Many parents do not look forward to the prospect of sleep-training their infant since they’ve heard a variety of horror stories from their friends or have gone through the experience with another child. However, keep in mind that families have different tolerance levels and a technique that works for one family might not work for another. It might not even work for a second or third child in the same family. If the sleep strategies you heard from a friend or that you’ve used in the past aren’t working for you, try a different one! Below are three popular methods that many parents have tried and swear by.
The Ferber/Check-and-Console Method
The Ferber method, or Ferberization, is a technique invented by Dr. Richard Ferber. It is commonly known as a variation of the “extinction” sleep method, where the baby is left to cry him or herself to sleep without the parents interjecting. Ferberization is considered “partial extinction” because the parents periodically check on the crying child rather than leaving him or her alone for the entire night to cry it out.
The Ferber Method should only be tried with infants over the age of six-months, and parents should not attempt it if the baby is ill, teething, or has been diagnosed with a mental disorder. When caregivers begin practicing this technique, they should prepare for several nights of disappointments, as not every infant takes to it fairly quickly. Below are the steps to follow if you plan on following this method.
- Step 1: Put the infant in the crib when he or she is drowsy, but not yet asleep.
- Step 2: Say goodnight and leave the room.
- Step 3: If the child cries out, wait a moment or two prior to entering the room to calm the baby. Do not pick him or her up, and do not turn on the lights. Limit your time to a minute.
- Step 4: When the infant cries again, do not go right away, but wait for some time. The waiting time plays a crucial aspect in the technique because it needs to be consistent. Maintain a schedule to keep things easier for you and your partner. Consistency is integral to this method.
- Step 5: Follow the same routine for the rest of the night. After the first week has been completed, you can increase the waiting time by five minutes per visit until your child is sleeping through the night.
There are numerous benefits to utilizing this method with your son or daughter. For instance, after a week of using this sleep method, babies have a tendency of falling asleep within 15 minutes of being placed in the crib. Parents that practice the “cry it out” technique exhibit less stress because they do not have to wake up multiple times during the night.
On the other hand, researchers argue that it could dent the positive relationship between the infant and parent because when the baby is seeking comfort from the parent, the parent is unavailable. This can prolong his or her feeling of stress. This technique is difficult to practice with a second child because the crying will wake up the older child if they are sharing a room.
The Co-Sleeping Method
A common misconception about the co-sleeping method is that the child must share the same bed as his or her parents in order for it to work. That is not true, and this technique can be interpreted in a variety of different ways. For one, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that an infant be in close proximity to his or her parents until the age of 6-months, but by sleeping in their own bassinet or crib while parents sleep nearby. This helps to ward off the risks of Sudden Infant Syndrome, or SIDS. A different variation of this method is to have the infant sleep by the parents’ side via a sidecar arrangement. This alignment means that three sides of the baby’s crib are left in place, but the side next to where the mother is sleeping is lowered or removed so that she can have easy access to the child. Lastly, some parents have the newborn sleep in the same bed with them, but that is frequently discouraged by the AAP.
For the approach to work effectively, both parents must be on board with it. Additionally, the child should be placed on its’ back closest to mom’s side. If you plan on practicing this system, make sure that the bed is as low as you can manage it, possess a firm mattress, and make sure that the sheet fits well on all corners. Bunched up sheets can be a choking or suffocation hazard. Some parents even pull their bed away from the wall to eliminate the chance for the baby to become wedged between the bed and the wall. Guardians that are heavy sleepers or excessively sleep deprived should avoid co-sleeping.
The No Tears Method
Various experts believe that any form of the “cry it out” approach is too harsh and favor a kinder, gentler approach such as the no-tears method. During no-cry sleep training, parents stay in the room at the start of sleep time, whether it’s nap or bed time, and continue to linger after any night wake-ups. Because of the parent’s attention to his or her child’s tears, this technique moves at a slower pace compared to the others. However, there are certain adjustments caregivers can do to make the process as simple as possible.
As with many things, it’s important that your child adhere to a routine because it gives them a sense of security to their days. Make sure that your child is going down for a nap or for bedtime at a consistent time every day. Not only should the timing be the same, but you should prepare your child for sleep roughly the same way every time. Implement a series of steady activities such as baths, books and lullabies to help rock your child to a gentle sleep. If you find that the schedule isn’t working for your son or daughter, adjust their nap or bedtime as needed. An additional tweak can be the number and timing of feedings.
Contact the Nanny Authority Today!
If there is a particular method that is working for your child, continue with it. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to sleep-train your child! Ultimately, it comes down to your individual family’s needs and your baby’s unique temperament. Our caregivers have knowledge of all of the above sleep-training techniques, and can work in tandem with the parents to find a method that best suits your family’s needs and style. For more information on how the Nanny Authority can be of assistance with sleep-training, contact us at 973-466-2669 or via e-mail today!