by Mei Lele

August 25, 2022

sleep training extinction burst

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Seeing a baby sleeping soundly is the happiest thing for a mother. You think that you've found the best sleep training for your baby. One day, two days, three days have passed, and everything is going well. He has entered the routine. 

But today, the baby refuses to sleep and cries. You wonder why? Is this sleep training extinction burst? What do you do when your baby's old sleep habits creep back?

Especially, does sleep training extinction burst mean it gets worse before it gets better? Mothers will need to know everything about it. 

Let's go deeper.

What Is An Extinction Burst In Sleep Training? 

sleep training extinction burst

Extinction bursts are a common phenomenon that occurs during sleep training. It usually occurs after a period of successful sleep training, when the baby suddenly realizes that they are alone and may feel anxious or scared. At this point, he will tend to reverse the previous process by fussing and waking up as often as in response.

Extinction bursts are normal and should be expected, but they can be frustrating for parents trying to help their child learn to sleep independently.

Does Sleep Training Get Worse Before It Gets Better?

sleep training extinction burst

It's a common question from parents starting to sleep training their baby: does it get worse before it gets better? And unfortunately, the answer is often yes. The extinction burst is often a sign that the sleep training is working and that it's a necessary part of the process.

Getting worse before it gets better means that on a 2-week sleep training routine, there will be a few days when your baby suddenly becomes fussy and wakes up more often at night. 

It usually happens after the baby has had a bit of progress for the first few days. You can also think of the burst time as an obstacle before you reach the finish line. If you pass it, you will successfully train your baby to sleep.  

The fact that your baby is starting to respond to sleep training is just like the method is and exists. In the beginning, everything will not go the way you want. If you can tough it out and stick with the sleep training, you may find it worth it. 

What Happens During An Extinction Burst?

I've also researched and read moms' comments on forums about what happens in an extinction burst. Here are some of the baby's reactions:

sleep training extinction burst
  • The baby wakes up a lot and cries more than he did before during the night (about 15-30 minutes/per). Crying time fluctuates from day to day.
  • Your baby wakes up more often but isn't fussy. He sleeps only about 1-2 hours/per time after waking up at night.
  • The baby wakes up and cries for feeding. Only after being fed do they go back to sleep. It happened several times in one night.

How Long Does Sleep Training Extinction Last?

The good news for moms is that extinction bursts usually last for 3-5 days or as long as a week. It is just a temporary reaction of the baby during sleep training, and then he will start to settle into their new sleep routine and sleep through the night.

5 Tips On How To Control Extinction Bursts For Mothers

Some parents find that the sleep training extinction burst makes the process more difficult and stressful. And it's not just the crying that can be tough to deal with - it's also the lack of sleep. 

I do not deny that. But all problems will have their solutions. Here are 5 tips for dealing with the extinction burst that moms need.

Calm down

sleep training extinction burst

Of course, seeing your baby cry and wake up a lot will make your mind panic and not know what to do next. 

First, you have to stay calm. Again I want to tell you that an extinction burst is usual and can expect. Don't worry much. Instead, calmly face it. An extinction quickly passes if you know how to deal with it.

Be consistent with the sleep training method you choose

Before that, as your baby has progressed, it is significant to stick to one sleep training method. Don't switch back and forth, as it will only confuse him.

Moreover, you should be patient. It may take a few nights for your baby to adjust to the new sleep routine and get through the burst. But if you're consistent, he will get used to self-soothing and sleep better. 

Don't give in

If your child cries or fusses at night, remember not to give in and put them back to bed. You can comfort your baby, but don't do this for too long and never pick him up.

Giving in will only create setbacks and a more challenging road ahead. Try to push through and not respond to your baby's reactions. Only on the horizon is sleep more peaceful for everyone.

Have a set bedtime routine and stick to it

It will help your baby know when it's time to sleep and make the transition easier. For example, you can feed him close to bedtime so that he doesn't wake up repeatedly from hunger. 

Seek support

If you find this process difficult and unsure of what to do, there is no shame in seeking help from a trusted sleep coach or other parents who've been through the process. They will give you good tips for your child's sleep. 

sleep training extinction burst


You also should know that extinction bursts are a part of sleep training. It pretty much tells you whether you're on the right track or not. And it's not a severe problem.

While it can be frustrating and challenging to deal with an extinction burst, it is significant to remember that it is only a temporary phase. With patience and persistence, babies will eventually learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.

Be confident that you can get through it.


About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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