A little nighttime reading

I decided to sleep train my baby, what method works best?

If your baby is having trouble falling and staying asleep, Dr. Rebecca Kempton, a certified infant and toddler sleep specialist at Baby Sleep Pro, can help. In her second guest post for Slumbr, find out which sleep training method might be right for your family. And if you love her sleep tips for parents and baby, check out her site: babysleeppro.com.

The idea usually hits you during the hundredth night waking when your sleep deprived brain manages miraculously to have a coherent thought - what if I just read a book or two and get this kid on the sleep train?

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. If you do read one or two of the hundreds of sleep books and blogs out there, you’ll quickly realize the advice is conflicting, confusing and profuse.  If it really were that simple, I’d be out of a job!

The good news is there are a variety of effective methods from which to choose. The answer to what will work best depends on a variety of factors, including your child’s temperament, your goals, your tolerance levels and the amount of involvement you would like to have in the process.

Here are your options:

Cry It Out (CIO) aka Extinction
Advocated by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Extinction, more popularly known as “cry it out,” is the method where you put your baby safely to sleep, close the door and let them cry until they fall asleep.  Although it takes the least parental involvement, it’s not for the faint of heart, as the prolonged crying is hard for many new moms.  The benefit is results happen fast, usually within days. For many moms,  the benefits of having a well rested baby and family outweigh the challenge of the tough love technique.

Check and Console aka “Ferberizing”
A slightly more gradual approach with more parental involvement was popularized by Dr. Richard Ferber in his book “Solve your Baby’s Sleep Problems.”  Also called “controlled crying,” the method gradually increases the amount of time you check on your baby (5 min, 10 min, 15 min...etc.) until they fall asleep.  Over the course of several days, your child’s crying will gradually diminish, and they will learn to fall asleep on their own. This method works for parents who can tolerate some crying, but prefer to console their child during the process.

Fading aka “The Chair Method”
The “Chair” method is even more gradual; it works especially well  for parents who prefer not to let their baby cry all alone. Instead,  you sit on a chair progressively farther and farther away from the crib over the course of days until finally the chair is out of the room and then out of your baby’s sight. Although you do not pick up your child in this method, at least you are in the same room  room to console them and and sooth them to sleep.

Pick up/Put Down
This method, described by Tracy Hogg, sometimes called the Sleep Whisperer, requires intense parental participation.  You pick up your baby every time she cries and then put her down as soon as she calms down. This is repeated over and over until she falls asleep.  You usually have to repeat this method for several days and nights to succeed.  But the method does work well for parents who feel it is the most “gentle” way to teach their babies to sleep.

So what will you choose?
In my experience,  there is no one-size-fits-all because every child has a different temperament. Furthermore, every family has different routines and goals so what works best for one family does  not work for another. What all of these methods share, however, is that they all work--if you follow their techniques consistently.  If so, they all guarantee a well-rested baby and family!

If you missed Dr. Kempton's first guest post for Slumbr with 5 tips for helping your baby sleep through the night, check it out here.

Dr. Kempton also shares the top myths about sleep training here.

After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Dartmouth and an M.D. from Cornell Medical School, Rebecca Kempton worked for several years as a medical director for healthcare technology and pharmaceutical companies before becoming certified as a pediatric sleep specialist and starting her own business, Baby Sleep Pro. Using a variety of behavioral techniques, she customizes sleep solutions based on individual family goals and children’s temperaments and coaches families to a better night’s sleep. Dr. Kempton works with clients both nationally and globally by phone, Skype, and email and with home visits. She lives in Chicago, with her husband and three children, ages 8 and under.

For more information, email [email protected], visit babysleeppro.com and follow her on facebook.com/babysleeppro and twitter @babysleeppro.

 Image credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. /hin255