Sleep training is an option for encouraging an older baby to sleep through the night and/or nap regularly. A hotly contested topic among parents, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer that will work for everyone. We’ve compiled a list of popular options so parents can understand what the differences are and choose whatever is best for their families.
Cry It Out
Also often known as “extinction,” the baby is left alone in their room to cry. Parents are expected to close the door and not interfere. A screaming baby is not the goal, but rather a side effect of the baby learning to soothe herself to sleep. The amount of crying should lessen each night.
The Ferber Method is part of the Cry It Out family, but not as extreme. Babies are still put into their cribs sleepy but awake. The parent(s) go into soothe the baby at set intervals if the baby becomes upset. Read the book: Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber
The “Sears Method” takes a different tactic. Dr. Sears recommends that families use methods like co-sleeping, rocking, lullabyes, and nursing a baby to sleep. These techniques are thought to provide more positive sleep associations. Read the book: The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears, James Sears
There are many families that opt out of any kind of “sleep training.” Some disagree with the principles and maintain that babies and toddlers weren’t meant to sleep through the night. Some studies indicate that a child may need nighttime parenting for the first 2 years of life. The babies and toddlers in these families are encouraged to sleep, but do so on their own timeline.
Any theory will strongly recommend waiting for several months before attempting to regulate sleep habits. Newborns are not designed to sleep in long stretches. Their incredible rate of growth requires almost constant nourishment so they’ll be up frequently to eat. Generally speaking, there’s nothing much that will change this pattern.
For older babies, make sure that other culprits (teething, illness, hunger, growth spurt, reflux) are not to blame before trying any option. A routine for bedtime and naps is helpful as is a similar bedtime each night. Despite the intense conversations among parents, there are no right answers when it comes to sleep training. A family’s decision is usually based on their culture, personality, pediatrician’s recommendations and a genuine desire to do the right thing.
Find Sleep Training Books Locally: read our post about the Book Revue Independent Bookstore in Huntington
Ask Dr. G: Read our post about Dr. G’s advice on toddler eating, sleeping and potty training.
Find Local Support Groups: Long Island Mom’s Meetup Groups
By Rachel Minkowsky