological implications or neurophysical implications of prolonged, sustained periods of crying.
  • Some determined babies will cry for hours, making this technique especially difficult on both everyone.
  • It’s often not a one-shot deal. You may need to repeat it a few times.

Method #5: Cry It Out, For Reals

Philosophy: Let her cry herself to sleep.  Once she learns you’re not coming back in, she’ll go to sleep.

The Drill: Put her in the crib. Say goodnight. Don’t go back in until the morning.  Period.


  • Depending on your baby’s temperament, this method can work quickly. Maybe in a night or two.


  • Could feel like abandonment to your baby.
  • Very hard to listen to your baby cry for hours and hours.

Whew. There you have it. Being a parent is easy, right? Ha! But don’t sweat it. Just remember to do what feels best for you and your family. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

For ideas on creating an optimal sleep environment for your baby, head over to: Top Harvard Sleep Doctor Weighs in on the Best Products to Get Your Baby to Sleep.

What Top Sleep Products Are Actually Detrimental To Baby’s Sleep?

When I asked top Harvard Sleep Doctor Erin Evans about whether there were any sleep products for babies that she would NOT recommend, I was stunned when she rattled off a bunch of super popular, mainstream products, including some that I had sworn by when my son was a baby!

It turns out some of the major brands are NOT designing their products with the science of sleep in mind. And according to Erin, some of these popular products can actually be detrimental to your baby getting healthy sleep!

Erin warns:

“Many new parents buy products that claim to “sooth your baby to sleep.” Some of these products are unnecessary and in some cases may actually cause sleep disruption. For example, a blue light is the most potent stimulant of the biological clock. Blue light immediately promotes wakefulness and blue light is actually used just like caffeine to help keep shiftworkers awake all night. For some reason this information hasn’t made it back to baby product manufacturers, who suggest that the color blue is soothing!”
Baby sleep aides that Erin DOES NOT RECOMMEND because of the color of their light include:

Fisher-Price Rainforest Waterfall Peek-a-Boo Soother
: This toy projects bright blue light in your baby’s crib to help “lull” your baby to sleep. The problem is that your baby’s body is very sensitive to blue light and exposure to light tonight at 4:00 AM will cause a signal to wake up tomorrow at 4:00 AM. It’s much better to teach your baby to fall asleep in other ways and avoid the need to soothe to sleep with something that will cause more waking.

Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Crib ‘N Go Projector SootherLight is what resets the circadian rhythm. The last thing you want is a light in your child’s crib — it could massively disrupt your child’s sleep. Save toys like this for daytime play.

gracoGraco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine: The sound machine functionality is nice, it goes all night and has a variety of soothing sounds to choose from, however, they chose a blue, stimulating night for the night light! [Note: I love this sound machine, but I recently removed this from my personal Mamajamas list based on Erin’s advice about the night light portion of it.]

Again from Erin:

“Stay away from products that light up (in any color except red or amber). Since light is alerting and is what resets the biological clock, having your baby stare at a light before falling asleep is likely to lead to trouble in the future.”

If you do want a night light, Erin DOES RECOMMEND:

Leviton Amber LED Nightlight:  If you need a night light to see in your child’s room, then choose one that is very dim and amber or red in color. Blue, green and white nightlights are stimulating to the circadian rhythm and can actually increase your child’s night wakings.

For all of Erin’s “must have” and “don’t buy” sleep products, check out her Mamajamas List. And, for more great baby sleep tips, check out Erin’s website “Baby Sleep Science” or her blog “The Sleep Doctor’s Son”.

SPECIAL OFFER: Use the code MAMAJAMAS, and get 10% off of your first Baby Sleep Science phone consultation.

Top Harvard Sleep Doctor Weighs In On The Best Products To Get Your Baby To Sleep

After my son went through the infamous “four month sleep regression,” he started waking up every two hours. My husband and I were losing our minds we were so exhausted. A friend of ours told us about this amazing sleep doctor, who ran a sleep lab at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital during the day, but advised parents on their sleep issues at night.

So we called Erin Evans, desperate, yet a little skeptical. But she was incredibly warm, empathetic (she’s a mom  of two young children herself, and excited to customize a sleeping solution for our unique needs. (She believes strongly that there are a variety of approaches to getting families to sleep better.) Within a couple weeks, we had dramatically cut down on the number of night wakings, and did it without too many tears (neither mine, nor my baby’s!).

So, of course, once I launched Mamajamas, I couldn’t wait to ask Erin to share some of her secret sleep knowledge with Mamajamas members.

What she told me was even more fascinating than I would have expected! She gave me so much amazing information, that I have decided to break up her advice into two separate posts. In this first one, we’ll discuss the optimal environment for babies to sleep and products she loves, and in the next piece, we’ll talk about what mainstream, popular products are actually detrimental for good sleep.

In the meantime, you can see all of Erin’s recommendations (as well as products to stay away from) on her Mamajamas list.

Erin starts by setting the stage for optimal sleep. She says the best sleep environment for a baby is cool, dark and quiet and consistent.

For maintaining darkness, Erin recommends the following:

The biological clock (or circadian rhythm) is reset each day by light exposure. This means that at 5:00 AM sunrise that illuminates a child’s room will cause the biological clock to synchronize with a 5:00 AM wake time. This may work for some families, but I’m sure most would prefer to start the day a little later. In order to prevent early wake-ups from happening, I would recommend purchasing black out shades that completely block out light. 

Erin has tried many black out shades, and her favorite are Redi Shade Black Out Shades. They cost less than $10 a piece and you can cut them to fit your window.

To maintain a quiet environment for your baby, Erin recommends:

sound_machine 2

Get a continuous white noise machine that doesn’t turn off during the night. Many parents think that white noise is meant to induce sleep, but that’s not really the reason to use white noise. Sleep changes throughout the night and sleep becomes very light in the early morning hours. This means that a tiny creak could wake a baby at 4:00 AM. If you have a continuous white noise machine on all night, then your baby will be much less likely to wake from random noises that may happen when sleep is lightest. There are many options on the market, but I recommend using a white noise machine that plays a continuous shhhhhh. Anything that changes in pitch or volume could actually cause a night waking.

For a good white noise machine, Erin points to HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Machine.

To keep the temperature of the room cool and consistent:

Newborns typically have a strong startle reflex that leads to night waking. In order to protect against a startle reflex induced waking I recommend using a lightweight swaddle blanket until your baby starts rolling. Swaddles also somewhat mimic the sensation of being held, which is probably why swaddled babies tend to sleep for longer stretches than unswaddled babies. It’s important to choose a lightweight option in order to prevent overheating.

She admits she was never great at swaddling, so she preferred swaddle blankets like the SwaddleMe or The Miracle Blanket to help her achieve a consistent swaddle.

And finally, despite her recommendations, Erin is quick to point out that you actually don’t need too many gadgets to help your child sleep:

You need less than you think you need for your child’s sleep. When choosing sleep products begin with simple items that will allow your child to sleep in an optimal environment. As you get to know your baby, and figure out your parenting style, then you can purchase other products that suit your individual needs.

For more great sleep tips, check out Erin’s website, “Baby Sleep Science” or her blog, “The Sleep Doctor’s Son” for more great information on babies and sleep.