How to Sleep Train Baby 

How to Sleep Train Baby 

Sleep training methods that work and how to execute them 

Many tired and frustrated parents search the phrase “how to sleep train baby” when they want a crash course in baby sleep training. 

I hear from these parents a lot. 

They soon find that sleep training is a multi-faceted topic that requires a lot of research and they are too exhausted and busy with their new baby to sift through all the information they find. 

Although pediatric sleep training only involves a handful of methods, there are literally thousands of related topics that can enhance your sleep training plan if applied correctly. Pediatric sleep experts and experienced parents also like to offer useful tips, tricks and hacks that show up when you plug the words “how to sleep train baby” into a search engine. 

There is also tons of information on the evolution of pediatric sleep science and how the “cry it out” method has evolved and branched out into a variety of gentler methods that are aligned with modern parenting. 

And let’s not forget about the millions of articles theorizing about the effect of sleep training on children, which inevitably leads to discussion on alternative methods that do not involve independent sleep. 

The amount of information, and our access to it, is a wonderful thing but it can also stress you the hell out. 

The sheer vastness of the topic can cause you to log off feeling more confused than when you logged on. 

The purpose of this blog is to give you the straight dope on sleep training. I will give you an introduction to the basic methods and some tips on how to execute them. However, I caution you to only employ these methods if you feel confident and ready to go it alone. Sleep training can be a daunting process. I speak to many clients who have tried to do it themselves and failed. If you are not 100% sure that you are ready, I urge you to consider hiring a pediatric sleep expert who can offer professional help. 

How to Sleep Train Baby – The 4 Most Popular Methods 

How to Sleep Train Baby –  The Check and Console Method 

Also known as graduated extinction, the interval method, the Ferber Method.

This method is simple in practice and is very effective. It involves leaving your baby in her safe sleep environment for intervals of time so she gets used to falling asleep without any assistance. However, her caregiver can come into the room at set times to offer consolation and comfort. I tell clients that they may choose any interval of time between 5 and 10 minutes, as long as they try their best to stick to it. Here is a sample interval schedule for the Check and Console Method:

  • Go through your bedtime routine. 
  • When it is time for your baby to go to bed, give her a final embrace and place her in her safe sleep space. 
  • Leave the room and set a timer for 7 minutes. 
  • When the timer goes off, go into the room and check on your baby if she is crying and in need of consolation. 
  • Leave the room after a few minutes and set another timer for 10 minutes. 
  • Follow 10 minute intervals until your baby falls asleep independently. 

How to Sleep Train Baby – The Chair Method

Also known as Camping Out.

The Chair Method was developed to be gentler than the Check and Console method and certainly gentler than the old school Cry it Out method. 

  • Place a chair in your baby’s room, somewhat close to the crib.
  • Go through your bedtime routine.  
  • When it is time for your baby to go to bed, give her a final embrace and place her in her safe sleep space. 
  • Sit in the chair until your baby falls asleep, offering consolation with your voice but preferably not with physical contact. However you can offer physical affection if you feel your baby needs it.
  • After 3 nights, you move the chair a few feet further away. 
  • Every 3 nights move the chair closer to the door, until you are in the hallway and finally, not present in the room at all. 

How to Sleep Train Baby – Shush, Pat Method 

I have written about this method before and I do think it can be effective, especially for babies younger than 4 months, who are not quite ready for completely independent sleep. For a detailed explanation of this method check out my How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Being Held blog post. 

How to Sleep Train Baby – The Pick Up Put Down Method 

The Pick Up, Put Down Method is considered the gentlest method of sleep training. It’s also the method that requires the most commitment and patience. It is exactly what the title indicates. 

  • Go through your bedtime routine.  
  • When it is time for your baby to go to bed, give an embrace and place him in his safe sleep space. 
  • If he begins to cry or fuss, pick him up and hold him until he calms down. 
  • You then put him down. If he begins to cry again, you pick him up and hold him until he calms down again. 
  • You then put him down again and repeat these steps until he begins to settle on his own and fall asleep. 

How to Sleep Train Baby – Tips for Success 

Now I know what you’re thinking – Why are these explanations of the different sleep training methods so short? The truth is, they are all fairly simple in theory and in practice. They become more complicated when applied to real families, with real babies and children. 

If I went into great detail about each of these methods and addressed all the possible scenarios that could exist within a family, this blog post would be 20,000 words or more. However, there are some tried and true tips that apply to almost every situation:

  • Build a solid bedtime routine and try to follow it as often as possible. 
  • Follow age appropriate wake windows and watch for your baby’s sleepy ques. 
  • Remain consistent and don’t give up, even if things don’t go exactly as planned. 
  • Independent sleep is the most important factor if you want your baby to go to sleep on his own. 
  • Break sleep associations such as rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep and holding to sleep if your baby wakes up several times a night and cannot fall asleep without them. 

Helping families navigate the complicated world of pediatric sleep science and sleep training is my passion. I would be honored to help you get some rest and some time to yourself. Book a consultation with me today to begin the process of building a detailed and customized sleep plan that is designed for your family.