Babies need a lot of sleep. When they’re between four and 11 months old, they need 12 to 15 hours a day (nighttime sleep plus naps). And at a certain point, they can get a lot of those hours in consecutively at night. The key is sleep training.
Sleep training when babies are too young doesn't work—it usually takes babies about three to six months to develop the circadian rhythm that they’ll need to want to sleep at night and be awake during the day. But once that happens, babies can sleep nine to 12 hours at night. While each baby reacts a little differently to sleep training and there are varying methods, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
- Babies need to learn how to soothe themselves. Putting a baby down drowsy (not fully asleep) encourages him or her to fall asleep on his or her own. That means when little ones wake up in the middle of the night, they will know how to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep without crying out for you .
- A consistent bedtime is key. Sleep training is about creating a brand new schedule, which means every night, bedtime should happen around the same time.
- There might be setbacks. There might be nights where it doesn’t go very smoothly (especially if a baby gets sick or a parent is traveling). But keeping a routine is key.
- There is no right way to sleep train. There are many different approaches to sleep training, and there are parents who swear by each and every one of them. Some experts, for example, advocate letting a child "cry it out," while others don't.
- A parent will ultimately be successful. Between 70 and 80 percent of nine-month-olds sleep through the night, so parents shouldn't get discouraged.