Ah, sleep – the one thing all new parents covet about after bringing home baby. Some seasoned parents may warn you that you won’t be getting sleep for a long, long time, but we’d like to debunk that notion that sleep is a far away dream for new parents. It can be a part of your life with a little bit of discipline, planning, and maybe even a few little tears. But, if you commit to sleep training, soon those sleepless nights will be a distant memory, your baby will sleep through the night, and you and your sweetie will have evenings together again to rest and rejuvenate. Bring on the zzzzzz’s!
Why Sleep Train?
Sleep training helps your baby learn the skill of soothing her or himself to sleep, or back to sleep after waking during the night or during a nap. Experts agree that once a baby is 4 months and 14 pounds, they are ready to learn the techniques that can help them to fall asleep on their own (no more endless rocking, bouncing on a ball, driving around or any other method you’ve been using!).
Baby May Be Ready to Sleep Train… but Are You?!
Let’s face it – sleep training is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be ready to face some tears and protests (yours and baby’s). Sleep training, or sleep work, usually includes letting your baby “cry it out.” For all you softhearted moms and dads, this can be the real challenge. No one wants to hear their sweet little one crying, so we’re not going to lie to you – it can be tough. But helping your baby sleep is like offering them proper sleep nutrition – just as offer the best food nutrition to your child to help him grow, sleep training will get your baby on the right track to getting enough sleep to aid in their development. Remember, babies need a lot of sleep! Between 4-6 months, they should be getting up to 14-16 hours of sleep (between naps and nighttime sleep) within a 24-hour period. So which method is right for you? Read on…
The Ferber Method – Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
The Ferber Method is the father of the “cry it out method” created by Dr. Richard Ferber, a sometimes controversial expert on sleep training. As a director for the Center of Pediatric Sleep disorders, he created a method where parents put their child in his bed awake and then leave him gradually for longer periods of time. When baby cries, he recommends that parents pat their baby, but don’t pick him up – a “progressive waiting” approach where each time you check in with your baby, you spend less and less time your child’s room.
The Sleepeasy Solution
Created by sleep experts (and celebrity parent faves) Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, this sleep training method believes in helping parents learn how to offer support to their children as they are learning to sleep. They are proponents for creating a regular bedtime and naptime routine; getting baby attached to a “lovey” for soothing purposes; and putting baby to sleep awake. They also offer detailed information on how to easily and successfully wean baby from those nighttime feedings. When baby is crying after going to sleep, they encourage parents to “check-in” at different intervals (5 minutes, then 10, and then every 15 minutes until baby falls asleep) where the parent gently talks to baby, but does not touch or pick up baby.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Created by pediatrician Dr. Marc Weissbluth, this book has more of a research-based approach where parents can learn the causes of their baby’s sleep issues. He even encourages ways that you can start some gentle sleep training almost from the get-go. He is a believer in following your baby’s circadian rhythms by helping her fall asleep before that window of opportunity closes and baby becomes overtired. He also believes in the “extinction method”, meaning: follow the guidelines, put your baby to sleep at the right times and ignore the crying (only for babies 6 months and older).
The No-Cry Sleep Solution
If you’re looking for a method that helps your child sleep with fewer tears involved, consider this method created by Elizabeth Pantley. This method is for the parent that just can’t stand the sound of their baby crying, however the process is usually much slower than the other methods, taking between 10-60 days before progress is made (the other methods can work within a week).
What’s Right for You?
Ultimately, if you’re interested in sleep training, do your homework and discover the method that feels right for you and your family. For detailed information about these techniques, see our related links below for where you can purchase these books… or consider hiring a sleep consultant such as Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack at Sleepy Planet if you’re really at your wit’s end and need sleep sooner than later!