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Sleep Training Basics: The Road To Snoozeville

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It may seem like it was only yesterday your body was heavy with pregnancy, and now here you are – months later – holding your sweet little bundle in your arms. Google searches relating to labor and delivery have ceased, and now you’ve begun researching ways to ensure you raise a healthy, happy baby. One daunting task required of parents: sleep training.

“The top tip I can give parents beginning sleep training is to develop a routine,” advised Kalle Simpson, a sleep expert who’s been in the sleep industry for over a decade. “Your baby’s brain depends on sleep, so setting baby up for success is incredibly important. Prioritize your baby’s sleep by picking a method, setting a routine, and sticking to it. Starting with naps will make a huge difference in preparing baby for sleep training. After that, creating an ideal environment for baby to sleep is paramount in sleep training.”

When you begin sleep training depends on your child, but the recommended age is four to six months. With Simpson’s expertise, we’ve outlined some of the common sleep training methods and shared tips for each.

The “Cry it Out” Method
“The “cry it out” method was created by Richard Ferber in the 1980s,” said Simpson. “The theory says that by letting your child cry as they are learning to fall asleep, they will learn to use self-soothe more effectively in the middle of the night, or during nap times.”

For this method, you should place your baby in a crib once he or she is sleepy, but not fully asleep. Say goodnight, give a kiss, read a book, or create some sort of goodnight routine. If your child begins crying, it’s important to let him or her cry for a designated period of time. This amount of time should get incrementally longer every night, starting with three to five minutes and progressing to 10 minutes, 15, and so forth. After that time has elapsed, it is OK to go back into the room and gently soothe your child, but make sure to keep the lights off and don’t pick him or her up. While still awake, leave the room again. Follow this routine as many times as it takes throughout the night.

For all the sleep training methods, but especially this one, it’s important to follow through and to have both parents on board. Discuss what your plan of action will be with your partner if/when your child begins to cry, and stay consistent throughout the sleep training process. While this method works more quickly compared to the others, one downside is that it can be upsetting to hear your child cry and not be able to immediately soothe.

The “No Tears” Method
An opposite approach to the “cry it out” method is the “no tears” method, which is based on supporting the baby as much as possible as he or she learns to sleep alone, Simpson explained. For this method, you should remain in your child’s room until he or she falls asleep, offering comfort as soon as any crying begins.

“No-cry is often a slower process than cry it out, and requires more preparation on the part of the parents, as the method asks Mom or Dad to stay in the room during sleep sessions,” she noted.

Co-Sleeping Method
“Another method is co-sleeping. This method encourages the parents to follow their child’s sleep schedule by sleeping in the same room,” said Simpson.

In this method, your child will be in the same room as you, sleeping in his or her crib, or alternatively sleeping in your bed. The idea behind co-sleeping is that bedtime and sleeping become an additional opportunity for bonding with your baby, which is important for any parent. It also allows for easier feedings, especially for those who breastfeed. One downside to co-sleeping is that it turns the bedroom into a family room, thereby reducing intimacy between parents in the bedroom. It can also make the inevitable shift of eventually moving your child into his or her own room more difficult.

Whatever method you decide to use – and this will vary greatly depending on your child’s needs – remember to stick to a routine and create a comfortable, sleep-conducive environment for your baby.

Wendy Rose Gould is a writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers women’s lifestyle topics for numerous digital publications, including InStyle, xoVain, Refinery29, Revelist, PopSugar and ModCloth. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram or at

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