As a Baby Sleep Coach, the most common age range I work with is babies between 4 – 8 months old. And one of the most frequent questions I get asked is “can you sleep train a 6 month old baby?” My answer is absolutely!
In fact, when my daughter Evalyn was 6 months old, we were on the struggle bus with her sleep. She couldn’t fall asleep without being nursed, or bounced, or rocked to sleep. She was waking up constantly throughout the night. And naps were practically non-existent. Like so many parents, I was stuck and didn’t know what to do. I knew she needed to learn how to fall asleep without all the assistance I was giving her, but I was nervous to do it because I was afraid of her to cry it out. But when I learned that there are actually several sleep training methods available, I was able to find the right fit for my little girl.
It’s incredibly important to find the strategy that will work best for your family. And today, I’m going to dive into all if it! I’m going to lay out all the options for how to sleep train a 6 month old baby.
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Can You Sleep Train 6 Month Old Baby?
In many ways, 6 months old is the perfect time to sleep train a baby. Sleep is so incredibly important for your baby at this age. And babies have the ability to learn how to self soothe by 4 months of age. So by 6 months old, you’ll know that your baby is 100% developmentally ready.
Some families want to wait to sleep train their 6 month old baby because they want to start sleeping through the night. Every baby is going to be different on when they’re going to be ready to sleep through the night. In general, most babies are ready to sleep through the night by 6 months old.
But you’ll want to take a look at your baby’s weight too. Bottle fed babies are typically going to be big enough to sleep through the night by 14 pounds. Whereas breastfed babies need a little longer.
Sleep Training 6 Month Old Breastfed Baby
Breastfed babies are usually physically able to sleep through the night once they’ve reached 15 lbs. So if your breastfed baby 6 months old, but hasn’t reached 15 lbs, can you still sleep train them?
Yes! You can sleep train a 6 month old breastfed baby and keep a middle of the night feed. In fact, when I did sleep training with my daughter Evalyn at 6 months old, I kept a night feed for another 3 months. By 9 months old, she was ready to drop that final middle of the night feed on her own.
And the same goes for bottle fed babies. You can still keep a night feed and sleep train a bottle fed 6 month old baby too.
Is your 6 month old baby currently waking up more then one time a night to feed? If they are, then I recommend doing a slow wean down over the period of 3 – 6 nights. Your baby is used to getting a lot of their calories in the night hours. You don’t have to make them go hungry in the middle of the night and cut them off cold turkey. It is going to be easier on them if you slowly shift that milk into the daytime hours.
Sleep Training 6 Month Old in Same Room
Before you get started with sleep training your 6 month old baby, you’ll want to take a look at WHERE your baby is going to be sleeping. You’ll also want to get that bedroom set up to accommodate a great sleeper.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleep Guidelines recommend room sharing for at least the first 6 months, but preferable the first year of life to decrease the risk of SIDS. So many families decide to sleep train their 6 month old in the same room as them. And that’s great! That’s going to be the safest place for your baby to continue to sleep at this age.
But your baby needs to be sleeping on a separate sleeping surface then you. In other words, they need to be in a crib or pack and play. They should not be co-sleeping in the same bed as you.
Create the Ideal Sleep Environment
Create the perfect sleeping conditions for your baby by darkening the bedroom as much as possible. You can do this by using blackout window covers. Have a white noise machine in the room to help mask the other noises you’ll be making by sharing a room.
Keep your baby’s crib away from dangling objects like the cord to their monitor of the cord to the window blinds.
6 month old babies are more aware of their surroundings. Giving them their own space within your bedroom can be a great way to prevent them from waking up early, seeing you, and wanting you to get up to start the day with them. You can help to separate their portion of the bedroom by getting a room divider. Put it between your bed and the crib. You can also use a curtain room divider. Just make sure it’s a few feet away from their crib. You want it to be at least 6 feet away from the kids. That’s far enough away from their crib to where they can’t touch it.
How to Sleep Train 6 Month Old
Alright, you now know that you can sleep train a 6 month old and keep a feed if you want to. You’ve got the bedroom all set up. And you’re ready to get started. So let’s talk about what to do next. It’s the question you’re probably googling at 3 o’clock in the morning, “how to sleep train 6 month old?”
There are 3 different methods that you can use to sleep train a 6 month old. All 3 sleep training methods are effective. But they have different amounts of parental involvement. In order of least parental involvement to most, the sleep training methods for a 6 month old baby are:
- Cry it out
- Interval check ins
- Staying in the room with your baby
Here’s how each of the these sleep training methods work.
Cry It Out Method
The method to sleep train a 6 month old baby that involves the least amount of involvement from you, as your baby’s mom or dad is the cry it out method. With the cry it out method, you would lay your 6 month old baby down into their crib wide awake and then leave the room.
The cry it out method doesn’t allow for any check ins and requires a baby to learn how to self soothe completely on their own. Parents return to get their baby out of the crib when it’s time to start the day in the morning.
Parents who use the cry it out sleep training typically see results within a week, if not in just a few nights.
But a lot of parents really struggle with the thought of leaving their baby all alone both at bedtime and all throughout the night. And I get that. That’s where I was when I was getting ready to sleep train my daughter Evalyn when she was 6 months old. My heart just couldn’t let me leave her alone all night.
So I opted for one of the two gentler versions of sleep training.
How to Gently Sleep Train 6 Month Old
If you’re feeling like the cry it out method isn’t the right fit for your family, then you’ll want to check out one of the two effective gentle sleep training methods that we teach at Live Love Sleep. But here’s a heads up. These two methods still involve some crying. Any sleep training method will. That’s because you’re breaking old habits. And you’re asking your baby to learn something new. Your 6 month old has never experienced going to sleep without your help. As a result, they will protest that change. Their protest is crying.
The two gentler sleep training methods allow for parents to be comforting, supportive and interactive with their baby as they learn these new sleeping skills. In other words, you don’t have to leave your baby alone throughout the entire night to cry by themselves. You can actually be by their side, or return to their side.
The two gentle sleep training methods are the Interval Method (also known as the Ferber Method) and the Stay in the Room Method.
Let’s go through how you can gently sleep train your 6 month old.
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Sleep Training 6 Month Old Without Crying It Out
My personal favorite sleep training method for a 6 month old is the most gentle method. Because it keeps parents right there in the room with their baby as they learn how to fall asleep independently. It allows parents to do a more gradual fade out of the room.
To implement this sleep training method, bring a comfortable chair into your baby’s room. And you can sit that chair right beside their crib. You can actually stay in the room, right next to your baby as they begin to develop the skills needed to self soothe.
With this sleep training method, you can talk to and touch your 6 month-old as much as you need to in order to help them settle. You can even pick your baby up to help calm and settle them.
Over the period of a week or so, you will just slowly move your chair further and further away from your 6-month old baby’s crib. And by the end of the week, your baby will be able to settle on their own, without needing your assistance anymore, and you’ll be able to leave the room at that point!
Sleep Training 6 Month Old Ferber
There are many names for this sleep training method. The Ferber Method is also known as the Interval Method, Progressive Waiting, Graduated Extinction or Leaving and Checking.
To put this method into practice, you will do your bedtime routine with your baby and give them a kiss good night. Then you would lay them down into the crib fully awake and leave the room.
At that point, you set your timer for between 3 – 10 minutes before returning to the room to provide comfort to your baby. Some families like to start lower, maybe around 3 – 4 minutes, and work their way up a minute or two as the nights go on.
Other families prefer to select one time interval and stick with that. For example, you might feel comfortable waiting a full 10 minutes on night 1 before returning to offer comfort, and return every 10 minutes until your baby settles themselves.
This is a great method for parents who want to be involved with their baby’s sleep training journey, but who may feel overwhelmed by staying in the room with their 6 month old as they fall asleep. Some babies also get overstimulated by having their parents in the room as they’re learning how to self soothe, and this is a great method for those babies.
How to Sleep Train 6 Month Old for Naps
If you’re wondering, how do I sleep train my 6 month old for naps? You’re not alone. I often get started with a 6 month old naps after you’ve got their night sleep worked out. Or should you sleep train your 6 month old for naps AND nighttime at the same time?
Babies thrive on consistency. That is going to be the best way for your 6-month old to understand what the new expectations are when it comes to their sleep.
So whichever method you decide on to sleep train, use that same method for both their night sleep and for their naps.
Here’s how to sleep train a 6-month old for naps. Start with a quick naptime routine to help to prepare their mind and body for sleep. The naptime routine does not have to be very long. We’re just looking for something between 5 – 10 minutes to help get them ready for sleep. Get your baby into their sleep sack. Read them a book or two. Then lay them down into their crib awake.
Then do the same thing that you did the night before with the sleep training method you picked.
Sleep Training 6 Month Old Not Working
You should start to see some improvement in your baby’s sleep within the first few nights. When I sleep trained my daughter Evalyn,she was 6 months old and I was using the staying in the room method. She went from waking 10 – 12 times a night to just waking up one time for a feed by night 3. So by the end of the first week, you should be seeing your baby fall asleep without crying or see minimal tears. And you should really start seeing that consolidation of night time sleep.
Well, what if you have tried some of these strategies and you have not seen results. There are so many families who just can’t find the right strategy or feel stuck. Maybe you aren’t sure how to get your 6 month old sleeping well. I’ve worked with thousands of families to teach their baby how to fall asleep quickly and easily at bedtime, sleep well through the night and take great naps during the day.
As a sleep coach, I create a customized sleep plan for families, and I follow up with them for several weeks to ensure that the plan is working for them. And if we’re running into roadblocks, we work on adjusting the plan as needed. This allows my parents honor of a happy dance by the time we’re done working together… because their baby is sleeping like a champ!
If you are feeling lost and need help sleep training your 6 month old baby, I’m here to help you along your journey. Schedule your free sleep evaluation today so that we can chat more about your baby’s sleep struggles and see if my program is a good fit for your family.