Sleep training your baby is not for the fainthearted. I don't know about you but getting my babies to sleep in their bed easily has not been my superpower. I have mostly been a co-sleeping advocate out of choice. However, a few of my kids were too WILD at night, and we found ourselves in the midst of sleep training. Now Anna's motherhood journey is at a point where she is deciding which sleep training method to use with Asa. You may also need help in sleep training your baby, so let's jump into this together. Let's be real, we can all use some better rest and since sleep is vital for a healthy baby, so does your baby.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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Our sleep training journey started with researching the different types of methods out in baby land. The first method we are reviewing is one that is a type of “extinction” method. Removing you, the parent, from getting the baby to sleep. Extinction methods are based on the assumption that the baby has no other underlying issues occurring, but rather relies on the parent to go to sleep. I'm not a fan for complete extinction methods. These seem harsher to me and difficult for everyone involved.
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Ferber Method of Sleep Training
Modified Extinction method, in this method you return briefly to reassure your baby that you are still available.
Preparing for Sleep Training
Every method I've researched stated one similar rule for sleep training a baby, you must create a healthy sleep preparation ritual each night.
- Be well rested before initiating your sleep training because you might be sleep deprived soon.
- Clear your schedule for a bit. (Refer to number 1)
- Create a routine that will signify to your baby that sleep time is coming: dinner, Bath, Book, a snuggle. All of these should be practiced habits so that your little one knows that bedtime is coming.
- Anna uses a sound machine with white noise, and it signals to Asa that it is sleep time. I like one that you can program remotely from your phone or laptop.
- Come up with Keywords that signal it's time to sleep. “Goodnight Asa, We love you!”
- Research and construct a plan.
- You and your significant other must be on the same page for this to work.
The Ferber Method – GRADUAL
The Ferber method of sleep training a baby is extremely well known. Developed by a pediatrician, Dr. Ferber, the director of The Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, at Children’s Hospital Boston. This method involves letting your baby cry it out, while you cry it out somewhere else. Mike and I used this method with Gavin, and it was tough on us all, but it eventually worked. Mike and I spent three long nights crying in the hall outside of his room. On the fourth night, it WORKED, and then we cried out of pure happiness.
Age of Baby
The best period for this sleep training method is around six months but is best after it is healthy for the baby to go 10-12 hours without feeding.
The Main Gist of the Ferber Method
It's a go-out-and-come-in sleep training method. First, you must complete your bedtime ritual. Lay the baby in his bed. Use keywords that you repeat nightly. You then walk out. Return in a preset amount of time, pat the baby's back or touch him, and say your keywords. Each time you go out, you gradually increase the time before you return, max 30, and remain at this interval, until the baby is asleep. During the visits with your baby, do not stay in the room longer than 1-2 minutes. The visit is to reassure everyone, the parents and the baby, that the baby is, in fact, okay and just upset. Ferber suggests not picking up the baby, but rather speaking quietly and lovingly to him before leaving again. Repeat the keywords and leave. If your baby is like my son, you probably will have to pick up his blanket each visit and replace in the crib. TIP: Make sure there is nothing within his reach. It will become a projectile missile. Check this out: The most effective ways to rock Second Trimester Pregnancy for the millennial mom
Start at Night
Ferber suggests starting at bedtime, but for the first night extend the regular bedtime 30-60 minutes later than usual. This will help your baby to be extra sleepy.
- Lay your baby in his crib.
- Say your keyword mantra.
- Leave the room without fanfare.
Night 1: return in 1-3 min, check on your baby, return in 5 min, check your baby, return in 10 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 10 minutes.
Night 2: return in 5 min, check on your baby, return in 10 min, check your baby, return in 12 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 12 minutes.
Night 3: return in 10 min, check on your baby, return in 12 min, check your baby, return in 15 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 15 minutes.
Night 4: return in 12 min, check on your baby, return in 15 min, check your baby, return in 17 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 17 minutes.
Night 5: return in 15 min, check on your baby, return in 17 min, check your baby, return in 20 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 20 minutes.
Night 6: return in 17 min, check on your baby, return in 20 min, check your baby, return in 25 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 25 minutes. Night 7: return in 20 min, check on your baby, return in 25 min, check your baby, return in 30 min check on your baby, and repeat this until your baby is asleep. Max interval is 30 minutes. By
Night 7: possibly sooner, your baby should be cooperative. Honestly, this depends on your commitment to the schedule. If you break it and breakdown, you will stab yourself in the foot and have to begin the entire thing again. Ferber equates the sleep training of a baby with sleep training of an adult to sleep with no pillow. Which would take time to accomplish?
If by day seven your baby is still struggling, then keep increasing the intervals by 1 min or so. YOUR BABY WILL BE SLEEP TRAINED! If for some reason nothing is improved, consider other possibilities.
- ear infection
- your husband or wife passed on an extremely stubborn gene.
Do the same progression for nap times. However, if after 30-60 minutes your child has not slept then get him up. If he falls asleep too late or too long, this may hinder his night's sleep.
- Lower the lights in the evening and maintain a calming atmosphere.
- No exercise or stimulating activities before bedtime
- Avoid stimulants (like caffeine), sugar, and hard-to-digest foods before bedtime
Good luck with sleep training your baby. Keep up updated and be sure to check out our next review of another sleep training method.