As a mom, I have never been able to use the Cry It Out method. Completely not my style. When I hear my baby, I feel compelled to go to them, even if I am oh-so-tired. It tugs at my heart-strings and creates a ball inside that I simply cannot ignore. That’s not saying my kids don’t ever cry. But, sleep-wise, my sanity could not handle that technique. My guest today, Kelley, delves deeper into this and other ways you may use to get your tiny one to drift off to dreamland.
Maybe you’ll discover the key ingredient you’ve been missing…
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It can quickly become overwhelming when trying to find the perfect sleep method when parents are working on shaping their your little one(s)’ sleep. Over the years I have worked with many families who quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of information on how to get their baby or child to sleep.
The biggest common thread is we were told to let them cry it out (CIO), and that is the only solution. I stop parents in their tracks and quickly explain there are tons of other options out there, they usually just take more time, patience, and consistency. What is most important is that we set solid sleep foundations in place, and give a baby or child the tools to have healthy, lasting sleep.
My first word of advice to families is you do you.
If CIO works for your family, then that is amazing news and it was right down your alley! More times than not, I have families who have implemented cry it out to no avail or want gentler approaches to sleep learning. I am on the same page as that is one huge point I always bring to light. I am all about families helping and supporting their child through this process. Does that mean you will not have any tears? Usually not. Why? Because it is the natural process for a baby to communicate with us.
There are two important factors to remember when tears are happening.
One, tears of frustration when a baby or child is frustrated by the changes, the new routine, or process that is taking place. Then, there are tears of pain such as sickness, hurt, or not well. These two factors are very different. When you have tears of pain, you need to help comfort and be with your child to assess the situation. When there are tears of frustration, you are going to be there to guide and support them through the sleep-learning process. But, good changes are going to be happening, and it will take time and consistency to complete the process.
Today, I want to discuss 5 of the most popular sleep learning methods and give a little more background information for each.
I find it of utmost importance that families are able to have choices and choose what fits their family the best. One big reason I enjoy working one on one with families is being able to tweak and adjust what works best for each child. I usually treat methods as a buffet sampler, taking bits and pieces from each to create a sleep plan that gives families the greatest results long-term for a little one(s)’ sleep.
Cry It Out| Extinction| Weissbluth:
Families, a lot of the time, will explain they have used cry it out, but usually, it is not the full-blown extinction technique. Cry It Out by Weissbluth is where you complete your bedtime routine, lay baby down, shut the door, and see how things play out. You do not return until wake up time each morning. This is the highest level of cry it out, in which each night the child is supposed to cry less and less and quickly sleep through the night. Some families have wonderful success with this method and never look back, while others have a short term fix or begin to see issues later down the road and need other methods when bumps in the sleep road happen.
Graduated Extinction |Check and Console |Ferber Method:
Many times, Ferber is confused with the Cry It Out method by Weissbluth. Ferber feels you have various intervals you will set to go in and check on your child to reassure them you are still there, but the checks should be short and you do not interact too much or pick the baby up. You are in the room 2-3 minutes max and reassure with your voice or a quick pat and back out of the room. The point is for each waking during the night, you extend the time before you enter back into the baby’s room and every night after, the times will increase until the baby has successfully learned to fall asleep on their own.
Sleep Lady Shuffle| AKA Chair Method:
This method is widely used when parents are trying to support their child. Preschoolers and older children tend to find this method very reassuring, and it can be implemented in various ways when you are helping an older child learn independent sleep. With older babies and younger toddlers, you can see more tears from this method as they are set in their ways and frustrated from the changes. This one helps parents feel much better as they are there in the room, next to the crib, sitting and comforting baby during these new changes.
Pick Up/Put Down:
For many families, they tend to find this method helpful around the 4-6 month age range. You can implement this method with any age as you are there comforting, helping, and consoling them. You can have the most minimal tears as you can constantly PUPD (Pick Up, Put Down) if you feel it best. Actual “sleep training” (a word I do not use often) is not to begin until the 4-month marker, but with younger babies you can implement PUPD when you are helping them to sleep or trying to introduce the crib, it is a great way to comfort a younger baby.
Again, this requires a great deal of time and patience. It is very hands-on and can take more time to achieve sleep goals, but it is very gentle and you can keep the tears as minimal as possible. For older babies, it can sometimes stir them up and get them more frustrated. Thus, creating more tears in the process. Parents sometimes find PUPD harder once babies are more mobile and set in their ways.
FIO (Fade It Out):
This is one of the most gentle techniques and gives usually the least amount of tears. You continue to use the method baby prefers to fall asleep and over time you slowly fade it away. If the baby enjoys nursing to sleep, rock to sleep, paci to sleep, or any other preferred way to fall asleep, you continue to do this with the baby. Then, you slowly and gradually fade the sleep prop away. The key is to do less of the work for your little one and they begin to do more of it themselves.
This method takes a great deal of time, patience, and consistency, and it can take a very long time to reach results. This is a great option for parents, wanting to keep the tears as minimal as possible, but understand that seeing full results can take a great deal of time. If your baby enjoys rocking to sleep, you will slowly decrease the time you are rocking each and every waking and each and every night. Eventually, the baby will only be rocking for part of the bedtime routine and into the crib awake to fall asleep on their own.
A reminder when looking at which method may be the best fit for your family: it is important to remember we, as humans, do not enter this world knowing how to sleep.
We have to be educated, given the right tools, and helped to instill the vital sleep foundations so the baby or child can have healthy sleep. No family should feel the effects of sleep deprivation. There is a way to find help to have more solid sleep for the entire family. The amount of developmental growth that occurs during a little one’s sleep is monumental when sleepless days and nights turn into months and years of lack of sleep. Milestones can be missed, delayed developments, and inability to thrive from the pure lack of sleep deprivation that has set into place. This does not only go for a child, but for the parents or caregivers who are also missing out on vital sleep.
I am currently certified as a pediatric sleep consultant, ages newborn through six years old.
Serenity Sleepers is committed to helping families develop peaceful sleepers using only the safest, healthiest and most gentle approaches. I was recently voted one of the top sleep consultants in the U.S as well as completing the 30-hour mental infant health continuing education course. Over the years I have always had a passion and desire for working with infants and children. I obtained a bachelor and master’s degree in early childhood and middle school education and had the pleasure of working with children for many years. Through the years I have developed a strong passion for educating myself and others on creating healthy and safe sleep environments for babies and children.
Every child and family has a unique and different situation, and everyone should be treated with great care.
One of my top priorities is devoting my time and efforts to making sure I create the right individualized sleep plan to meet each family’s needs. Educating families on age appropriate sleep techniques and methods is extremely important. Teaching others how to implement the right sleeping strategies to meet their individual needs is one of my top goals. Being able to give parents and caretakers the ability to help their little ones develop healthy, strong, and peaceful sleeping habits is one of my main goals.
Please feel free to visit my website to learn more about how I can help you and your family. I send out newsletters and blog posts covering all topics related to your little ones. Visit my website at www.serenitysleepers.com or email me at email@example.com
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Crying it out can be tough, I tried it when my son was younger.. but I always caved in. At some point you have to let it go but only when it feels right. Eventually they will get it.
I couldn’t agree more! I’m not a cry it out mama. My kids start sleeping through the night around age 4 and I’m good with that. haha