Its time! You have decided to teach your child how to fall asleep independently and to stay that way but there are many different Sleep Training Methods circulating the internet!
What do you do now? Where should you begin?
You’ve read the books and spent hours on the Internet researching the different sleep training methods available. If you are like many parents I talk to all this research has just prompted more questions and uncertainty.
How do you know which of the sleep training methods could work for your unique family?
Here is a brief rundown of the sleep training methods available to you:
- CRY IT OUT/EXTINCTION
You get your child ready for bed, work your way through a relaxing bedtime routine, put them down in their sleep space awake and leave. You do not go back until it is time for them to feed or its morning, which ever comes first.
Most of us have heard of Cry It Out while researching the available sleep training methods either from well meaning grand parents, friends, the internet or from our doctor or pediatrician. This method is not for the faint hearted. It can work for some children but you need nerves of steel as you will need to listen to your child cry until they fall asleep!
- TIME CHECKS/GRADUATED EXTINCTION
Many people will hear this method referred to as the Ferber Method. It is similar to Cry It Out but instead of leaving the child until they fall asleep you go in at a predetermined intervals to check in on them and provide brief reassurance then leave until the next Time Check. This method can work well for children who find their parents permanent presence in the room during training too stimulating or when a parent has to deal with more than one child at a time.
- FADING TECHNIQUES
These techniques require the parent to start coaching right next to the crib while providing intermittent reassurance verbally and/or physically if the child is upset. The parent gradually withdraws or fades out as the child learns their new independent sleep skill.
Yes, it’s okay to decide to do nothing and wait and see if your child’s sleep improves organically over time.
If what you are doing right now is working and you and your child are both happy then there is no problem!
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING BETWEEN SLEEP TRAINING METHODS
Your Child’s Age
Studies do not support sleep-training babies under 6 months of age. However it is possible to work on sleep hygiene for young babies and some Gentle Sleep Shaping for children in the 4 1/2 – 6 month range.
Older children will often display more signs of separation anxiety if they are used to falling asleep with a parent. In these cases a fading technique can be more successful as it will continue to support the secure attachment you have with your child and reduce the amount of anxiety your child experiences.
Your Child’s Temperament
Your child’s personality will also play a key role when deciding on your sleep technique. If your child is generally easy going you may see improvements with any method if you remain consistent. Very Alert children struggle more with their sleep and are easily over stimulated so your Sleep Plan needs to reflect this.
Your Parenting Philosophy
When choosing between Sleep Training Methods it is important to find something that fits in with your family dynamic and beliefs. If you don’t believe in the method you wont be consistent with your approach. Patience and Consistency are the keys to success. So do your research and move ahead with an approach that feels right for you and your child.