What Exactly is Sleep Training and How to Do It?

Welcome to parenthood!

As new parents, you are now in a world where sleep is rare, gold, and valuable.

Almost all babies cry at night because they’re hungry, so you need to wake up too and feed them. However, they won’t likely sleep through the night until they’re three months old. Other reasons for their fussing could be discomfort brought on by gas, an allergy, or other distress and sickness such as an ear infection. But after ensuring that your baby is fine and still cries during the night, you will likely need to begin newborn sleep help.

What is Sleep Training?

Sleep training teaches your infant to sleep without your help, such as cuddling, nursing, rocking, or feeding. It also teaches babies to fall back to sleep when they wake up at night. But, keep in mind that night weaning and sleep training don’t always go together. You can still feed your babies once or twice during the night, depending on their age and stage. Talk to your pediatrician about when you can drop your baby’s nighttime feeds.

Long ago, we didn’t know professional sleep consultants or sleep trainers existed. Today, more and more of them are offering their services, such as Small Z’s. Based on their certification and styles, the processes vary. For example, you can buy newborn or toddler sleep training courses online, printables and eBooks, or consultations via video chats and personal emails. In fact, some sleep trainers do in-home consultations wherein they visit your homes to assess your child’s personality and identify potential problems, such as jaundice.

There’s no specific age to work with a consultant, but the earlier you start, the better. At Little Z’s, you can avail the best online baby sleep course. Check out their website to learn more about their programs.

Methods of Sleep Training

1. Cry It Out (CIO) or Extinction

This is a sleep training technique wherein you put your baby in their crib, letting them cry until they fall asleep without your help. It means you won’t feed to sleep, rock to sleep, or even do anything to help them drift off. Even though it varies from baby to baby, you let them cry it out for 45 minutes to one hour. Remember that it’s always safe to put your baby in their crib instead of the swing or stroller.

2. Check and Console or Ferber Method

Though there are many variations of this method, its general principle would be to continue checking on your child in preset intervals but never feeding or rocking them. For instance, put your baby in the crib, leave the room and wait a particular amount of time, like two minutes, to go inside their room. Then, offer them a rub or pat, or let them know you love them without picking them up. This method is usually recommended for older infants at seven months and older because younger infants require a parental presence so that they won’t feel they’re abandoned.

3. Chair Method

This is a gradual method that requires your discipline as parents. To start, prepare your baby to sleep and sit in a chair next to their crib. If they fall asleep, leave the room, and every time they wake up and cry, sit back on the chair until they go back to sleep again. Every three or four nights, move the chair farther and farther away until you are out of their room.

4. Bedtime-routine Fading

Although many parents find this routine difficult to sustain, it is a great way to minimize crying. With this technique, you can continue to do whatever style you are doing to help your infant fall asleep, such as rocking or feeding, but decreasing the amount of time until you don’t need to do it at all.

5. Bedtime-hour Fading

Don’t confuse this with bedtime-routine fading. Bedtime-hour fading involves putting your infant in their crib when they usually sleep. Make this their new bedtime for a few nights, then gradually move it to an earlier time. To know the time when your baby naturally sleeps, observe them for a couple of nights and keep a diary to track. For instance, if your baby usually sleeps between 7:50-8:00 pm, then put them in their crib 15 minutes earlier after a few nights until they’ve shifted from their old habits to your desired sleeping time.

6. Pick-up, Put Down, and Shush-Pat

This may work for infants younger than seven months but not for older ones. This method allows you to stay in the room without giving them too much assistance to sleep. For example, you could stand over their crib, shush them, or pat on their tummy to calm them. You may even let them cry for a bit but when they start to escalate, pick them up only to reassure them and then place them back down before they fall asleep.