You’ve reached the stage where sleep deprivation is making you delirious, and you’re game, if not ready now to sleep train. The question is then: how to go about it?
In today’s post, I’ll cover some of the more common methods used for sleep training. All of which I have personally used (save for the last), and all of which achieve the same objective: which is to instill in your child the confidence that they can go to sleep independently.
A brief word before you even start. You’re totally allowed to take charge of your child’s sleep training experience. But just be aware of one downside to DIY-ing, which is that you might need to trial and error a little to see which of these methods works best for your child.
Or, you could cut to the chase and speak with one of our sleep experts to get their guidance and save yourself the hassle and grief of piecing things together.
Method 1: Camping out / Chair Method
Camping out means you start by staying next to your child's cot to reassure him/her as he/she adjusts to falling asleep unassisted. With camping out, you are allowed to use a soft touch to reassure your child as he/she works through the struggle of falling asleep.
Over the course of 1-2 weeks, you would slowly withdraw your intervention and presence from your child’s room. By being present in the room over a period of time, parents can be assured that attachment won’t be undermined.
A camping-out protocol could look like this:
Sitting by your child’s bed and touching at x min intervals (Days 1-3)
Sitting by your child’s bed and touching at x+y min intervals (Days 4-6)
Sitting midway between your child’s bed and doorway and touching at x+y+z min intervals (Days 7-9)
Sitting at the doorway of the room where your child can still see you but you do not touch (Days 10-12)
Method 2: Ferber Method
This sleep training method is grounded on the concept of predetermined intervals to check in on your child whenever he/she cries. The intervals can stay consistent (10min, 10min, 10min), or increase with every time that you exit from the room (5min, 10min, 15min).
Once you place your child in the cot, unlike the camping out method, you leave the room with confidence. You will only come back into the room at regular intervals to check on your child, during which you are allowed to interact with your child to soothe him/her.
Method 3: Pickup-Putdown Method
This method, as the name implies, involves putting your child in the cot until such time he/she fusses and then picking him/her back up until he/she is calm. You then repeat this process over and over until your baby is settled and asleep.
I personally find this method works best with infants in the newborn stages. It tends to not work so well once your baby is past the 4th trimester.
Method 4: Excuse Me Drill
This sleep training method makes use of positive reinforcement to deal with bedtime reluctance. It's mostly for kids who have their own beds, have anxieties relating to sleep, and are used to their parents accompanying them until they are asleep.
Parents would generally when the child is awake, excuse themselves from the room for a period of time- starting with a short amount of time and then gradually extending it. When returning to the room parents would then praise the child for staying in the bed. Over time the frequency of checks would then dwindle.
As a result of its slow pace, patience is required. If you decide to use this technique to educate your child to sleep in peace, you need to prepare to devote at least a few weeks to the process.
Method 5: Cry-It-Out (Unmodified extinction)
In this sleep-training method, you put your child to bed at the prescribed time, close the door, and let them figure things out on their own. Compared to the graduated extinction method aka Ferber method, there is no parental intervention whatsoever. It might be viewed by some as harsh, but results are generally quick, provided parents are prepared to stomach the approach.
In closing, I want to remind parents again that sleep training takes time. Babies often need several nights of practice before they can sleep through the night. Progress is usually not linear. But as long as you are consistent with the sleep training methods, you will eventually succeed.
If you’ve tried any of the above techniques and are still facing struggles, don't be shy about reaching out to speak to one of our sleep experts to see how we can help.