Four Sleep Training Techniques To Try At Home
The phrase ‘sleep training’ can be a confusing one, mainly because it means different things to different families. And this is understandable; there are many ways to sleep train your little one!
In general, the process of sleep training refers to anything parents do to help a baby or toddler fall asleep on his own and stay asleep, without frequent waking. Usually, babies aren’t ready for sleep training until they’re about 4 months old. After that point, there are a variety of sleep training techniques you can try to help your baby or toddler learn healthy, restful sleeping habits.
Sleep Training Technique #1: The Fading Method
This is a gentle sleep training method that involves almost no crying. With this method, you help your baby fall asleep, but you gradually take yourself out of the equation. Up to this point, you’ve likely done most of the work to help your baby or toddler fall asleep; now, you will develop rules to follow that will shift the “work” to your child. For instance, if you have always rocked your baby all the way to sleep, you might rock him less time and put him in the crib drowsy but awake, and let him try to fall asleep on his own. If he gets worked up, you try to quiet and soothe him using other methods until he’s asleep. Over time (the pace is yours), you should do less and less “work,” and your child should do more.
Sleep Training Technique #2: The Chair Method
This technique involves some crying, but it allows you to be in the room with your child at all times. Start by doing your normal bedtime routine; then, put a chair very close to the crib and sit on it while your child falls asleep. You don’t want to help your child fall asleep. You are generally not supposed to give your child very much attention. The reason you are in the chair is only to reassure him that you are there with him. Each night you move the chair further and further away from the crib, until your child is finally able to fall asleep without you in the room. This method can be very difficult and can take many days or weeks and it can be difficult to avoid engaging with your child. However, with time and consistency, this can be a good option for parents who do not want to leave their child alone to cry, but who haven’t had success with other methods, either.
Sleep Training Technique #3: The Check-And-Console Method (aka “Ferberizing”)
This method entails allowing baby to cry while checking on her at intervals. The goal here is both to reassure yourself (by making sure baby is okay) and to reassure your baby. When you go to check on baby, your goal is to simply reassure her and give a loving pat for 2-3 minutes, tops (watch the clock!). The idea is that your baby falls asleep in the same “environment” in which she will awaken periodically throughout the night. The knowledge of how to fall asleep unassisted at bedtime will pave the way for her to go BACK to sleep throughout the night.
Sleep Training Technique #4: The Cry-It-Out Method
This is similar to the check-and-console method, only without the check-and- console part — you leave your child completely alone to fall asleep. At night, you do not put a limit to the crying; if you allow her to cry for let’s say 30 minutes and then “rescue” her, you have all but guaranteed that much crying or more next time. It is imperative that you be 100% consistent and follow through. Crying methods tend to produce fast results (3-4 nights, in many cases), but if you don’t want to let your baby cry, that’s okay!
Choose another method. This is a method that some parents simply don’t feel comfortable with.
No “Right Way”
There is no “right way” when it comes to sleep training your baby. The method that you use will have to be one that works for your baby and for you, taking your unique personalities and temperaments into account. The important thing isn’t which method you use; in the end, what matters most is that your baby learns healthy, restful sleeping habits and the both of you get the sleep you deserve.
About The Baby Sleep SiteTM
The Baby Sleep Site™ is an online platform dedicated to helping struggling parents and their babies or toddlers get the sleep they deserve. Founded by Nicole Johnson, sleep coach, wife, and mother of two boys, The Baby Sleep Site offers free resources, E-books, one-on-one sleep consulting for every budget and much more. Nicole’s team of seasoned consultants provides personalized, knowledgeable, thoughtful, and encouraging support no matter where you are in your journey to better sleep.
With a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Ohio State University, Nicole received an honorary degree in “Surviving Sleep Deprivation” thanks to her son’s “no sleep” curriculum. She became an expert on infant and toddler sleep and made it her mission to help other parents solve their child’s sleep problems, too.