My baby is napping and I have 30 minutes before I have to go pick up my toddler from school so I thought I would do a quick post.

Reading the book is a MUST, but if you want a quick overview of how 12 by 12 works, here it is, all in 1 post:

Once your baby reaches 9 pounds, is eating 24 ounces in a 24 hour period and is at least 4 weeks old — and you are mentally ready to start training — you can begin! (I usually start around 6-8 weeks)

STEP 1: Choose your 12 hour window that you want your baby to be in the crib, and then divide your day into 4 feeds 4 hours apart. I will always use 7pm – 7am as an example but the concepts apply to any window. So for 7-7, my DAY should look like (for feeding): 7am feed, 11am feed, 3pm feed and 7pm feed.

(Read my post here about starting with 7pm but then moving it earlier)

Will this happen in one day? Most likely no. You start from the morning and you try and get AS CLOSE to 4 hours as you can. Everyday you work on the stretching until your baby is eating during the day at those times without any trouble.

During Step 1, you focus on the day feeds and you let the baby wake up according to their natural sleep patterns at night and feed them when they wake up. (I pump during the day for the night bottles and don’t produce milk at night, this way when it is not my turn for the night feeds I get to sleep straight through –but it is definitely a lot more work during the day as I need to pump several extra times in addition to nursing full time – but Pumping we will save for another post) The book encourages you to keep a log of the feedings, and I find it very helpful for doing the training.

Here is a page from my log when my baby is 4 weeks old.


STEP 2: You reduce the night feeds (one at a time) by .5 oz every 3 nights. So if you are starting with 4.5 oz, you only offer 4 oz for 3 nights in a row and then 3.5 oz the next 3 nights, until you are down to 0 – OR the baby sleeps through it on their own. The book discusses which feeds to cut out first, so if you have more than one night feed make sure to check which one should be reduced first.

Usually a baby will eat around 2 am every night and then on their own sleep later and only wake up at 3:30 lets say, so then 3:30 am is your new nighttime feed.

I like to point out that ANY feed after the 7 pm day feed is considered a night feed. So if your baby cries and wakes up to eat at 10 pm – that is a night feed and should be done the same way as all the night feeds — lights off, no eye contact with baby, quickly and quietly. The night feeds are not the time to interact with your baby – your goal is to be in and out as fast as possible and to hopefully have them back asleep very quickly.

STEP 3: Establish a bedtime routine. I actually do Step 3 even before I start Step 1. We do the same routine every night – Bath, Lotion, PJs, Feed, Book, change into overnight diaper – sleepsack on – into the crib eyes open, mobile on, sleep sheep white noise on (goes off after 45 minutes) say goodnight “I love you” (sing Hamalach and Shema) and turn off the lights and close the door.

(In step 3 of the book she address what to do if your baby cries. You have to try it out and do what works best for your baby.)

STEP 4: Naps. Ah, the dreaded naps. With my first son, I was SO happy that the first steps went so smoothly that I didn’t even do step 4. We did everything “wrong” when it came to napping him and it was not an enjoyable experience for anyone. (I will elaborate more in a future post)

With baby 2, I attempted step 4 with such dedication. To be honest, I didn’t follow the book for step 4, I am just calling step 4 – nap training. I didn’t nap train until he was sleeping through the night not a problem, and during the training I wasn’t so concerned with where he was napping but rather that he WAS napping during the day because an overtired baby is much harder to train than a rested baby. I promise to do a post on my nap fails with baby 1 and my huge nap success with baby 2 — if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – right?

**Disclaimer, I wrote this post without looking at the book for reference — so excuse any errors etc. Hope you enjoyed this quick post with the “Shpiel” I usually give when friends ask about sleep training.

Just as I was about to hit Publish – I got a message for a question for the blog:

“At what age is it too late to do 12 by 12?” -Love, Desperate for sleep mommy

Great question R!! I believe the concepts of the book can be applied for a very long time. If a baby is 6 months and above there will be modifications in the steps – for example the day schedule won’t be as important because the baby is already eating solids etc and you know they do not NEED the food in the middle of the night and it is really more of a comfort.

In those cases, you need to use the concepts of the book to empower yourself and be confident that this is best for you and your baby. You want to teach that bedtime and the crib is not a scary thing. You stay consistent and you make sure you give your child the tools they need to self soothe. It is a SKILL to be able to sleep, and one that your baby will learn and you will teach them. I’ll never forget reading the line in the book, “Rocking a twelve-week-old baby over and over again in a glider until he falls asleep is the equivalent of carrying a two-year old everywhere in your arms over and over again. In each case, the babies have the ability to sleep or walk, respectively, but the parents are constantly “fixing” it for them instead of guiding the babies to do it on their own.”(pg. 19) {Yes, I went and got the book to reference this – no, I don’t know the lines by heart :)}

The point is, you teaching your baby this skill of falling asleep on their own, putting themselves back to sleep, self-soothing and being able to wake up and hang out instead of screaming, is all for their benefit. (And yours too, of course!) In fact, a lot of these points spill over into my parenting philosophy as well. We want to raise our children to be able to handle challenges. We can’t always be “fixers.”

Suzy Giordano (author of 12 by 12) elaborates on teaching this skill and really helped me feel empowered to do so. In fact, she comments on an extreme experience where she even once trained a 5 year old boy who had been sleeping in his mother’s bed for 2 years. Suzy makes me think – anything is possible!