You’ve likely heard people talk about training for a marathon or perhaps even on-the-job training, but have you ever heard of training a baby to sleep?

Rest assured, you can and should expect your baby to acquire the skill of sleeping through the night, but rarely does that happen without parental training. While the On Becoming Babywise best-selling book is one of the most respected resources on this topic and a key to understanding sleep training methods, we can explore some of its most important infant sleep training techniques right here.

If your newborn is not sleeping, one of the worst assumptions you can make is that it’s only a sleep issue. The truth is, if you want to increase the likelihood of continuous nighttime sleep, a parent-guided “feed-wake-sleep” routine is essential.

Let me be clear, the key to baby sleep training, and ultimately nighttime sleep, lies in the order of these three daytime activities: first comes feeding time, followed by wake time, and then nap time.

The sequence of these three activities repeats itself throughout the day to create gentle sleep training. The more consistent the routine, the more quickly a baby learns to adapt to the sleep training methods and organize his feed-wake-sleep rhythms. Established rhythms lead to continuous nighttime sleep.

You too can successfully establish these rhythms by putting into place the following five sleep training methods:

Sleep Training Principle One

Understand the principle of time variation. While the length of each feed-wake-sleep cycle during the early weeks of life remains fairly consistent, eventually each cycle will take on its own unique features.

Sleep Training Principle Two

Understand the principle of capacity and ability: a mother cannot arbitrarily decide to drop a feeding or adjust a naptime, unless the baby has the physical capacity and ability to make the adjustment.

Sleep Training Principle Three

Understand the first-last feeding principle. When adjusting a baby’s routine, the first feeding of the day is always strategic. Without a consistent time set for the first morning feeding, a baby may feed every 3 hours, but each day’s routine will be different. that isn’t good for baby or mom.

While there can be some flexibility to this first feeding time, try to keep it within a 20-minute time frame. Remember, flexibility comes after a routine is established. Mom will come to appreciate the consistency of time because she can plan her day around her baby’s feeding and naptime needs.

Sleep Training Principle Four

Understand the principle of individuality among children. All babies will experience the same cycles and merging of schedules as they grow, but they will not necessarily experience them at the same time.

Sleep Training Principle Five 

Understand the principle of two steps forward and one step back. While some feed-wake-sleep schedule merges happen suddenly and take only a day to become a new pattern, most merges take four to six days before a new normal is established.

It’s important to keep some milestones in mind for the first few weeks of sleep training a newborn. During the first two weeks of life, your baby will not have a distinct waketime apart from his feeding time. Your baby’s feeding time is his waketime, because that’s all a newborn can handle before sleep overtakes his little body.

Usually by weeks two or three, most babies fall into a predictable feed-wake-sleep routine. When this happens, you and your baby have arrived at another level of success. Once you make it through those first couple of weeks filled with new experiences, life begins to settle in as your baby’s routine takes shape.

In the end, Babywise babies are characterized by contentment, healthy growth, and optimal alertness. The best and safest way to help your little one fall asleep and stay asleep is the natural way. Successful baby sleep training relies upon you as a parent confidently establishing a basic routine to promote restful sleep. These are the babies truly exude happiness—which after all, is tied back to being well-rested and one of the hallmarks of Babywise sleep training.

For more information on baby sleep training, visit

Sami Cone, M.A., is the best-selling author of “Raising Uncommon Kids”, an adjunct professor at Lipscomb University, known as the “Frugal Mom” on Nashville’s top-rated talk show “Talk of the Town” and educates over a million listeners every day on her nationally syndicated “Family Money Minute”. Sami, who also serves as Managing Editor of Babywise.Life, is proud to call Nashville home with her husband, Rick, and their two ‘tweenage’ children.


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