There is no secret to sleep training. A simple google search will yield plenty of results with a variety of methods for you to choose from. Heck, you might have even come across this blog post from a google search! The key is picking a method that’s right for your baby AND one that you and your partner can be consistent with.
So, I’m here to spell it out for you. Pick the one you think you can be consistent with! Here are the 4 basic sleep training methods and what they each entail:
Parents complete the bedtime routine, lay their baby down in the crib awake, and leave the room, giving the baby the time and space to put themselves to sleep on their own. It’s not for everyone, but it works. It’s also the most researched method of sleep training, and research shows that it does improve a child’s sleep with no long-term effects.
These methods are usually the quickest, and you might liken it to “ripping off a band-aide” – a little sting at first, but fine shortly thereafter. For some children, this method can take a few nights, and for others, upwards of a week or two.
Despite its effectiveness, this is not my preferred approach. I typically save it as an absolute last resort unless a parent specifically requests it (and plenty do!).
Timed Intervals/Leave & Check/Ferber/Pick-Up-Put-Down
There’s a lot of variation in how this one looks, but the basic premise is this: Parents complete the bedtime routine, lay their baby down in the crib awake, and leave the room for a set amount of time. After the time is up, parents return and offer some quick comfort and support while leaving the baby in the crib, or after a certain amount of time, picking them up to offer some comfort before laying them back down. They repeat check-ins at the predetermined interval until the baby falls asleep. Intervals can vary based on the child’s age, what the parents are comfortable with, and can increase over time. These are some of the moderate methods I utilize with my clients.
If you decide on Pick-Up-Put-Down be leery of using it with babies older than 6 months, as it will likely make them more upset! This is one I often recommend dependent on the baby’s age.
These types of methods can take a few weeks to see results, but most children experience great success after just a few nights. To ensure the skills “stick”, practice this method for about 2-3 weeks with consistency.
Chair Method/Stay-in-the-Room/Sleep Lady Shuffle
Parents complete the bedtime routine and lay their baby down in the crib awake. They sit in a chair in the room, and gradually move closer to and out the door over the course of a few days or weeks, gradually releasing the responsibility of sleep to the child. This is another moderate method I utilize with my clients. It’s also my preferred approach as it allows for the parents to be present and provide comfort while the child learns to sleep independently.
I love to use variations of this method with toddlers, breastfed babies, and with children who had been previously co-sleeping, as it gradually removes the parent from the picture when it comes to sleep.
These methods can take 2-4 weeks, and often depends on the age of the child…toddlers and older children may take longer.
Solutions that present themselves as “no cry” or “gentle” can be misleading and do involve some crying because that’s the only way babies can express their discomfort of learning a new skill. Your baby is unlikely to change their habits without a little bit of protest.
A “gentle” or “no cry” method takes a lot of time and is not one I specifically use in my practice.
That being said, while I can’t tout myself as a “no cry” sleep consultant, because truly zero cry sleep training doesn’t exist (hello false advertising!), I do fall into the category of gentle sleep coaches who strive to minimize tears and maximize parental support. I always select an approach that will be as gentle as possible while still being effective in under a few weeks.
You might be wondering why, if all of these methods are readily available on the internet, I run a sleep consulting business?? How am I successful?
Well, the method isn’t the only thing that goes into helping a child sleep well. You can pick a method, be consistent with it, and still struggle with your child’s sleep! Or, maybe you know this is something you want to do, but just don’t think you can (or want) to do it on your own. Maybe you’ve tried other solutions and they’re just not working, and you need to try something else, but just don’t know what.
That’s what I’m here for!
I am a firm believer when it comes to parenting, and life, really, of the old adage, “Everything in moderation.” Sleep training methods included! I’m not on either end of the spectrum, but fall in the middle. I believe teaching your child the skill of sleep should be supported and celebrated, and as gentle as possible – yet still effective – without misleading you or misinforming you of what it actually entails.
The secret sauce is really in developing a plan that you can be successful with and having the direction and support that may be needed as you implement said methods and plan with consistency. All my clients receive a detailed intake questionnaire to help me write the BEST sleep plan for your child and your family. I pick apart the information you give me to figure out the best strategies for your baby and your parenting style. Then, as we work together, knowing when to switch things up can be the difference between experiencing success and plummeting into an area worse off than when you started. We work together to move forward with what’s best for your family, and you, the parent, is always involved in making the decisions for your child. Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at this!
We look at your child from all areas – personality, temperament, age- and developmentally appropriate schedules and strategies, what’s currently going on and considering family goals, what has already been tried, different childcare situations, scheduling nuances per family, the environment, methods, strategies, and responses for various situations that can arise as you go through this process. Phew! I’m tired just thinking about it all!
Just know that it can be an overwhelming process. It’s also one that once you start, in fairness to your child, you should not stop until you’re finished. And it doesn’t have to be something you do on your own! If you want an expert to guide you through it, give you the best plan for your child and your family, and someone to direct you, support you, and cheer you on along the way to better sleep, I know a gal 😉 Don’t hesitate to set up a call with me today. After a quick chat, you’ll know if working together is the best decision for your family.