Numerous sleep training methods have risen in popularity over the last few years, from the controversial “cry it out” approach to the Ferber method. As a result, it can be challenging to gauge how best to sleep train your baby. Many sleep training methods require parents to leave their children crying out for comfort. However, sleep training doesn’t have to be traumatizing for the baby or the parents. If you feel your baby is old enough and you need some well-deserved sleep, here are some gentle sleep training methods to try.
The Pick Up, Put Down Method
Popularized by Tracy Hogg in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, the “pick up, put down” sleep training method means less crying for your little one than the “cry it out” method, but it still allows you to give them time to self-soothe before comforting them.
First, it requires you to put your child down to sleep and for you to leave the room. Next, wait to see if your child stirs or if they self-soothe. If they fuss, gently place your hand on their chest or back and shush them. If this offers no comfort to the baby, pick them up again and calm them down. Once the baby has calmed down, put them back down and start the process over once again.
The Chair Method
With the chair method, you sit in a chair in the room after you place your tired baby in their crib. If the baby cries, offer them comfort by patting them or speaking in a soothing voice. Then, leave the room once the baby is in a deep sleep. If the baby wakes up again, go back into the room and offer them comfort from the chair. Then, gradually move the chair further and further away every night until your baby can fall asleep without you in the room.
Both of these methods offer parents a way to sleep train their babies without the awful experience of having to resort to crying it out. Instead, you are still able to provide them with comfort and reassurance.
Points to Consider With Gentle Sleep Training
Before deciding on any one method of sleeping training, ensure your child is old enough for the exercise to be effective. It is essential that your baby has the ability to self-soothe and no longer needs the calories that come from night feeding. It is believed that this usually occurs at around the four-month mark.
Secondly, feel free to use a pacifier to help soothe your baby. If you are worried about your infant sleeping with a pacifier in their mouth, then you can alleviate this anxiety by simply removing the pacifier when your baby is sleeping. In fact, studies suggest that pacifiers could reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Lastly, always make sure to trust your parental intuition. If you feel that your baby is not coping with a particular method, pivot and try something else. You could even stop sleep training altogether. Studies show that there is no long-term difference between babies who are sleep trained and those who are not.
Parents shouldn’t feel like they have to use stricter methods for sleep training to be effective. Other, gentler options might work better for your baby and your family. Give these methods a try so that, with some patience, the whole family could enjoy uninterrupted slumber.