Ever thought about sleep training your baby? These popular sleep training methods for babies might help you sleep better at night.
Your baby’s sleep routine is probably one of the tiring things about being a mom. It is only natural that your little one needs to be rocked to sleep, and sometimes wake up in the middle of the night needing to be breastfed before dozing off again. However, if your baby is at least four months old, then it must be time for you to do sleep training.
What is sleep training?
Some people believe that sleep training sounds harsh because sometimes it involves closing the nursery door while the baby cries until it falls asleep. Please understand that it does not necessarily have to be like that. There are more gentle ways how to do sleep training.
Sleep training is simply teaching your baby to fall asleep without your help. Basically, you put down your baby for bed still awake but drowsy, and drifts off to sleep without the need to be rocked, cuddled, or nursed. This is beneficial because it also allows your baby to develop the ability to fall back to sleep after waking up at midnight due to any given reason.
When do you start sleep training? When do you apply these sleep training methods for babies?
It is highly recommended for babies to be sleep-trained when they are 4 to 6 months old. At this stage, babies are old enough to make it for 6-8 hours overnight without the need to eat, but too young to associate the comfort you give with sleep.
Sleep training methods
#1: Cry It Out
This method, also known as the “extinction” is probably a harsh method for some because it involves putting down your baby to bed and allowing him to cry until he falls asleep. This method requires you not to go back into his room for the rest of the night, or until he needs to eat. Just make sure to put your baby in a safe environment and with a full tummy.
#2: Ferber Method
If you cannot bear the idea of just leaving your baby crying in the dark all night and prefer to check him from time to time, then that’s exactly what Ferber method is all about. Otherwise known as “graduated extinction” or “check-and-console”, this method involves letting your baby cry for a certain period and then check on him. The time intervals should get longer until your baby falls asleep.
#3: Chair Method
If you are more comfortable watching over your baby fall asleep, then the Chair method is for you. There is no baby crying or leaving your baby in the dark involved in this method. Instead, you place a chair next to your baby’s bed and sit there until he falls asleep. Make sure that you won’t pick him up until he dozes off. Move your chair farther from the bed each night until you are near the door and eventually out of the room.
#4: Bedtime Fading Method
This one involves observing your baby’s sleep cues to establish a better sleep pattern for him. If your baby cries for extended periods of time before falling asleep, then his body might not be ready to sleep at your desired time. To change this, here are a few steps you can try:
- Observe your baby’s sleep cues (e.g. yawning, eyes rubbing, fussiness, etc.).
- Once your baby appears to be tired, put him to bed. She might sleep fast after this, otherwise, take her off the bed for a certain period of time (e.g. 30 minutes) and try agan.
- Do this for a few nights, moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier each evening and repeat the process.
#5: Pick Up, Put Down Method
This method can take a long time and requires a huge amount of patience from your end. Pick Up, Put Down method requires you to basically follow your baby’s sleep routine—putting him down to bed awake but drowsy. He might fall asleep fast after but if he cries, here’s what you can do:
- Give him a few minutes to settle herself down and wait until she eventually falls asleep.
- If he still cries then pick him up and soothe him, and when he finally calms down that’s when you put him back to bed.
Remember that is totally okay to consult with your baby’s doctor especially if you need guidance on how and when to start sleep training. You can ask which method is best to try first or if the method that was recommended to you didn’t work.
At first, sleep training might involve a few tears from both of you and your baby. It isn’t easy to establish a routine with your little one, as he is still undergoing a lot of developments in all aspects. However, with time and consistency from your end, you will reach the point when you can finally enjoy a peaceful sleep as your baby has acquired the knack of falling asleep and staying asleep on his own.
An alternative to sleep training is giving your baby a pacifier.