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We have a 14 month old boy. While we are not anti sleep training, we haven't done it because he is usually a good sleeper and we are currently lazier than we are desperate. But we do need to rock him to sleep, and sometimes it takes a while. I was just curious: Without sleep training, at what age do kids start going to sleep independently? When should I start to expect that or begin to nudge him in that direction? I mean, before sleep training existed, kids learned this eventually, right? I tried to research it, but a lot of what I found was either fiercely pro- or anti-sleep training, and I am somewhere in the middle. (We do follow guidelines on safe sleep and do not believe in co-sleeping).

Adding some clarification: I am aware we are not currently sleep training. What I meant about being neutral is more being philosophically neutral on the idea. When I try to research a question like "Without sleep training, at what age will a child sleep independently?" I get a lot of mommy blogs talking about how sleep training is torture or abuse. I just wanted to be clear that I am not in that camp. I think it is an appropriate tool for some families. On the other hand, when I do look up sleep training, a lot of it is couched in "Its hard but its better than being sleep deprivated and at your wits end." And that's not where we currently are either. 90% of the time he sleeps through the night already, and I've been informed that sleep training wouldn't necessarily address that 10%.

I was just curious what a natural progression looks like and its really hard to find info out there that just describes stages without being pro or anti sleep training. And what I am hearing from anongoodnurse and others is that maybe its because those stages don't exist. But if anyone has any other insight into that, I'm all ears.

Also -- since posting this, we have tried to ease on what exactly we do to put him down. I used to rock and sing to him. Now we just hold. But we are still no where near being able to just plop him in the crib awake.

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    There are milestones that "normal" children reach within a fairly accurate range. This is absolutely not one of them. It is very much child-dependent. May 10, 2023 at 21:30
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    Is it possible your question could be restated as "when will our son be able to sleep without us rocking him to sleep?" If so, that's an easier question to answer, because changing a bedtime routine is a common parenting challenge.
    – user42851
    May 13, 2023 at 4:20
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    By developing an association between you rocking the child to sleep and the act of the child falling asleep, you decrease the likelihood of your child learning how to self-soothe and thus falling asleep independently. I don't know the answer to your question. But it seems to me that rocking the child to sleep is not neutral, it is very much contrary to the concept of sleep training. FWIW, I have seen very poor sleep habits and lack of independent falling asleep in children up to 3 years old, and in one case, 11 years old. As @anongoodnurse mentioned, this is very child-dependent. May 14, 2023 at 17:11
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    In addition to what the others say, in my experience falling asleep without your presence does not have to be a one-time event (as in, once your child does it, they will keep doing it for the rest of their lives). It can also go back and forth, with months of independent sleeping followed by months that your presence is needed. May 15, 2023 at 15:05
  • For us it was a step by step thing. Being carried until at sleep - simple lay down together in the same place until sleep (is not co sleeping for the whole night) - start going a little earlier, with promise to come back in a minute (i.e. to prepare the warm-up-stuffed-toy) and building trust by really coming back! - stay a little longer (i.e. need to do stuff like clean kitchen after dinner) ... It works better or not on a daily basis, as me too as adult feel some days more powerful than others. May 24, 2023 at 13:24

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Your child will be able to go to sleep on his own when he's ready, when you're ready, and when you've developed a routine that you're both comfortable with that will allow him do that.

To state it another way, no one can tell you at what age your child will be able to fall asleep on their own because it's an event that varies so greatly between children it doesn't actually exist as a milestone. It's a happy event, but not a universal childhood milestone that can be pinned down to a certain age.

When you're ready, you can modify your son's bedtime routine, using sleep training or just changing it as you see fit, and see how it goes, and find out if at 14 months your son is ready to fall asleep on his own.

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