You are ready to sleep train, but the information out there can be overwhelming and discouraging. Which sleep training method should you choose? Not to worry, sleep training doesn’t need to be so hard!
Often when we think of sleep training we think we need to choose the method and that’s the only thing we tend to focus on within our sleep plan. I look at the steps of sleep training as sleep tools within your sleep tool kit, and the method you choose is only one of the tools.
A consistent and safe sleep environment, regular sleep schedule, and proper bedtime routine should also be included in your sleep tool box. While choosing the sleep training method is just one small part in the overall sleep training process, if you are focused on getting your baby to sleep through the night and take longer naps here are some methods you need to know:
CRY IT OUT (CIO) EXTINCTION
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 your 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 sleep tools, your baby may respond better than you would imagine and I promise he will still love you in the morning.
Often confused with CIO, this method is the middle of the road sleep training 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. Every few days you would move the chair further out of the room until you are out completely, gradually fading out your presence.
THE METHOD OF NOTHING
If what you are doing with your family; safely co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, or bouncing on a ball to sleep, works for you then who am I to tell you to stop? It’s when you are doing these things and you and your family aren’t getting the sleep you need to function as a well-rested and happy unit, change needs to be made and you may need to switch to one of the above methods.
BUT HOW DO I CHOOSE?
When trying to find the best method for your family you need to consider the following:
- Age of Your Child: I see it happen time and time again. Parents start sleep training too early and get discouraged when they don’t see results. I wouldn’t start a formal sleep training plan until the child is at least 4-6 months of age.
- Your Temperament: Because every family and situation is different, there isn’t one method or program to use. My goal is to educated parents on all methods, and that they choose the method they are most comfortable with. Consistency is key to success and if you’re not comfortable with the method you use you won’t be consistent in the process. Make sure to choose a method that you and your partner will truly be able to follow through with.
- Your Child’s Temperament: While you need a method that matches your parenting philosophy, it’s also very important to choose one that matches your child’s temperament and personality. Unfortunately, it’s not always the same method. There will be more success and you will see faster results with a sleep training approach that your child will best respond to.
YOU ARE A TEAM
You need to sit down with one another and choose a method that you both agree on. We can assure you that you will need the support of one another at certain times throughout the process. There is a better chance of success if you are on the same page.
GIVE IT TIME
Patience everyone! Some kids can take longer than others. No plan is set in stone. It takes at least 18 days to change a habit so give yourself 3 weeks of working on things consistently before tweaking, if need be.
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 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, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.