Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. There are several sleep strategies available for parents to experiment with but one important factor for success is consistency.
There is no right or wrong way of sleep training. Every baby is unique and will react to different sleep training methods differently. You will likely be successful with a particular sleep training method when it matches your baby’s personality and temperament and your own parenting style.
Sensitive children require a slower approach that helps them to adapt slowly to falling asleep and staying asleep. They also require lots of comfort and physical contact. Easy going children typically adapt well with gentle methods such as No Tears and Fading sleep techniques. A strong willed child, on the other hand, most likely does best with the Cry It Out method.
Other factors to consider are what are your strengths and limitations as a parent to see the sleep training method to the end. Every baby requires some time to adjust so before you give up on sleep training, give it at least 7 to 10 days. You can also modify and adjust the technique to suit your baby’s needs.
Types of Sleep Training Methods
- No Tears Method
This technique involves slowly shifting your child’s sleeping habits by gently easing out of how involved you are to help her sleep. One strategy to employ is known as substitution which involves altering the bedtime routine. If your baby usually nurses before bedtime, you can try reading a book to him instead.
- Fading Method
This technique is no-cry or very little cry involved method of sleep training. Here, you still continue to help your baby fall asleep whether that is by nursing her to sleep or gently rocking her. For instance, if your baby always needs to be rocked before she sleeps, this method helps by reducing the time you take to rock her to sleep every day until you can put her down to sleep without the need to rock her first.
This technique requires lots of patience but is ideal for families who want minimal crying especially if there are other younger children who will be disturbed by the endless crying of the baby at night.
- Cry It Out Method
This technique involves a lot of crying on your baby’s part. It involves putting your baby to bed after their bedtime routine and leaving the room and not returning for any checks. When your baby cries, you do not go back into the room to check on her instead, you let her cry it out on her own.
This method presupposes that if you leave your baby for a certain period of time then go in to check on her every time she cries, she will always expect you to come back and check in on her.
- Weissbluth Method
This sleep technique involves establishing and following your baby’s bed time routine consistently where that involves taking a bath, reading a book or a lullaby. Once the bedtime routine is complete, you put your baby to bed and do not return until morning.
- Ferber Method
This method involves letting your child cry but you get to check on him at set intervals. The purpose of checking up on him is to reassure yourself that all is well and also reassures him that you are nearby even though you are not in the room with him.
However, when you go to check on him, you do not pick him up or engage him too much. Talk to him and soothe him with your voice for about 2-3 minutes or gently pat him but that’s all. Ensure you don’t stay more than 3 minutes with him in the room.
The goal of this method is to help your child fall asleep on their own and go back to sleep by himself when he wakes up at night. Since he is in the same environment, letting him fall asleep on his own allows him to go back to sleep unassisted when he periodically wakes up at night.
As you progress, increase the time interval in between your checks. You might check on him every 10 minutes for the first night then every 15 minutes the next night. The goal is to keep increasing the time intervals gradually until you do not need to check on him the entire night.
- Chair Method
This method starts by following your usual baby bedtime routine. Afterward, you place a chair next to her crib and watch her fall asleep. The goal here is not to help your baby fall asleep but to simply reassure her with your presence in the room. You are not supposed to give your baby any attention or try and calm her down. She is supposed to fall asleep on her own.
The purpose of the chair is that with time you keep moving it further away from the crib until you are outside the door. With time, you will no longer need the chair at all as your baby will be accustomed to falling asleep on her own.
This technique requires a lot of patience and it can be quite difficult for parents not to engage with their child when she is crying and they are in the same room with her. It can take several days and weeks depending on your child’s temperament. It is however ideal for parents who do not want to leave their baby alone to cry and who have not had much success with other sleep training methods. With time and consistency, this method helps children to sleep throughout the night by themselves.
- Pick Up Put Down Method
This sleep technique involves putting your baby to bed when he is awake and it’s time to sleep. When he fusses, pick him up, comfort him then put him back down. Repeat this cycle until your baby finally falls asleep.
This method requires lots of patience though it varies from baby to baby. Some babies may become over stimulated by the picking up and putting down instead of helping them to relax and fall asleep.