Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guest Post: 5 Popular Methods to Sleep-Train Your Infant


It is commonly known that a sleep-deprived parent can often become irritable, depressed and ineffective throughout the day. While some might be embarrassed to turn to sleep-training techniques to get your bundle of joy to sleep more soundly during the night, sometimes it's the only solution for a parent to get some decent shut eye. Here are the top 5 sleep training methods that if effective, can lead to a happier, healthier, and more affectionate you.

1.      1. Cry it-Out method. The cry-it out method, or sometimes referred to as the Ferberizing method after its founder Richard Ferber, does what the name suggests: it requires you to put your baby to bed while they're sleepy, but awake, and let him/her cry until he/she falls asleep. That's not to say that you should let your infant cry all throughout the night, there are limitations. You are allowed to check-in on your baby ever so often, lengthening the intervals between days, but whatever you do, resist picking your baby up.  The idea is to let your infant gain some sort of independence and develop self-soothing skills that will help with their sleep cycle.  If your baby has become accustomed to being rocked to sleep, or falls asleep while nursing, it's natural for your baby to cry out in alarm for you in the middle of the night when you are not present.  This method is designed to train your infant to comfort themselves and feel secure if they wake up during the night or from a nap.

2.      2. No-tears method.  This method provides a more gradual approach to improving your infant's sleep cycle and is designed for parents who don't feel comfortable letting their child cry themselves to sleep. This is how it works:  you attend to your child on demand, comforting him or her as soon as he or she cries. The idea is that your baby ultimately knows what he or she needs and will quickly adapt to a sleep routine if he or she feels secure that you will take care of him or her.  Experts suggest fortifying the no-tear method through co-sleeping, rocking and nursing your baby to sleep and including any form of physical closeness to ease your infant.

3.      3. Weissbluth method. This method focuses more on parents and their ability to read their infant's sleep-cues such as rubbing eyes, and then reacting accordingly.  Experts suggest immediately soothing your infant using nursing or rocking once he or she shows signs of sleepiness and place your child in the crib. The Weissbluth methods varies from the Ferberizing method as it focuses on the "extinction" technique— a child is allowed to cry it out indefinitely during the night, and for an hour at nap time. Parents are advised to leave their child in the room and not return. But it is best to do whatever you feel most comfortable doing.

4.      4. The Core Night method. This method focuses on your infant’s sleeping and eating cycle. It's best to try out this method if you've noticed that your baby appears to wake up during the night, searching for food, but still eats extremely well during breakfast time. The idea is to train your child to sleep long hours without giving him or her anything to eat during the night, as late night feedings can induce sleep issues. Observe your baby first to see if he or she can manage long hours of sleep without feedings. If your baby gets up during the middle of the night, try giving him or her a pacifier or a sip of water, something to hold your baby off until early morning. This method works best for infants under 6 weeks of age and who weigh more than 10 pounds.

5.      5. Baby Whisperer Method.  This method, founded by Tracy Hogg, is a hybrid of the "cry-it-out" and the "no-tears" method.  Throughout this process, parents are encouraged to pick up and comfort their children when they cry, and put them back in their cribs once they've calmed down. While accelerating your infant's sleep-independence is still the focus like in the cry-it-out method, parents are advised against co-sleeping and should learn how to gradually decrease the amount of soothing they do to aid their child to sleep.

Which do you prefer? How have you gotten your infant to sleep through the night?

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes for bachelors degree.  Feel free to comment on this post.

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