It’s Time to Choose Your Sleep Training Method
Welcome to part 4 of our sleep training series – the sleep training method. You may be surprised this is the last ‘sleep tool’ we talk about, but because the creation of our baby’s sleep habits is so close to completion this is where you really get to adjust things for your finished product.
If you have used the first sleep tools we discussed – the sleep environment, the schedule, and the routine and are happy with the results, congratulations! If you are still seeing less than stellar sleep due to your child needing your help to fall asleep or there are things you want to change along the way – dropping a feed for example, or lengthening out those early morning waking’s, then you will want to figure out how you are going to respond when your baby wakes.
That is the sleep training method you choose.
In choosing a plan you must be comfortable with following it so that you can be consistent. Consistency is key in introducing anything. You stuck to your bedtime routine consistently to show the series of steps before sleep. You didn’t expect them to understand on the first night but they do over time. It’s the same with your method. Give yourself 7 – 10 days before changing or tweaking anything. For most parents when they think of their level of comfort they are really thinking about their baby crying and what they will want to do. The good news is the crying goes away, the bad news is that crying does happen, even with the gentlest methods. It makes sense – you may be about to change things drastically, especially if you have been bouncing, rocking, feeding etc to sleep and the way to protest change is to cry. It doesn’t mean the change is bad, it just means its change. As adults we know things have to change but as parents we don’t want to hear our babies cry. Sleep training is hard, I’m not gonna lie, but it’s why I created Good Night Sleep Site so that we can help and support parents through the sleep training process to get to the healthy, restorative sleep that is at the end. The methods presented here are not all of the methods out there, but these are the ones that we have found work again and again and are supported by our consultants here at Good Night Sleep Site.
- Cry It Out (CIO): Let’s dive right in with this one, as most people have heard about it. The most controversial method, this method may produce more short-term tears; it is the one to choose for quick results. After his soothing bedtime routine you would place baby in his crib awake and you would not go back into the room until your scheduled feed or the morning. Provided you are also focusing on the other pieces of the sleep training recipe; daytime sleep, conducive sleep environment, and age appropriate bedtimes, your baby may respond better than you would imagine and I promise he will still love you in the morning.
- Gradual Checks: Often confused with CIO this method is the middle of the road method. Following that same consistent bedtime routine, you would place your baby in his crib awake and leave the room. If baby starts crying you would enter the room through timed intervals to soothe and comfort. Each time the intervals get longer and every day the intervals get longer. The pro of this method, otherwise known as the Ferber Method, is that parents are able to reassure themselves by going in to check on their baby but they are also allowing him the opportunity to practice the skill of self-soothing on his own.
- The Chair Method: This is a gradual method where once you have placed your child in his crib awake, you would sit in a chair next to his crib until he falls asleep. If he wakes throughout the night you would sit back in the chair. The more gradual the method the longer it takes and every few days you would move the chair further out of the room until you are out completely, gradually fading out your presence.
Before you choose your sleep training method, sit down with your partner and talk about the methods – you are a team and everyone needs to be on board and support each other. If your team feels that it needs a coach to learn from and give support, that’s what we’re here for! We would be more than happy to help you set up your sleep training plan and support you through the process.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.