Sleep training, as the name suggests, is teaching a baby to sleep independently without any help from their parents. The purpose is to teach babies to fall asleep once they are put down for bed, without rocking movements, swaying, nursing, cuddling, or shushing. As you can imagine, it’s much easier for parents to go to sleep when their newborn falls asleep without their help.
Sleep training is also important for teaching your baby to fall back asleep independently when they wake up in the middle of the night, which is inevitable. However, the idea of this is often much easier said than done as what new parent really wants to be the cause of their baby’s tears?!
If this problem is causing you a headache, like most parents, then this article should be really helpful.
Here are the top 4 sleep training methods for babies and an explanation of how each method works.
1) The Cry It Out Method
The Cry It Out method also referred to as the Extinction method, is performed by doing what some parents may find difficult. You put your baby to bed expecting them to sleep without comforting them or helping them when they start crying. You then let them cry until they completely fall asleep.
What this means is you need to ensure your baby goes to sleep with a full tummy and sleeps in a safe environment where you don’t need to come back for them until you see them again the next morning. Ideally, after a couple of nights, you’ll notice your baby falling asleep in as little as five minutes, and the pain and anxiety of listening to them “cry it out” won’t be as heart-breaking. This will also help you fall asleep as you know “they” say to sleep when the baby sleeps. (As a mom of 4, I’m still trying to figure out how to do this! Haha.)
2) The Ferber Method
The Ferber method, or the Check and Console method, is less extreme than the Cry It Out method but holds the same principles and techniques. This entails checking on your baby at pre-set intervals as they fall asleep. However, you should never rock them to sleep or feed them, as the whole process is about them going to sleep on their own. Go over this method after finishing your bedtime routine by putting your baby to bed, leaving the room, and waiting for a while before going in again. For example, you go into their room again after a minute and reassure the baby with a kind touch or loving words such as “I love you” before leaving them to sleep again.
Writers at https://parentingtipster.com/baby-sleep-miracle-review/ recommend avoiding picking up the baby from their crib for many reasons, including teaching them to fall asleep without help. You should then continue to check on them every 10 to 15 minutes as they fall asleep, increasing the intervals gradually. Keep in mind that this method takes days and maybe weeks to build up, and requires a great amount of patience from the parent’s side.
3) The Pickup, Put Down, and Shush-Pat Method
The Pickup, Put Down, Shush-Pat Method is pretty much exactly as it sounds. You stand over your baby’s crib, pat their shoulders and tummy, shush them, or apply pressure to reassure them while they fall asleep.
You can also try letting them play around for a while to drain their energy. However, once you feel like they’re getting too hyper, you should pick them up to calm them down before putting them back to their crib. Your job is to only soothe them as they relax and go to sleep. As they grow older than six months, your presence in the room may not be as helpful and you may only end up aggravating your baby more and disrupting their sleep.
4) The Chair Method
The chair method is a very gradual sleep training method that requires a lot of discipline and patience from the parents’ side. Some parents even spend up to 2 weeks working on this method until they finally teach their newborn to fall asleep independently. This works by putting your baby in their crib so that they can sleep, and sitting in a nearby chair.
You just sit there until your baby completely falls asleep; once this happens, you can leave the room but you have to get back to the chair every time your baby wakes up in the middle of their sleep. You then gradually move the chair further from their crib every day until you’re completely out of the room. Over a week and a half, your baby will start adapting to sleeping on their own without you being there.
Teaching your baby to go to sleep without your consistent help can be difficult. Not all babies are the same and the methods that work with other babies do not necessarily have to be effective with yours. Personally, I have found that nursing my babies on demand and having them sleep in my room has been the most effective early on, and, over time, when they have gotten older, they have learned to console themselves and fall asleep more easily on their own.