What is Sleep Training and How is It Done?

Welcome to parenthood!

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

Almost all babies cry at night because they’re hungry, so you have to wake up too and feed them. They won’t probably sleep through the night until they’re three months old. Other reasons for their fussing could be discomfort caused by gas, an allergy, or other discomforts and sickness like an ear infection. However, after ensuring that your baby is fine and still cries at night, you probably need to start a baby sleep training

What is Sleep Training? 

Sleep training teaches your baby 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. However, keep in mind that night weaning and sleep training do not necessarily go together. You can still feed your babies once or twice during the night, depending on their age and stage. Discuss with your pediatrician 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, including Little Z’s. Depending on their certification and styles, the processes vary. For example, you can purchase sleep training newborn videos online, printables and eBooks, or consultations through video chats and personal emails. In fact, some sleep trainers do in-home consultations wherein they visit your homes to assess your baby’s personality and identify potential issues, like jaundice.

There’s no specific age to work with a consultant, but the earlier you start, the better. At Little Z’s, they have an online baby sleep consultant, training, and courses that teach you how to train your babies to fall asleep within 10 minutes independently. 

Methods of Sleep Training

1. Cry It Out (CIO) or Extinction

It’s a sleep training technique wherein you put your baby in their crib, allowing them to cry until they fall asleep without your help. It means you will not feed to sleep, rock to sleep, or do anything to help them to drift off. Though it varies from baby to baby, you can let them cry it out for 45 minutes to one hour. Keep in mind that it’s always safe to put down your baby in their crib, rather than the swing or stroller.

2. Check and Console or Ferber Method

Though there are many variations of this method, its general principle is to continue checking on your baby at preset intervals but never rocking or feeding them to sleep. For instance, put your baby in the crib, leave the room and wait a specific amount of time, like 2 minutes, to go inside their room. Then, give them a rub or pat, or tell them you love them, without picking them up. This method is usually recommended for older babies at seven months and older because younger babies need a parental presence, so they won’t feel they are abandoned.

3. Chair Method

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

4. Bedtime-routine Fading

Though many parents find this routine hard to sustain, it’s a great way to minimize crying. With this technique, you can do whatever style you are doing to help your baby fall asleep, like rocking or feeding, decreasing the amount of time until you don’t have to do it at all.

5. Bedtime-hour Fading

This is different from bedtime-routine fading, wherein this involves putting your baby into their crib when they usually sleep. Make this their new bedtime for a couple of nights, then gradually move it to an earlier time. To find out when your baby naturally sleeps, observe them for a few nights and keep a diary to track. For example, if your baby usually sleeps from 7:50-8:00 pm, put them in their crib 15 minutes earlier after a few nights until they have shifted from their old habits to your desired sleeping time.

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

This may work for babies younger than seven months. You can stay in the room without giving them too much help to sleep. For instance, you can stand over their crib, shush them, or pat their tummy to calm them. You can also let them cry for a while but when they start to escalate, pick them up just to reassure them and then put them back down before they fall asleep.