6 SLEEP TRAINING METHODS - WHATS RIGHT FOR YOUR BABY?
How do I get my baby to sleep through the night? I think we've all been there, after a couple of weeks of sleep deprivation we so desperately needs to get more than a couple hours of sleep at a time but how in the world do we go from where we are to fully sleep trained? I've written about the French parenting techniques that have earned their place is modern parenting practices - along with the infamous idea that French infants sleep through the night from a very early age! A 3 month old that gets more than 2-3 hours of sleep is a DREAM! And I bet you think that it's nearly impossible for you right now, but I'm here to tell you its possible to gain back your sleep and get your baby on a great bedtime routine with sleep training.
A lot of the time, with most babies you need to teach your baby good sleeping habits by creating a routine. Believe it or not but infants have an emended capability of learning and are able to crisp routines quite early, relying on their senses. Getting on a sleep routine with your baby can not only help you get more shut eye, but also help your baby get the much needed rest they need for proper development and growth. Sleep routines help your baby regulate melatonin levels and to develop a natural body clock which helps them get to sleep on their own.
What is the most effective method to get your child to sleep through the night?
What is Sleep Training?
Simply put, sleep training is teaching your child how to fall asleep on their own without the need for routines, rocking, singing or any other aide. Many infants fall asleep but periodically awake though the night needing to be soothed, training them to soothe themselves and fall back asleep aides them in getting longer spans of sleep without awaking.
Why Sleep Train?
Because mommy needs sleep too - duh?! Am I right? ha ha but jokes aside sleep training helps the baby most of all. Babies who are able to sleep through the night in 6-9 hour spans or longer are much more rested well adapted and behaved. getting a good nights sleep is essential for your baby to too focus during waking hours on other developmental milestones. So whether your rocking your infant reading this article or your 6 month old is still not sleeping well through the night and you don't know what else to do- keep reading its not too late to start!
6 Popular sleep training methods - explained.
1. The Pause
A gentle approach explained quite well in the popular French parenting book 'bringing up bebe'. Though its fairly simple - don't tend to your babies cry every time they fuss. Just pause for a moment or minute..or two each time. You'll most likely be able to know the difference between your baby wanting attention and there being a real emergency or need. Once your baby realizes you won't come to soothe easily, they will learn to fall back asleep easier and easier each time - eventually sleeping through the night. This isn't necessarily a bedtime antidote to sleep training though, its a lifestyle and parenting choice, even during full waking hours you don't immediately respond to a cry, fuss or tantrums therefore teaching your child to develop patience and that they will not be immediately gratified for every whine. This is also said to be a good technique for them to develop full emotional control as they grow and gain independence.
2. Ferber method
The Ferber sleep training method involves leaving your baby alone uninterrupted for timed intervals- no matter how much your baby cries or fusses. Once the baby realizes you will not attend to them easily they eventually learn to fall asleep on their own and soothe their own emotional needs. Admittedly this method is somewhat controversial for obvious reasons I think, its a little bit like going cold turkey so it may not be all that appropriate for an infant, more so 6mo +. Another point is that not all babies cry for the sake of getting a pat on the back so this method could backfire if your child is in true need of care. Ultimately you could opt for the best parts of this method which is to let the child "cry it out" for a few minutes then gradually increasing the time before you go in to check on them, but not ignoring the child all together at bed time.
3. Cry it out
Cry it out sleep training is similar to most methods you'll see - you allow your baby to cry as much as necessary for them to learn to self soothe. Unlike the Ferber method which has a standard set of dos and dont's your baby can cry it out on your flexible terms whether you choose to allow them to cry for a minute before going in their room and comforting them or picking them up. No matter how to dice it the baby will essentially cry until they learn to regulate their emotions enough to self soothe and fall asleep all by themselves.
4. Fade it out
Having an exceptionally hard time getting your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. We are all there one point or another. If leaving your child to cry and cry while you patiently wait for silence from their room is just not working and you've reach your wits end, then maybe the fade out method is more your speed. With fade out sleep training you use time each day to get in tune with your child's emotional cues and adjust their schedule around what they need when they need it. It's far from a cold turkey approach to sleep training and personally I am in favor with this method especially as a stay at home mom because we have the most flexibility and allotted time to be patient finding a schedule that works.
5. Pick up put down
As with most of the techniques listed here this one is also pretty straight forward. The pick up put down method is exactly that - when your baby fusses after being put down to sleep you go in and comfort them by picking them up and holding them until they are comforted, continuing to do this each time they wake. This works in the way of your baby feeling safe and supported and they will gradually need less of that external validation creating a sense of comfort intriniscally. Though the pick up put down method does take much time and patience and can be very draining on the caregivers, with time your baby will be sleeping all on their own and you will both get a bit of much needed shut eye!
6. No cry method
The no cry sleep training method is another comfort based approach and quite opposite (as the name suggests) of the cry it out approach. In this approach, after baby has been put down to sleep, you simply pick up your baby when they begin to fuss. BUT, you DO NOT attempt to sooth or calm more than just holding your baby - because otherwise it might cause more distraction. Once baby is settled and calmed you put your baby back in their crib and repeat as necessary through the night.
We all suffer from sleep exhaustion at one point or another - that's just the simple truth of becoming a parent. In the end you just need to find what works for your child, their personality and your family. Truthfully I think my husband and I probably tried every single one of these methods- some intentionally and some just by sheer coincidence and desperation for a decent nights sleep!