The Different Baby Sleep Training Methods: Which Is Right for You?

Baby Sleep Training Methods
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There are several different baby sleep training methods. What is best for you will depend on your own philosophies about parenting and your personal tolerance for your baby’s crying.

No one likes to hear their baby cry but for some it’s worth the torture, in order for their baby, themselves and anyone else in the household to get a better night’s sleep.

It also depends on your baby. For different babies, different methods will work better or worse and how long it takes to sleep train your baby will also depend on a few things. Like, the temperament of your baby, the method you are using and how consistent you are at implementing that method.

Fading sleep

The first method is the fading sleep training method. This will be a gentle method so there will be limited crying when you use this method.

Basically, the child is going to fade out when they are falling to sleep. You are going to be helping your baby to fall asleep by feeding them or rocking them. You will see that over time that you will need to do less and less when you are putting your baby to sleep.

If you normally rock your baby for a long period of time, then each time you can shorten the amount of time that you rocking them each night until the amount of time that you are rocking the baby to sleep is only going to last for a few minutes.

Of course, you to have a lot of patience for this to work but if you want to minimize the amount of crying at bedtime, this is the way to go. It is recommended for babies over 8 weeks old, so it can be used on younger babies than some of the other methods.

Pick-up/Put down

The second method is the pick up/put down method. This is also a gentle/limited tears method and it is going to work exactly like it sounds.

If it is bedtime for baby and they are crying in their crib, then you are going to pick the baby up to comfort them. You will hold the baby until they have calmed down and are getting drowsy. Then you will put the baby back to the crib for them to fall asleep. If baby starts to cry again, then you will pick them up again, and keep repeating as needed.

This is another method that is going to require you to have some patience.

It’s going to depend on your baby because it is not going to work on every baby. This is because some babies will be over stimulated by the process of being picked up and put back down.

You can try this method when the baby is over 8 weeks old.

This method is more difficult with an older/heavier baby as it can be physically tough. Especially if you’re having to lower them gently over a crib side.

Chair Sleep

The third method is the chair baby sleep training method. There are going to be more tears involved in this method but you are not going to be leaving the baby unattended at any time.

You will need to start with a normal bedtime routine and then start out sitting in a chair close to the crib. You will sit in the chair as the baby falls asleep in the crib. The goal of this method is that you are not helping the child to fall asleep or calming them down for no reason.

With this method, you will not be giving the child any attention. The only reason that you are going to be sitting in the chair is to reassure the child that you are going to be there with them and they will not be left alone.

Then every night you are going to be moving the chair farther and farther away from the crib until the chair is no longer needed for the baby to fall asleep.

If your child has a good temperament, then this should not be too difficult but this could be a completely different case depending on the child.

Controlled Crying

The fourth method is the controlled crying sleep training method. Or should I say methods as there are a couple of different ones.

These can also known as the check and console method, the ferber method or ferberizing, and the graduated extinction.

Basically, you are going to be allowing the baby to cry himself to sleep. You will be checking on the baby via set intervals.

The goal of this method is to reassure the baby that you are close to them and you will be able to know that the baby is okay. Make sure that you do not pick up the baby when you check on them.

All that you are going to be doing here to use a calming voice and give them a loving pat for somewhere between 20 seconds and 2 minutes depending on the particular method and depending on what works best for your baby.

You are not going to be helping the baby to fall asleep with this method but instead they are learning how to do it on their own.

The idea is to gradually decrease the times that you are going to be checking on the baby. E.g. on night one it might be go in after 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes etc. Then the second night, wait 3 minutes to start, then 7 minutes, then 12 minutes etc (this is just an example).

Usually it’s not recommended to use this method until baby is about 6 months old. You can try the more gentle methods before you try this method.

Personal Experience

We found that this was the only method that worked with our first (well we never tried extinction but compared to the other methods). We found that going in for a short amount of time worked best (around 20-30 seconds), where would tell him we love him and that he’s very safe and that it’s time to go to sleep now. He usually cried a little louder after going in, but almost always, after going in, he would cry louder for a shorter amount of time and then stop.

The first night was actually OK, the second night was quite bad, the 3rd night was better than the 1st and 2nd. Then the 4th night he hardly cried at all. By the 5th night he was sleeping through the night. There are always relapses over time, but we found this worked very well for us.

We waited until he was over 9 months.

Extinction Sleep

The last method is the extinction baby sleep training method. This method is going to be better know as the cry-it-out method.

This is because for the first few nights of doing this method, there is going to be a lot of crying involved. But overall there is going to be less crying in the long run.

It is very simple to do. You simply do your normal bedtime routine, then you put the baby to bed while they are still awake, and then leave the room without coming in to check on the baby at all.

If you hear that the baby is crying, you should not check on them, instead you need to let them cry themselves to sleep. The idea is that, if you go in to rescue the baby every time that they cry, then they are going to come to expect you to do it all of the time.

This method gets a lot of criticism and even exponents of controlled crying aren’t fans of this one.

Most of the time, this method is not going to be recommended at any age, but you will need to make sure that your baby is at least 6 months old before you even try this type of method.

Final Thoughts

There are several different Baby Sleep Training Methods. Which one works best for you, will depend on:

  1. Your baby’s temperament
  2. Your own temperament
  3. Your tolerance for hearing your baby cry
  4. Your tolerance for how long it takes
  5. How willing you are to be consistent with your chosen method

Some babies will also just naturally go to bed easily and teach themselves to sleep through the night all on their own with little to no intervention from you. We haven’t had the luxury of one of those types of babies, but if you have one, then count yourself lucky!

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