Embarking on the parenting journey often involves the pursuit of peaceful nights. Explore this guide's top 6 baby sleep training methods for a harmonious bedtime routine.
From gentle approaches to time-tested techniques, discover the key to sweet dreams for both baby and parents.
Why start sleep training early? (4-6 months & beyond)
At this stage, they haven't fully established a reliance on methods like rocking or nursing to fall asleep. Delaying sleep training could contribute to the development of your baby fighting sleep.
Early sleep training helps establish healthier sleep habits and addresses challenges such as a baby fighting sleep, setting the foundation for more restful nights.
In today's scientific literature, the term "sleep training" is an umbrella term that refers to a spectrum of approaches to help babies learn to fall asleep by themselves.💡NPR ORG
Discover the 6 most popular sleep training methods
1. Storybook Method
The Storybook Method combines the power of massages and storytelling to help parents establish a relaxing bedtime routine. By integrating gentle massages during storytime, this method aims to create a positive association with sleep.
Additionally, it provides affirmations, meditation, or white noise options for children. This is a Parent-Led App, meaning it is for direct use by parents, not the child.
How it works
The Storybook App simplifies the implementation of the bedtime routine by employing a visual and practical approach. With a focus on images rather than words, the app presents boxes and options for each step of your child's routine, such as relaxing massages.
By selecting an option, for instance, "relaxing massages," the app will open a series of videos that visually demonstrate, with music and examples, how to perform the massages effectively.
Pros of the Storybook method
- Original stories instilling values
- Visual resources for parents
- Simple and easy to use
- Proven results
- Fosters a routine and a sacred space between parents and children.
Cons of the Storybook method
- Technological dependency
- Adaptation to individual preferences
2. The Ferber Method
Also known as check and console, is a widely used approach in baby sleep training. Avoid rocking or nursing, regularly console with reassuring words and gentle touches, and resist picking up the baby to foster gradual self-soothing without creating feelings of abandonment.
How it works
The Ferber method involves progressively extending the time between checking on a crying baby during bedtime, allowing them to learn self-soothing skills gradually.
Pros of the Ferber method
- Effective in teaching self-soothing skills
- Promotes more extended periods of sleep
Cons of the Ferber method
- Controversial, as it involves letting the baby cry
- May not suit every parenting style
3. Cry it out / Extinction
This widely recognized yet controversial method involves letting your baby cry until the morning, except for nighttime feedings. It can be challenging for parents to endure their baby's cries, and experts suggest trying it for at least a week before evaluating its effectiveness.
"Indeed, the cry-it-out approach does sound cruel to many parents. "You put your baby into their crib or their room, you close the door and you don't come back till the next day," Mindell says. "But that's not the reality of what we recommend or what parents typically do" Jodi Mindell, a psychologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 💡 NPR ORG
How it works
The Extinction method involves gradually increasing the time before comforting the baby during night waking, encouraging them to learn self-soothing.
Pros of the Extinction method
- Can lead to more extended periods of sleep
- Encourages self-soothing skills
Cons of the Extinction method
- Controversial due to letting the baby cry
- May not align with all parenting styles
4. The Chair Method
This approach entails initially placing your baby in the crib or bed and sitting in a chair nearby until they fall asleep. If they awaken during the night, return to their room and repeat the process. Gradually, move the chair progressively farther away over one to two weeks until it's completely out of the room.
How it works
The Chair Method promotes a gradual withdrawal of parental presence during sleep, encouraging the baby to self-soothe over time.
Pros of the Chair method
- Allows parents to be present during the falling asleep process
- Gradual withdrawal can be less stressful for the baby
Cons of the Chair method
- May take longer for the baby to learn self-soothing
- Requires consistent patience and commitment from parents
5. Pick-up/Put-Down Method
This method includes soothing your child by picking them up and placing them back in the crib. Let them fuss, and if fussiness escalates, comfort them. For older babies with sleep associations, bedtime-routine fading can help.
If you nursed or rocked your baby to sleep, gradually reduce these activities for a smooth transition to independent sleeping in their bed. If you need more guidance on this, you can check our article on “how to get kids to sleep in their own bed”.
How it works
The Pick-up/Put-Down Method relies on comforting the child through physical touch while gradually fostering self-soothing.
Pros of the Pick-up/Put-Down method
- Incorporates physical comfort during the sleep process
- Provides a gradual transition for older babies with sleep associations
Cons of the Pick-up/Put-Down method
- The process may require patience and persistence
- Continuous picking up and putting down can be overly stimulating for some babies
6. Bedtime-routine fading Method
This method entails gradually moving bedtime about 15 minutes earlier every few days until reaching the ideal bedtime for your child. This gradual adjustment helps your child's body adapt to the earlier sleep time, and they may naturally wake up earlier, feeling tired earlier in the day. This approach is effective for teaching your kid how to stop co-sleeping.
How it works
Bedtime-routine Fading Method relies on gradually shifting bedtime earlier, allowing the child's body to adapt to the new sleep schedule.
Pros of the Bedtime-routine fading method
- Incremental adjustment promotes a smooth transition
- Effectively guides children to stop co-sleeping
Cons of the Bedtime-routine fading method
- Requires consistent adjustments
- Effectiveness may vary depending on the child's adaptability and routine consistency
A Parent's tale on overcoming baby sleep issues
To be honest, my younger daughter, who is nearly one, was accustomed to falling asleep on her own (although when feeding) and staying in her bed and room alone until the middle of the night. However, during her 9-month sleep regression, all our progress was lost.
We have some bad bouts of teething, and she seems almost uncomfortable sleeping through the night, which causes her to move around and cry regularly. Going forward, I think we will need the Bedtime Fading Method to eliminate her association of bedtime with feeding and then implement the Ferber Method.
When establishing a bedtime routine, incorporate a soothing Storybook massage for your little one. This helps them relax and promotes increased melatonin production and better sleep quality. Experience the benefits of infant massage with Storybook today to ensure your little one gets the sleep they need. A well-rested baby means a more peaceful night for you and your child.
NPR. (2019, July 15). Sleep Training Truths: What Science Can and Can't Tell Us About 'Crying It Out'. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/15/730339536/sleep-training-truths-what-science-can-and-cant-tell-us-about-crying-it-ou