When can I begin sleep training?

Q: Can I teach my 3-month-old baby to cry it out?

A: There is no set age to begin sleep training, but it's best to wait until you're sure your baby no longer needs to eat in the middle of the night. For most babies, this is after 4 months, but some may be ready sooner. I recommend starting before 6 months, however; the process becomes more difficult after a baby can sit up by himself. However, you should never just let your baby "cry it out" totally on his own. Instead, check in on him frequently to make sure he's all right. This will not only reassure and help calm your baby, but also ease your new-mom nerves. Once you decide that the time is right for sleep training, be sure to start with bedtime. Only after your child has learned to fall asleep at night -- which usually takes about a week -- should you incorporate this method during naps.

Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the February 2002 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009