Here is how to get your baby to sleep well in just 3-4 nights:
EXTINCTION: Extinction (you are extinguishing the habit expectation that crying out always brings parental attention) means that after a soothing bedtime routine at sleep onset, and except for feeding, changing, and any suspicion of medical distress, you let your baby fuss or cry without time limit until the morning (Blog Posts 25 and 26). Extinction does not harm your baby (Blog Post 71).
- It’s never too early to start. The earlier you start, the better (Blog Posts 49, 57, 67, 105–107, 115 and Parents’ Reports #1).
- Leave the room after you put your baby down; no ‘parental presence’ (Blog Posts 16 and 77).
- Temporarily, the soothing bedtime routine is super-early. You begin the bedtime routine at night early enough so that you leave the room (the expected falling asleep time) at 5:30pm, or perhaps 6-6:30pm if there is a long afternoon nap that begins before 3:00pm. The earlier the bedtime, the better. The early bedtime is essential to prevent heightened neurological arousal (Blog Posts 171 and 172) that makes it difficult for your baby to fall asleep.
- No nap is allowed to start after 3:00pm to achieve the super-early bedtime. A nap that begins before 3:00pm is allowed to continue; you do not wake your baby. If there is variability in afternoon naps, then the expected falling asleep time, while still occurring super-early, might vary from night to night.
- Under 4 months of age: Do whatever you can to maximize day sleep and minimize daytime crying (brief intervals of wakefulness, rocking, carrying, pitch black room, noise machine, etc.).
- Over 6 months of age: Attempt to impose a biologically age appropriate nap schedule: Mid-morning and/or mid-day naps.
- Between 4-6 months: Naps are developing; do A. or B. (Blog Post 95).
- Improvement will be sequential: Night sleep will improve first, then the midmorning nap second, and finally, the midday nap third. (Blog Posts 155 and 161).
- When naps become regular and long (Blog Posts 173 and 174), then the bedtime may be moved later, based on drowsy signs (Blog Posts 9 and 115X).