Figuring out how to get your little one to bed can be hard. One moment they’re happy as can be and the next they’re fighting with every being of their body to keep those eyes open. And like a tired adult, you might be wondering why in the world they just won’t go to sleep? Don’t fret, it’s normal. The good news? There are options for sleep training methods that are just waiting for you to explore.
If you’ve ever had a conversation about bedtime routines and sleep training with other parents then you probably have a good idea that it’s hard to get kids to bed. Period. And it actually seems to be a widespread issue of all ages as well. From young to old, kids just want to resist sleep. (how funny that changes once you become an adult, right?!)
While it may be a bit frustrating, you shouldn’t actually be losing sleep (any more than you are by staying up with your child) over worrying about it. It’s possible to train your child to sleep better with just a few simple steps.
Various Sleep Training Methods All Parents Need to Try
If you’re lacking in sleep and patience, you need to open up your mind to the help of various sleep training methods. That being said, there’s an awful lot of methods out there. And some of them have several names.
So this list, while extensive, is no means exhaustive. I try to keep it up to date with all of the current methods being used – but sometimes people give the same method various names. So if you don’t see your favorite method talked about, let me know. That way, I can get it added to the list.
To get my complete guide to behavior-based sleep training (AKA all the good kinds of sleep training), click here to head over to SleepTrainingKids.com.
When should you start sleep training?
This really all depends on what you’re comfortable with, but some people feel that the sooner you start, the better the outcome. Again, this all depends on how you feel. Some experts say that “training” your child to learn how to sleep properly can start as early as 4-6 months in age.
Does the sleep training methods work for naptimes as well?
Absolutely. Once you and your child find a way that works for getting rest, that sleep training method can be used for naptime and bedtime every single day. Just keep in mind that keeping the naptimes short-ish is important to ensure that they’ll get to bed on time later on that evening.
Allowing your toddler or younger child to sleep for an extended period of time during their nap isn’t a good idea. If they get too much rest, they’ll have a hard time getting to bed at night.
Which sleep training method is best?
It depends. I’ll get back to it, I promise. But in order to even know that answer, let’s first dive in and list out the various sleep training methods. I’ve got them organized by how much crying they allow.
No Crying or Tearless Sleep Training Methods
Baby-Led Sleep Training
Want to run things at baby’s pace? Great! This method may be for you. It’s run at your child’s pace so that they can get to a good night’s sleep on their own timing.
Gentle Sleep Training
This one can mean pretty much anything – it could be a minimal crying method, too, depending on how you do it. But the point is to make things as gentle as possible – which can also mean it’s a gradual or extinction style of sleep training.
Pick-Up and/or Put-Down Method
Just like it sounds. When your baby fusses, you pick up until they’re calm. Once they’ve calmed down, you lay your baby back in the crib and leave the room. Do this on repeat over and over again until the little one falls asleep.
Minimal Crying or Tears Sleep Training Methods
Grab a chair, place it by the crib then sit in it and be still. Then, each and every day, move the chair further and further away from the crib. The point is to give your child the feeling of security without actually holding them to soothe them. After a few days, you may not even need the chair and your child may be just fine to lay down on their own without you in the room.
Click here to read my article about the chair method of sleep training.
Controlled Crying Method
Even though your child might be crying, this sleep training method isn’t about picking him or her up. Instead, you’ll enter the room and talk in a calm voice and pat their back, but never picking them up. You can do this over and over again until your child goes to sleep on their own.
Sometimes this is also called extinction or gradual sleep training method, depending on how much crying you tolerate.
Gradual Method of Sleep Training
This method is meant to minimize or eliminate tears. The above chair method could be an example of this methodology. Gradual sleep training is also known as extinction sleep training.
Ferber Sleep Training Method
This method is a popular one designed by Dr. Richard Ferber. It involves preparation for bedtime, returning at gradually increasing intervals to comfort the baby (with or without picking them up, although generally without). Then, each night the return intervals get longer and longer.
This is more of a style than a specific method. And it’s often the same as a gradual sleep training method, like the chair method.
Basically, you’re slowly causing the sleep problems to become extinct. It’s a gradual process meant to minimize the tears.
This sleep training method takes patience on your part, but it should result in fewer tears and crying for the baby. You start by helping your baby get to sleep by soothing/rocking but then lessen your work of doing so over the course of the next few weeks. In theory, this means that your child should start to self-soothe and help get themselves to sleep easier.
Tears Allowed: Cry It Out Sleep Training Methods
Cry It Out Method
Some parents love it, some parents refuse to do it. But all parents can agree that this sleep training method isn’t easy. It’s just like it sounds…you let the baby cry it out.
However – there’s actually more to it than just putting your baby down and walking away. Because just doing that – well, it probably won’t work. But the gist of this method is that you’ll have to hear your baby crying over and over until they learn how to self-soothe.
The best sleep training method for your family: the one that works.
When it comes to sleep training methods, there are options to try and use. Just remember that your baby is needing help in the area of getting to bed so make certain that you’re also doing everything that you can to aid in a way that’s positive and beneficial for them as well.
Do whatever sleep training method works for you and your family. And if you try a method that doesn’t work for your family? Change it up – you can change part of the method or change methods completely. After all, there’s plenty of other methods to try.
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