Wednesday Opinion: Experts, Sleep Training

Richard Ferber, pediatrician and author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems
"By the time your baby is 3 months old and has developed a fairly predictable 24-hour pattern, it becomes more important for you to provide increasingly consistent structure. If you do your best to establish a reasonable and consistent daily routine and keep to it as much as possible, then it is likely that your child will continue to develop good patterns. If instead you allow the times of your child's feedings, playtimes, baths, and other activities to change constantly, chances are his sleep will become irregular as well."

Marc Weissbluth, pediatrician and author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

"For infants under 3 or 4 months of age, you should try to flow with the child's need for sleep. Don't expect predictable sleep schedules, and don't try to enforce them rigidly...After about 4 months, I think parents can influence sleep durations."

William Sears, pediatrician and author of The Baby Sleep Book

"Be prepared for one style of nighttime parenting to work at one stage of an infant's life yet need a change as he enters another stage. Be open to trying different approaches. Follow your heart rather than some stranger's sleep training advice, and you and your baby will eventually work out the right nighttime parenting style for your family."

Cathryn Tobin, pediatrician and author of The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan

"After completing my residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, one of the world's busiest pediatric medical centers, it struck me that our culture goes about infant sleep training completely backward. First we allow bad sleep habits to form, then we go to extremes trying to break them. Once I recognized this crucial mistake, the solution to the dreadful problem of sleep deprivation became crystal clear: Encourage young babies to develop good habits right from the start, and you won't need to break bad ones down the road."

Jodi Mindell, psychologist and author of Sleeping Through the Night

"The more practice your baby gets putting himself to sleep, the quicker the process works. He will fall asleep on his own, and you will get the sleep you need...Don't wait too long, though. The earlier, the better. Remember, once your baby gets older — that is, at least 5 or 6 months -- the process of getting your child on a sleep schedule and to sleep through the night gets more difficult."

Tracy Hogg, nurse and author of Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

"What a good many people don't realize is that babies need parents' direction to establish proper sleep habits. In fact, the reason so-called sleep problems are common is because so many parents don't realize that they, not their babies, must control bedtime."