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Best Sleep Training for Infants

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Studies on sleep training have demonstrated not only greater ease for infants who are learning to self-guide sleep but also an improved mood for mothers. While sleep training may seem daunting at first, it’s often worth the effort.

The problem is that we tend to see a lot of possible sleep training methods floating around the internet. How can you decide which one is best for your infant?

At The Learning Experience, we believe that our help doesn’t stop and start with daycare or preschool. We strive to provide parents with useful resources that will help at home, too.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best sleep training techniques. Read on to learn more and decide which technique is best for your family.

What Sleep Training Is and Is Not

Sleep training is the process of guiding an infant through the process of falling asleep without help from a guardian. Rather than rocking your baby to sleep or holding her until she drifts off, you set her down awake and she falls asleep on her own. Sleep training is also a useful way to teach an infant to self-soothe when she awakens, rather than needing comfort from you.

Sleep training does not entail that you never intervene when your baby cries at night. Many parents are still night weaning when they start sleep training, which means that nighttime feedings still occur. If nighttime crying seems unusual or severe, it’s important to check on your infant, even if you’re working on sleep training.

When to Start Sleep Training

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to when you should start sleep training. In theory, infants can go up to six hours without feeding by about four months of age. However, this depends on how much they’re eating per feeding in relation to how much they can eat per feeding.

On average, sleep training may begin when your baby is between four and six months old. Around this time, many babies are able to go for about six to eight hours without feeding. Plus, they have not yet started to associate your presence and comfort with their ability to sleep.

Never hesitate to talk to your pediatrician about when to start sleep training. Together, you can create a more customized timeframe.

The Top Three Sleep Training Techniques

Now, let’s take a look at the three best sleep training techniques. Remember, sleep training infants doesn’t look the same from one household to the next. You can always modify the techniques you’re using, although consistency is often the key to success; it just may take longer for your infant than someone else’s.

The Cry It Out Method

The cry it out method, also referred to as CIO or extinction, is a lot like what it sounds like. You put your baby to bed with a full stomach, burped, freshly diapered, and safely swaddled.

When she cries, you don’t get up to comfort her. Instead, you wait until it’s time for her to wake up to feed or get up for the day. Over time, the crying spells often last a shorter amount of time as she learns to put herself happily to sleep.

We know what you’re thinking: this method sounds harsh. The truth is that it’s more distressing for you than it is for her. Plus, you will always use your best judgment, responding to cries that seem to indicate a bigger issue.

The Ferber Method

The Ferber method is quite similar to the CIO method. Rather than letting her cry it out indefinitely, however, you set a timer or watch the clock. If she cries for 15 minutes, you get up to comfort her, lengthening that period of time over the course of several days.

This method is great for parents who find the CIO method difficult to face. Plus, both you and your infant start to learn that most of the time, the crying can cease after a few minutes and she can go back to sleep. While it may take longer to complete than the CIO method, she will learn how to settle herself down without intervention.

The Bedtime Fading Method

The bedtime fading method is great for infants who tend to do the most crying right after being put to bed. This may happen because your infant’s body isn’t settled into the circadian rhythm that aligns with bedtime. It is a bit more complicated, but we’ll break it down step by step.

First, do away with the bedtime you have now and instead look for visual cues of sleepiness. This includes things like yawning, eye rubbing, mild fussing, and turning away from bright lights. When these visual cues arise, put her to bed.

She might go to sleep right away and stay asleep. If she continues to fuss after about 15 minutes or cries in the night, get her back up for about 30 minutes, then try again.

After a few nights of putting her to sleep at the time she showed sleepiness on night one, bump down bedtime by 15 minutes. Continue to do this every few days until bedtime occurs when you want it to.

At this point, she may be done with sleep training, altogether. However, you may need to start the CIO or Ferber method at this point to complete the process.

Looking for More from Your Childcare? We Can Help

Sleep training is one of those areas of parenthood that can make you feel like you’re not getting it “right.” The truth is that some infants may excel at sleep training in a few short days while others may need more time. Give these sleep training methods a shot and remember, consistency is the best way to make the training stick.

Are you looking for a daycare center or preschool that cares about developmental milestones as much as you do? The Learning Experience is a great choice. Find a TLE center near you and contact us to find out more about our programs and resources.

The Learning Experience – Alpharetta
11855 Jones Bridge Rd
Alpharetta, GA 30005
(770) 733-1272

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