Over the next couple of days I will be posting about different types of sleep training. In doing research for this series, I found an article that I found very interesting. It’s a recent article from the Journal of Pediatrics 2018 entitled “ Real World Implementation of Infant Behavioral Sleep Interventions: Results of a Parental Survey”. The study’s authors recruited over 600 parents through a Facebook group to answer questions about sleep training. They found that the average age of implementing sleep training was 5.6 months. The most common methods of sleep training used were extinction/Cry it out or gradual extinction/Ferber. 49.5% of parents used gradual extinction and 34.9% used cry it out. Only 15.6% used a method like the chair method or Pick up/Put down (I will be posting about these methods in future posts- keep an eye out and turn on doctormom_MD post notifications).
Parents had a high level of stress on the first night of sleep training but had much less stress by 1 week regardless of the method they used. Parents were successful with their sleep training on their first attempt in 83% of the respondents. The median and mode of days of completion of sleep training was 7 days. Parents who participated in a sleep training method stated that their infants had fewer night awakenings, had less difficulty falling asleep and were more likely to sleep in their own room, in their own bed.
With all this being said, there have been studies to show that sleep training improves sleep and decreases maternal depression and has no effect on attachment, chronic level of cortisol (stress hormone), or any emotional or behavioural changes in sleep trained children (check my “sleep training” article on doctormomMD.com).
- Ferber method or the check and console method:
there are many names for this method but in essence you go through a bedtime routine and then you leave your babies to fall asleep on their own. Then you wait a certain amount of time (ex. 1 min, 5 min…) until you go in again. When you go back in, the goal is to not pick your child up or give them the pacifier- it is to talk to them and reassure them that they are safe and okay. You then leave again and you may stick with the same amount of time or you may lengthen the amount of time you wait. This type of sleep training may take a week, so it is recommended you keep a log to see the progress your little one is making.
This is the method that we are doing. We actually started with a longer period of 12 minutes, which I have to say is hard but less hard when you are busy putting your toddler to sleep at the same time. At the 12 minute mark, I have been going in to console my LO with “Shush’s” and “Don’t worry you are safe, mommy is here”, singing lullabies or reciting Goodnight Moon (reciting because after reading it so many times it is etched in mine and my toddler’s head). Day 1, she cried for 12 minutes and then I went in. After I left, she cried for another 2 minutes and then she fell asleep. Day 2, she cried intermittently for the first 12 minutes and then I went in and by the time I was walking out of the door she was asleep already. Day 3, she cried intermittently for 12 minutes and then I went it and she cried again intermittently and then fell asleep. By Day 4, she fell asleep after 3-4 minutes. And currently on Day 5 she cried for less than a minute and fell asleep. It so happened that she also is sleeping better at night, and had a full 12 hour sleep last night! I had been noticing that she only “eats” for a few minutes on one side during any night feed, so I feel comfortable that she is okay sleeping through the night and her growth has been normal so I am not worried from a nutrition stand point.
- Extinction or Cry it out:
This method starts with a bedtime routine, but then you say goodnight and shut the door and wait. You are trying to not give into the crying, to teach your baby that they will not receive the “reward” of having mommy or daddy come in if they cry and they need to learn self soothe. This one has been touted to work in 3-4 days, which is probably the fastest way to sleep train, but some parents can’t stand the prolonged episodes of crying. Whether you go back in for a nighttime feed or whether you go back in after midnight there is a lot of disagreement with sleep specialists, but I think the main tip would be to be consistent if you can for a few nights to see if it is working.
- The 12×12 method described by Daniella Greenspan. The sleep training method “12 by 12” is Suzy Giordano’s method to have babies sleeping or in their cribs alone for 12 hours by the time they are 12 weeks old.
Sounds crazy right?! I thought so too. But 6.5 years ago I decided to give it a try and it changed my life. I’ve done a slightly modified version successfully with 3 kids and have helped many people follow it successfully as well!
The method essentially moves feeding from being something that happens over 24 hours to only 12 hours. It starts with a day schedule of 4 feeds every 4 hours, for example: 7 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm. Once that is set, the night feeds (any feed between 7 pm – 7 am) are slowly eliminated by gradually decreasing each feed by .5 ounces every 3 nights. As the night feeds are decreased, the day feeds increase to make up for the eliminated ounces. In basic terms, they eat enough in the 12 day hours, that they then don’t need to eat at night.
The second part to the method is that from a very young age, babies learn to fall asleep on their own and learn to hang out happily when they wake up. This part, which is all they ever really know because you start so young, is a skill they will continue to use as their hours of sleep change. Even if they don’t sleep the full 12 hours, they know how to be alone in their crib for the full time and don’t need an adult running in the second they wake up.
12 by 12 gave me predictable days and full nights sleep for years, and I’m so grateful for Suzy’s book – 12 hours sleep by 12 weeks old. As I said, I do modify the method slightly. I add a cat nap between the 3rd and 4th feedings which the book advises against (you can read more about the modifications on my blog)
My account @thebabyconcierge came from my blog tobabyconcierge.com. It’s a mashup of sleep training, BLW, fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, babies and parenting advice and experiences that are hopefully relatable. My “DMs” are always open for anyone to ask any question. If I can help, it’s my greatest pleasure.
- Chair Sleep Training Method:
This is a pic of my daughter sleeping tonight. We are so happy to have so many more hours of uninterrupted sleep and a happy baby during the day who is well rested. This sleep training method I have never tried, have you?
You put your child down after bedtime routine and instead of leaving the room you sit down in a chair next to the crib until they fall asleep. Then if they wake up you go back in and sit in the chair with them until they fall asleep again. Every few nights you move the chair further and further away from the bed until it is out of the room. This method may not be right for everyone as you need to sit and watch your baby cry and not pick him/her up and your child may be too stimulated to sleep with you in the room, so you’ll have to see if this is something that works for you and your child.
Some of you have used this one before according to my story polls and questions- how long did it take for your little one to be trained with this method?
- Pick up, Put down Method or the Baby Whisperer Method:
This is the gentlest sleep training method I know of. It seems a lot of you have used this one as well!
Here you put your child down after their bedtime routine, but you stay in the room if they are fussing. Then you stop and listen to see if they are just fussing of if they are getting worked up and need calming down. If they need calming down, pick your baby up. Once they have calmed down, put your baby back down awake. And try again. And repeat until they are asleep.
This is best for younger babies, as your presence in the room may be too stimulating for older babies.
What do you think of this method? Did you use this method, if so, how long did it take you to succeed?
Thank you @babysbestsleep Amanda Jewson for the amazing tip to end our sleep training series:
After 5 years of parenting, 2 children and years of helping families sleep I can tell you the magic word that will help your baby sleep.
Are you ready?
I know–you thought it was going to be fancier than that right? Not fair. But that’s the long and short of it.
Whatever you’ve discovered on the site this week, whatever way of helping your child learn to sleep, or whatever methodology you choose, consistency is magic in all cases. Every time your child falls asleep the conditions should be relatively the same to reduce the amount of protest and speed up your results (because who are we kidding there’s usually some tears involved in just about any methodology and we want to reduce that part ASAP, right?).
Consistency and sameness is the absolute key is all of this and usually my first go-to if there are problems in the process. I start with a checklist with my clients about what every sleep situation looks like–are they the same? Is there any help to sleep? Accidental help to sleep? If so, that could be creating your longer-term problems.
Keep it simple! For you and for the baby! The easier and more similar each sleep situation is, the quicker your baby will catch on–and STAY sleeping for the long term.
Best of luck!