What are the best sleep training methods for babies?
A defining moment for any caretaker or parent raising a child is that period during which it’s hard to get any consistent sleep. Because your baby is constantly waking you, your nights are filled with continually getting up and having to check on them to make sure everything is fine.
For many people, this is typically a defining moment in a stressful way. Though you are able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with your child and understand what it truly means to love your baby, it can also be very inconvenient and overbearing, especially when you are trying to get enough sleep and stay on top of all of your responsibilities.
This is why many people resort to sleep training methods to use with their children. Sleep training methods are essentially anything that can be used to show your baby good sleep habits, encouraging them to maintain healthy patterns as opposed to waking up intermittently throughout the night and day.
As you can imagine, there are many different approaches to sleep training that each method will assert that it is the best one available. This couldn’t be further from the truth—there are actually a wide variety of different methods possible, making sleep training a very nuanced activity to do.
However, there are some common methods you can look into to help your baby sleep better at night. To help you in your decision making process, we’ve made a list of 6 sleep training methods that are definitely worth trying.
BEFORE WE BEGIN, IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE INCORPORATING A SLEEP TRAINING CYCLE INTO YOUR ROUTINE. This is because all babies are different and might react differently to various sleep training methods. While these sleep training methods are helpful, you should have a doctor’s permission before introducing them to your baby’s routine.
#1. The Fading Technique
If you are somebody who has a baby who spends a lot of time moving around in bed before finally falling asleep, this sleep training method is helpful for gradually moving their bedtime earlier. To do this method, simply put them to bed at the time you normally do for a few nights. Once you’ve done that for four or five nights, move the interval to 15 minutes earlier and do that for a few days.
Continue to bring their bedtime earlier by 15 minute intervals until you’re satisfied with the results! This is one of the more effective sleep training methods due to how direct and easy it is to use. However, it takes commitment. To make this method work correctly, you need to be incredibly precise about the time at which you put your child to bed. If you don’t put them to bed at the exact same time each night, you will ruin the effectiveness of this method.
#2. Routine Fading
This method is slightly different than the previous fading technique. Instead of making your baby’s bedtime slowly earlier and earlier, you do one of the techniques you currently do to make your baby fall asleep. For example, many caretakers or parents who have trouble getting their children to sleep end up having to rock them to sleep after a while of the baby not being able to go to sleep on their own.
For the routine fading method, you should continue doing this, but slightly lower the amount that you rock them each night. You should be very precise about this, decreasing the time you rock them in noticeable, but small intervals. For instance, if you typically rock them for 5 minutes, try lowering it by 1 minute every few days. If you have to rock them for 20 minutes, try removing 4 minutes every few days. Regardless of how long you do it for, make sure to incrementally diminish the amount that you rock them until they don’t need it anymore.
#3. Distanced Comfort
As one of the more intensive sleep training methods, this one involves being in the same room as the baby that is having trouble falling asleep, only picking them up and patting them on the back every once in a while. By doing this, you provide them with a distanced sense of comfort, allowing them to feel calmer without needing the physical reinforcement. Getting them used to more abstract ideas of comfort also opens the door to simply tucking them in and leaving the room, making it easier for them to sleep.
When do you get up and comfort them? Typically when they start fussing. This is to ensure them that you are still there when they get nervous, making them less likely to continue to fuss later on into the night. The only potential downside to this method is that you might have to be in the room for a while on a nightly basis to get the desired effects, making this one of the more intensive methods.
#4. The Chair Method
This one is a very helpful one for those who have babies that continually wake up multiple times throughout the night. All you have to do is put a chair next to the baby’s crib, sitting in it quietly until they fall asleep. When they fall asleep, get up and leave the room, but when they wake up again, come back in and sit down again. The idea is to continue doing this every night, slowly moving the chair further away from the crib until it is out of the room.
This method is useful for helping the baby get used to you not being in the room, subsequently leading them to fall asleep on their own.
#5. The Crying Method
This is one of the more emotional sleep training methods as it requires you to completely leave your child once you put them down to sleep. It’s important to note that this method has been heavily criticized over the years for being a bit harsh for the baby, though some experts also believe it’s effective. Because this method can be a bit difficult and also depends on how the baby is developing, you should ask a medical professional to make sure it’s right for your child.
#6. Interval Training
If you are a person who prefers to structure and compartmentalize, this might be the easiest method for you to employ. Interval training involves you coming in and checking in on your baby at regular intervals throughout the night. Check back every few minutes until they fall asleep and then continue doing it for nights on end, eventually decreasing the amount of intervals at which you check in until they don’t need you to be there anymore.
An interval training schedule might look like the following:
- 5 minute intervals
- 10 minute intervals
- 15 minute intervals
- 20 minute intervals
This is one of the most tried and true sleep training methods due to how regular you’re able to keep it. It’s important to note that sometimes sleep training isn’t a linear progression and those who employ this method might have to decrease the intervals again due to the baby not responding so well. This is normal and is easy to adjust with this method of sleep training!
There are many different types of sleep training methods, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that you are helping your baby adopt a healthier lifestyle. Sleep training methods are a great way to make sure that your child maintains a healthy lifestyle, encouraging their development and making sure that they continue to stay healthy!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed these sleep training methods and that you or someone you know can use them in the future to help your baby stay happy and healthy!