DBA means Drowsy But Awake. If you’ve read aaalllll the sleep books and blogs out there, you know they all talk about this concept: “drowsy but awake.” In order to have your child sleeping through the night, he must be placed into the crib drowsy but awake. The problem is that most people misunderstand this concept. Then, when they try to implement it, they don't even realize they're doing it wrong.
When sleep training your child, you are teaching him how to put himself to sleep at the onset of sleep so that he can do it again in the middle of the night. If your child isn’t putting himself to sleep at bedtime, it is unfair to expect him to put himself back to sleep at 2:00 a.m.
For your child to learn the skill of putting himself to sleep, you must give him the opportunity. Entering the crib fully asleep after being rocked to sleep defeats this purpose. This means your baby must be placed into the crib “drowsy but awake” so he can learn how to put himself to sleep.
How do I do it, and make sure I do it right?
You want to do the bedtime routine at the right time--not too late. Waiting till the last minute to start the process is already too late.
Once you are done with feeding and the bedtime routine, lay your child down in the crib awake, not asleep. Make sure not to rock or hold him too long, or feed him to a drowsy state.
If your child is awake when you are done with the routine, you don’t need to hold him until he gets to a drowsy state. In fact, the more awake, the better.
On a scale from 1-10 (1 being awake and 10 being asleep), your child should not be past a “6." So if your child is drowsy, make sure he’s not too drowsy where his eyes are closing and he’s struggling to stay awake.
Finally, if you child is falling asleep “within a minute,” he is entering the crib too drowsy. Often parents say, “oh, he was awake and as soon as I put him down he just turned over and fell right asleep.” If that's happening, he’s too sleepy when you put him in. On average, it takes up to 15 minutes for a child to put himself to sleep. So if he really fell asleep within a couple of minutes, then he was more asleep than drowsy but awake.
You can start practicing DBA with your baby as young as 2 months. At this point you will still need to assist your little one in putting himself to sleep, as he is still too young to learn how to self-soothe. But you can definitely start practicing!