4 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep
I love my kids more than anything. But sometimes you just need some time to yourself, am I right? There’s a few trusted ways to help your little one get their rest. Which means precious time where your littles don’t require your attention, and finally getting long stretches of sleep. Have you ever thought about how you’d go about supporting your baby in putting themselves to sleep?
4 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep
Choosing your plan of action boils down to a few key things:
• Action plan
But before I share the goods on sleep, I need to address the important stuff.
1. Check with your child’s care provider before sleep training. I’m a pediatric sleep expert, but there are other factors their doctor will know more about.
2. Get to know their cries. Learn the difference between a cry out of protest, and one that needs you quickly.
4. Crying is how babies communicate. Sleep training shouldn’t be all crying, but it is how they will voice their protest in changing how to sleep. They’ll get the hang of it soon.
Sooo, what are the 4 ways to help sleep train your baby?
Stay in the Room
You may have also heard this one called “The Chair Method”, or lovingly dubbed “The Sleep Lady Shuffle”. No matter how you cut the cake, I love suggesting this method to my most reluctant clients. The ones who know sleep training is the right choice for their house, but have fears going into it. It’s okay to be nervous! And sometimes this method is just the thing to help everyone get through it. The Stay in the Room method is the most gentle method I recommend. It’s great because you still stick to your guns about babe learning to fall asleep on their own, but you’re never far away if they need a little comfort to get there. To do this, you place your little one in their crib as you normally would at bedtime. Take a seat in your chair, and stay in the room until they fall asleep. They still put themselves to sleep in their crib, but you’re there to reassure them that you’re near. Every few days you’re moving your chair farther away/closer to the door, until you’ve moved to the hallway. I recommend stretching out the time it takes you to respond once you’ve been practicing this new sleep strategy, but you’re still comforting throughout the process. This is a great option if tears are especially hard on your mama heart! Buuut, I will say it can be tricky to be sitting right there when your little isn’t pleased about learning to put themselves to sleep. If you go this route, know what’s best for your little family, but hold yourself accountable so that you won’t rush over too quickly. When it comes to sleep training, everyone is learning something new.
Leave and Check
AKA Progressive Waiting, or the 5/10/15 Method. This is the most popular path people take when they’re supporting their sweet pea towards independent sleep. What’s nice about this option is that you know just when you can check in on your babe. As a mom, I totally get it. Counting down those minutes as your baby fusses can feel like your last month of pregnancy all over again - taking FOREVER. I suggest setting a timer so you’re not tempted to cut corners. If you don’t end up needing to go in, then great! But it’s nice to have definitive parameters if you need ‘em. How does it work? After your bedtime routine, put your babe down to bed, and make your exit. If your little one starts to fuss, wait 10 minutes and then check in on them. Do your check to reassure them, and leave the room as usual. If they’re still unhappy, give it another 10 minutes and go in again. Rinse & repeat until your baby falls asleep. You may have heard other versions of this method where you slowly increase the amount of time you wait. This is an option for sure! Personally, I coach my clients to keep it at consistent 10 minute intervals. I prefer the simplicity, and have had success with it. Leave and Check is great because you’re still there to offer comfort (much like The Chair Method), but you’re allowing space for them to learn on their own. This method is appealing to families with other kiddos, because you can’t always be in a single room all evening. Sometimes there’s just not enough Mom to go around!
Plain Old Cry It Out
I know you’ve been waiting for this one, so let’s start with debunking an annoying rumour. Not all sleep training is CIO. Yes, there will be some tears with just about any option you choose, but crying is not the same as Cry It Out. Actual Cry It Out is also referred to as the Extinction Method. It can be very effective to see those sleep results in a hurry, but you won’t be shocked to hear that it’s not well received by everyone. This method consists of doing your bedtime routine, and putting your little one down to sleep for the night. You don’t go back into their room until the morning. To be honest, a small portion of little ones get overstimulated by the check ins, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep, so there are cases when this method could be a valid option. It’s about parents understanding what works best for their baby, and respecting that. This can also be done with varying degrees of intensity. Almost always, I don’t recommend going this route, because I firmly believe (and have the results!) that the other two methods will also help everyone sleep, and they’re a lot more responsive. Less extreme, and less heart wrenching. However, I have seen it work for tired families. Like any method, you should be seeing progress in the first couple days. If not, STOP. There may be other causes to their sleeplessness that should be addressed before attempting to sleep train.
Full disclosure, I don’t consider this a real method. But I’ve worked with families that have tried this before coming to me. This is the opposite extreme of CIO, and just like that method, this one is also not my fave. I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect a baby not to communicate their displeasure about a change, and it sets parents up for feeling like sleep deprived failures when their little does cry because they’re tired or upset. This option is so gradual, it can take literal months to see changes - and that’s not fair to anyone.
This method suggests that you put your baby in their crib and leave the room. If they fuss, pick them up and rock them until they stop fussing. Then put them back down and leave the room. Repeat the process until your baby falls asleep.
If you’re not seeing results as your little one is learning to sleep (or it doesn’t feel right to you as a parent!), getting support is your best bet. I’ve helped hundreds of families that are in the same situation as you, and brought them to the other side. They now get their rest, know what helps their baby sleep, confidently leave the house, and enjoy parenthood so much more.
Getting your sleep changes everything about your life, and I know you’re worth making that change. Get in touch with me and my team to chat about how we'll get you there.