But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, some sleep-training techniques are aimed at helping baby get to sleep with as few tears as possible.
While these may sound like a more pleasant alternative to “cry-it-out” techniques, don’t assume that it’ll will work from the get-go. It will still take some trial and error — and time — to nail these techniques. Most sleep experts will encourage you to stick to a chosen method for at least two weeks before trying another. Follow these steps to ensure greater success at sleep training your sweetie…
* Stick to a bedtime routine This schedule can consist of calming activities like reading a story, singing lullabies or just feeding your little one before putting him in the crib. More importantly, you should be consistent in sticking to the order of activities — for instance, bathing him, singing and settling him down in the crib. Keeping to a routine makes bedtime predictable, so baby is less likely to fuss when he knows what’s going to happen next.
* Introduce a sleep schedule As babies thrive on routines, it’s essential to put bubba on a sleep schedule as early as possible. This means sticking to the same time for his naps and bedtime at the same time every day. Having a timetable in place can also help you plan your activities around your child’s sleep needs.
Most sleep experts will encourage you to stick to a chosen method for at least two weeks before trying another.
*Take note of your baby’s sleep cues So that you’ll know when’s the right time to put him in the crib to sleep. Most tears-free techniques require you to put your cherub into the crib while he’s drowsy but still awake — so it’s important you know the signs. Look out for changes in behaviour like becoming less active, slower movements, yawning, rubbing his eyes and getting cranky or fussy with his food.
* Create a calming environment A dimly lit room with the curtains drawn will definitely turn the nursery into a more conducive sleeping environment. If you plan to play soft music or calming white noise, make sure it’s the right volume.
* Know your child’s sleep needs Your munchkin’s sleep patterns will change as he grows. For instance, a 1- to 2-month-old baby will need four to five naps daily, each lasting about 45 minutes to two hours. On the other hand, a 12-to 18-month-old baby takes only one to two naps daily, each lasting about one to three hours long.
Top tears-free sleep training methods…
1) The Chair Method
WHAT Also known as the “Disappearing Chair”, this gradual retreat technique is best for parents who want to be in the room with their little one as he learns how to fall asleep on his own. The structured plan ensures that your kewpie will eventually fall sleep without you being present.
HOW TO DO IT Put your tot in his crib when he’s sleepy but awake without any sleep props like rocking, nursing or pat his crib after every few nights. You’ll only return to the chair if your child wakes up in the middle of the night ― maybe giving him a quick pat and several words of reassurance. You’ll only leave once he’s asleep again. Do remember that whenever you’re seated by your baby’s crib, you should not be interacting with him at all.
Sleep associations refer to pleasant items or actions your child requires before he can doze off.
2) The Fading Method
BY Kim West, child and family therapist and author of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight
WHAT This sleep-training method helps you to gradually break the sleep associations that your child has relied on when he snoozes. Sleep associations refer to pleasant items or actions your child requires before he can doze off.
HOW TO DO IT After settling your child in bed when he’s awake but drowsy, you’ll leave the room if he’s not crying. Then for every five minutes, you’ll return to reassure him if he wails. It’s important to stick to just verbal reassurances before leaving the room. After which, you should only visit the nursery every five minutes to calm him down with reassuring words. Slowly increase the intervals between your visits as your child gets older.
3) No-Cry Solution
BY Elizabeth Pantley, parenting expert and author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.
WHAT Pantley is a firm believer that parents shouldn’t allow their child to cry themselves to sleep. Her sleep-training method is based on the principles of attachment parenting — a parenting approach aimed at nurturing a close relationship between you and your baby by feeding him on demand or letting him sleep in the same bed. Co-sleeping also features prominently in this method of sleep training, which encourages lots of physical touches between parent and child.
HOW TO DO IT Pantley has a 10-step process to draw up a successful sleep plan for bubba by age. The idea is to use positive sleep associations to help your child go to sleep. For infants from newborns to 4 months, Pantley encourages you to hold and rock your baby to sleep, while getting him to suck on a pacifier, bottle or your breast. Then, right before your baby falls deeply asleep, you remove the item and let him fall asleep on his own. You may also want to use a lovey — a sleep toy with no removable parts — to comfort your child. Pantley also points out that it’s just as important to let bubs fall asleep on his own in the crib on certain occasions, where possible.
4) Pick Up, Put Down (PU/PD)
BY Tracy Hogg, who wrote Secrets of a Baby Whisperer
WHAT This technique takes the middle ground between getting bubba to learn how to self-soothe and over-relying on you to help him fall asleep. You can only pick your child up if he refuses to or is unable to self-soothe.
HOW TO DO IT After your kewpie’s bedtime routine, put him in his crib. If he isn’t crying or fussing, leave the room. But if he cries, adopt a wait-and-listen approach. If the bawling escalates, pick him up and hold him for a minute or two before putting him back down. Make sure you don’t do anything stimulating — like making him laugh — which can yank him out of the snoozing mode. Once the crying subsides, return him to the crib and leave while he’s still awake. Repeat the process as many times as you need until your kid stops fussing and falls asleep.
Make sure you don’t do anything stimulating — like making him laugh — which can yank him out of snoozing mode.
BY Dr William Sears, paediatrician and author of The Baby Sleep Book
WHAT Dr Sears is an outspoken advocate against trying any sleeping training method that calls for leaving your baby to sleep through his tears. Crying incessantly isn’t beneficial for baby’s physical and emotional health, which can take years to heal.
HOW TO DO IT Dr Sears’ “Family Bed” technique recommends that you share the same bed with your hubby and your cherub. After going through with the bedtime routine, adopt the cuddle-curl position — bringing your knees up and tucking your arms under your head or pillow as you curl up around baby — creating a protected and safe space around him.
WARNING One of the biggest arguments against parents adopting this method of training is the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome due to suffocation by pillows, bolsters and blankets. You are also advised to avoid putting your kewpie between you and your hubby when you sleep for the same reason.
In case you missed these reads