3 min
October 16, 2022

The Secret To Sleep Training Your Baby

“Never wake a sleeping baby.”

What a crock of shit. 

The key to sleep training your baby is to wake him up regularly

Here’s a fun fact:

“Babies do not have the ability to organize their own days and nights into predictable rhythms, but they have the biological need to do so. That is why parents must take the lead and create structure and routine for their babies and for themselves.”

Your baby is not in charge of his schedule. You are. That doesn’t mean sleep training should feel like torture. It’s not about letting him cry it out. Sure, there are times when he’ll cry for one minute and it feels like 30. You listen outside his door and silently beg him to self-soothe. But It should never feel like you’re neglecting your baby or being a bad parent. Sleep training is about having the discipline to wake your baby up according to the schedule you’ve created, because consistency leads to predictability. 

My friend didn’t sleep train her kids, now 8 and 10 years old. She describes bedtime as a nightmare. It’s always a fight, it’s never the same time, and often, she ends up falling asleep with them in their beds. If you don't sleep train you're kicking the can down the road.

When my neighbor first told me that the secret to sleep training was to wake him up, I pushed back. “Are you sure??” I asked, unconvinced that any sane person would wake a sleeping baby when so much of his waking time was spent crying. Was I really going to punish myself and ruin the temporary peace and quiet?

But enough sources told me it worked, and I desperately needed my nights back, so we started sleep training at 1 month old and by 6 months George was sleeping 7pm-7am. 

My sister did not sleep train her daughter and as a result, her baby takes cat naps all day at unpredicted times and still doesn’t sleep through the night at 10 months old. She has no schedule. My sister seems like a happy mom. She’ll tell you so. It reminds me of when I thought I had a good waitressing job because I liked the owner, but only after the place shut down and I found a new job where I made twice as much money did I realize my previous boss stole my tips. I didn’t know any better! And neither does my sister. 

There are lots of different ways to sleep train. My husband and I found a way that worked for us and we plan to use it again with Baby #2 coming soon. And who knows? Maybe all babies are different and we're “lucky George is such a great sleeper,” as my parents tell me. But I’m willing to bet we get this new little one sleep trained faster than my son because I have more confidence now that it works. So when it’s time to wake her up from a nap, there won’t be any doubt or hesitancy that maybe we should let her sleep because, “She looks so peaceful and she must need it and hey, I need this time, too!” Because we know and appreciate the joy of an uninterrupted 12 hours every day. 

Sleep training works. It’s difficult at first to wake up your sweet, precious baby from his perfect slumber. But when he starts sleeping for longer stretches and eventually through the night, you will delight in opening those curtains at 7am and saying good morning to your happy, well-rested little babe. 

Or don’t sleep train, and enjoy negotiating with a terrorist. 


Thanks to my friends Florian Maganza, Ayomide Adebayo, and Nate Kadlac for feedback on this essay.