Sleep Training Methods Explained
What does baby sleep training mean?
Baby sleep training methods, also known as sleep training methods and baby sleep methods, are various techniques that parents and caregivers can use that help their baby sleep through the night with little to no help from them. That means that through different sleep training methods, a baby can learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own, even when they wake in the middle of the night. Many parents question what the best sleep training method is, but every family is different. With some practice and patience, you’ll find a sleep training method that works for you.
What are the different types of sleep training methods?
See below for more information on different sleep training techniques:
The ‘Ferber’ Method
The Ferber method was designed by Dr. Richard Ferber. His 1985 book, “Solve Your Child’s Problems” promoted the idea that parents allow their child to cry themselves to sleep so that they learn to self-soothe and eventually fall asleep on their own. The idea of “Ferberizing” your baby is to check on them at timed intervals that get longer and longer over the course of a few nights until baby learns to sleep on his own.
The Ferber method instructs that there should be no soothing, no comforting, no anything from you as baby eventually cries himself to sleep. While that may sound harsh, this method of sleep training tends to be much harder on parents than it is for baby. If that’s the case, and the sound of your little one crying is too much to take, there are several sleep training methods available, with some taking a gentler approach than others.
The ‘Camping Out’ Method
Considered one of the more gentle sleep training methods, “camping out” can start as early as 6 months but can also be used for a 1 year old into toddlerhood. The idea with camping out is that you literally “camp out” next to your child’s sleep space to offer reassurance as they learn to settle on their own.
Unlike some other methods of sleep training, camp it out involves gentle touch or “patting” baby off to sleep rather than picking up and soothing. Similar to the chair method of sleep training, camping out is more about your physical presence than your physical touch.
The ‘Fading’ Method
This approach encourages that you stick to your nighttime routine and then fade out the part of the routine where you rock or feed your baby, gradually, over a few days. This encourages the idea that baby will fall asleep independently. It also involves what is called “timed check-ins.” That means you get baby ready for sleep, leave the room and come back in short intervals – typically no more than 5 minutes – to offer any reassurance your baby may need.
The ‘Cry It Out’ Method
A version of the Ferber method, the cry it out method is a sleep training technique that involves consistency in his nighttime routine, putting him in his crib before he becomes overtired (this could involve rubbing her eyes, fussiness, ear pulling) and letting him cry it out until he falls asleep. This means no soothing, no comforting, no anything from you as he likely cries himself to sleep.
The ‘Chair’ Method
The chair method for baby sleep training helps your infant feel safe and secure because even though you’re not holding him, he knows that you are close by… in a chair… or on the floor… or couch… reassuring him with your presence and occasional touch as needed. It’s also known as the “pick up / put down” method because you are sitting close enough to pick up your baby to comfort him, and then put (him) down for sleep.
This kind of close but limited contact is the essence of the chair method. Baby learns that you are close by to offer comfort, but also that he can get to sleep on his own. The entire process will take a couple of weeks as every few days you will move your “chair” farther and farther away from baby’s sleep space, until you are finally out of the room, and baby is blissfully sound asleep.
What should you know before starting a new sleep training method?
When it comes to baby, some milestones may seem easier than others. Some parents have no problem with getting their little one to sleep, while for others, it’s a constant battle at every stage. Try not to compare one phase to another, or even, one of your children to another. Each baby is different and reaches milestones, like sleeping through the night, in their own time.
Keep in mind that sleep training can be challenging to say the least. So if possible, try to take some time every day, even a few minutes, to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and spend some “me” time. It’s likely that the better you feel, the more patience you’ll have in caring for your little one… and that can make the time spent with baby less stressful.
Will a weighted sleep sack help with sleep training?
The Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack can easily be a part of baby’s sleep routine. In fact, when used as part of your baby’s sleep cues, baby will understand that playtime is over and it’s time to get some sleep. The Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack helps baby feel secure and “held” - like a hug - which can also help calm a fussy baby and help him fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Sleep sacks also eliminate the need for anything extra in baby’s crib. No blankets, no toys, just baby in his crib, bassinet or co-sleeper, in nothing but his wearable blanket - which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is the safest way for baby to sleep.
Keep in mind, weighted sleep sacks are considered safe as long as the weight of the sleep sack is no more than 10% of your baby’s body weight. So a 10-pound baby should wear a sleep sack weighing no more than one pound. A 20- pound baby should wear a sleep sack no more than 2 pounds, and so on. As your child grows older, there is some wiggle room by about a pound or two, so always read the manufacturer’s instructions, and when in doubt about anything baby related, consult with your pediatrician.