WARNING: This article about the Tribeca Pediatrics Sleep Training method should not be received as medical or professional advice. My experience with this training method is anecdotal and may not be a good fit for certain parenting styles and baby temperaments. Make sure you check with your family doctor or health professional before implementing a sleep training plan so your baby and household are happy and healthy!
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At 12 weeks of age, we started sleep training our darling Leo. It’s been over two months since we trained him, and I still receive a lot of questions about the method that we chose. I also receive some negative comments, but I’ll try and address those today as well.
I’m not trying to convince you that this is the best or only way to sleep train- this is simply my experience and how well it worked. Please don’t bother to take the time to flame this method in the comments section. I will delete those posts. If this method isn’t for you, don’t shame anyone who may think it’s for them. You don’t live their life or experience their circumstances.
**Related: Mentally Preparing for Sleep Training
Tribeca Pediatrics Sleep Training: How It’s Done
So here’s an excerpt from their website:
Really, this is the simplest form of sleep training and the beauty of its simplicity is that there is no waffling back and forth over whether you need to intervene and “help”. The biggest con of this method is that for the 4 days that you’ll be implementing it, your nerves will wear pretty thin.
How We Implemented the Method & Results
Before I get to my experience with this method, let me preface with this:
Sleep Training is a process, not just an event. You the parent are making sure that a proper schedule is being implemented while allowing your child to learn how to put themselves to sleep. Without a proper schedule, you’ll have an overtired baby. Sleep training already sucks enough- don’t do it with an overtired baby!
So here’s what we did. Because Leo has an older sister, and we have worked very hard over the last 4 years to have her on a solid schedule, we sent her to her grandparent’s place for 5 nights so we could focus on Leo’s sleep.
Routine, Routine, Routine!
Before you start sleep training, please make sure you focus on a great schedule for your baby!
At 12 weeks old, Leo was on a very good daytime schedule of 1.25/1.5/1.75/1.75/1.5. I made sure he had good quality naps of at least 45 minutes leading up to sleep training so that he wasn’t overtired, but had enough awake time for the day so his drive to sleep at bedtime would be strong. I also made sure to give him as many daytime calories as possible by breastfeeding often.
If you’re a first-time parent and are having trouble with a daily routine, I’d highly recommend reading this article about schedules to help get your baby on track. Babies LOVE a schedule!
During the week of sleep training, I focused extra-hard on daytime naps and didn’t really leave the house too much during the day so that his sleep would be maximized to make up for any lost overnight sleep.
Always Start with Bedtime
We implemented a very simple bedtime routine that both my husband and I could execute:
- Last feed of the day (99.999% of the time this is breastfeeding)
- Warm, relaxing bath (~10-15 minutes)
- Lotion, nighttime diaper, and cream (we use Babybutz and in our home)
- Pajamas & Sleep sack (we like zippered footed pajamas and Halo Sleepsacks)
- Say goodnight to everyone & the bedroom lights, darken room and turn on white noise **related article coming soon
- Rock 1-2 minutes in the chair, give lots of cuddles and kisses
- Place Leo in his crib, say “night-night Leo, mama/daddy loves you!”
- Close the door
The rest of the falling asleep was up to Leo. If he woke at all before 7 am, he was also responsible for putting himself back to sleep for those wakings.
I like the simplicity of this method. With my daughter, it took over 14 months to sleep through the night, because I felt I had to intervene too often. This approach puts faith in my baby that he knows how to put himself back to sleep.
FAQs about Tribeca Pediatrics Sleep Training
1. How long did he cry?
Of course, Leo wasn’t too keen at first on this method, and for the first few days of doing this, he cried. The first question I always get when I tell people about this method is “how long did he cry?” Well, I took very detailed sleep logs, so I can share that info with you right now!
On night 1 of using the Tribeca Pediatrics sleep training method at 12 weeks:
- Bedtime 7:00 pm: 33 minutes of crying- he had about 2 big peaks where he was pretty upset. It was tough.
- 11:30 pm: some mild fussing for about 15 minutes
- 12:00 am: mild fussing for about 30 minutes
- 5:00 am: complaining for about 30 minutes
- 7:00 am: woke for the day happy, a bit tired, and quite hungry (this was the first time he’d gone longer than 8 hours without a feed)
- His temperament for the day after night 1 was tired, which was to be expected! This continued throughout the week, so we stayed home, played quietly and maximized naps with lots of extra cuddles.
Night 2 of using the Tribeca Pediatrics sleep training method:
- Bedtime 6:45 pm: NO CRYING. He rolled around for about 15 minutes and then fell asleep. I was flabbergasted!
- 5:45 am: hard crying for about 45 minutes.
- 7:00 am: Woke VERY happy to see me, ate a big breakfast and went on with our day!
Night 3 of using the Tribeca Pediatrics sleep training method:
- Bedtime 6:45 pm: 55 minutes of hard crying. This was the hardest and longest he cried throughout the whole ordeal.
- 8:30 pm: Mild complaining for 15 minutes
- 9:15 pm: Mild complaining for 15 minutes off and on
- 6:00 am: Hard crying for 15 minutes (I watched him on the monitor and considered getting him because of the rough bedtime, but I was amazed to see him put himself back to sleep)
- 6:30 am: Awake? Made some noise
- 7:00 am: Feed- very happy to see us!
Night 4 of using the Tribeca Pediatrics sleep training method:
- Bedtime 7:15 pm: 25 minutes of crying
- Woke at 7:00 am for breakfast!
Nighttime sleep training complete- just as Tribeca Pediatrics predicted!
So there you have it, 4 nights of difficulties, and he slept all the way thru! It took about 3 more nights for there to be minimal crying at bedtime, and about a week after that we had a few nights where he’d cry for 15 or 20 minutes before falling asleep; maybe due to overtiredness.
2. Can he really go all night without a feed? How much did he weigh?
So Leo is a big boy- at 12 weeks, he weighed approximately 16.5 pounds. He really went all night without a night feed. Remember, I’m not a doctor. If you are concerned about your baby’s health or weight before beginning sleep training, make that appointment!
In Leo’s case, we started developing a bad habit of needing 12+ FULL FEEDS throughout the day after weaning all night feeds. Because I’m breastfeeding, and because he doesn’t take a bottle, this was beginning to weigh heavily on me after a couple of weeks. So I added back one overnight feed at 5:00 am for my sanity. This slowed things down to a more reasonable 8-10 feedings a day.
At 5 months, we are still on this schedule. I don’t mind getting up at 5 am at all. He takes his feed, goes back to bed immediately and sleeps soundly til 7 or later consistently. We will likely drop this feed if he doesn’t do it on his own at about 7 months.
3. How do you handle all the crying? Don’t you feel guilty?
I am most definitely not a hard-hearted mom. Hearing my little baby cry makes my mama bear instincts go berzerk! Here are a few reasons why I chose to ignore those instincts, and what I did to distract myself:
- I bought a video monitor so I could actually see that my baby was fine. He was just fed, fresh diaper, the room is a good temperature and he is not stuck anywhere (because we follow safe sleeping guidelines!)
- I learned to interpret his cries as “I’m tired” instead of “come and get me, it’s an emergency!”
- At bedtime, I went to a place where I could not hear the crying unless I turned the monitor on. For me, this was the garage. I watched him the whole time but didn’t have to listen.
- At nighttime, I wore headphones to bed to dampen the noise. I could still hear him when he woke up so I could look at the monitor, but it made the time more manageable.
Did I feel guilty during this ordeal?
Yes and no. No mother wants to helplessly sit and listen to her baby cry. Fortunately, I like to think in the long game. I look at my 4-year-old daughter who for years has happily skipped to bed for naps and bedtime and I want the same for my son. Four nights of pain equals a lot of gain in my household.
There have been studies conducted (that I trust) which say that sleep training a baby does not cause short or long-term harm to their health. Studies show that infants who get more sleep are healthier and can develop and focus at a faster rate. Because of all of these studies, I ask myself, can I do the hard thing to help my baby get ahead?
Finally, I really don’t talk about this method in my real-life unless I’m asked point blank. People have their opinions about how to raise kids, but luckily with having my second child, I have the confidence to care less and less about said opinions. I’m raising my kids as my husband and I see fit, and it’s really no one else’s business unless they’re asking me for advice.
4. What do you do when your baby is sick?
So Leo has had some days where he’s had a fever, a bad rash on his bum because of diarrhea, or a tiny cough. Nothing too serious, but it’s caused some extra night wakings. I most definitely get up with him, comfort him, and have even nursed him on occasion (maybe twice?).
I feel no guilt in comforting him and “going against” the rules of this sleep training. All bets are off when your kid is sick- in my opinion, they should be comforted, given medication and attention when they’re not feeling well (that’s what I want when I’m sick too!).
When he recovered from his illness or discomfort, I simply reverted back to normal nights. So far (fingers crossed), this hasn’t resulted in extra wakings at night. If there were extra wakings, I would most definitely allow him to put himself back to sleep and continue to practice his awesome new sleeping skills.
5. Did you drop the swaddle/pacifier?
You betcha I did!
At 12 weeks, we stopped rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep, giving a pacifier, having his baby nest, using a swaddle sack and responding to his wakings.
Bedtime from birth to 12 weeks with Leo usually took 2-3 hours. Lots of rocking and c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y placing him in the crib asleep, praying that he wouldn’t pop his eyes open. We took shifts watching Netflix on our phones while we tried to get him into a deep enough slumber to get him to sleep. Not fun times, guys.
Not fun times, guys.
We knew we had a rough night ahead of us. So, we decided the kind thing to do to Leo was to wean him off all of the things he’d need weaning off of to sleep properly all at once.
We replaced his swaddle with a sleep sack. We plan to use it as a part of his nighttime routine until he is at least 2 years of age. When we did this with our daughter, and it prevented her from climbing out of the crib right up until she potty trained. The only reason we stopped was because it became a hindrance to night time toileting!
6. What did you do about naps?
Naps are a bit of a different story. At 12 weeks, Leo’s circadian rhythms still weren’t quite in place enough to train for naps. He was still taking frequent naps. Also, we were on the cusp of transitioning from 4 naps to 3 per day.
At just before 4 months, we successfully had him down to 3 naps. About 90% of them were happening in the crib after a good feed (breastfeeding to sleep).
Currently, at 5 months, I’ve decided to drop the breastfeeding to sleep during the day. It’s been causing a few more “lap naps” and cat naps than I’m happy doing. It’s really messing with his afternoon schedule and my sanity.
So things aren’t perfect, just being transparent 🙂
What’s your experience?
So there’s my experience with sleep training. With my daughter, we used a separate method that didn’t quite work as well. But we were still able to put healthy sleeping habits in place. What’s your chosen sleep training method? Did you have success with it? Are you struggling with sleep training currently? Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.