Spend & save up to $50* this month.

Find out how.
Infant

Some of the best sleep-training methods for your baby

The different methods for putting babies to sleep

Life-Space Team December 02, 2019 4.5 mins

You’ve coped with an unsettled baby and poor sleep for long enough and need a plan to help your baby sleep better.

Being regularly disturbed at night by an unsettled baby can leave you running at less than 100 per cent. In your bleary-eyed attempt to make a cup of tea at 5am, you find that you’ve yet again put the teabags in the fridge and the milk in the pantry. We’ve all been there…

There are many different theories on how to help babies learn to sleep. This can be frustrating when you’re tired and want a simple solution, but on the other hand, a range of options allows you to pick the one that best suits you and your family. After all, no sleep expert knows your baby as well as you do.  

 

Here are some basic tips and tricks for helping your baby sleep:

 

Popular sleep training methods

Let’s examine sleep training methods, some of which may be used by sleep schools and/or private sleep consultants.

 

The Fading Method

 

What is it?

A gentle approach to promoting independent sleep in babies from 6-8 weeks upwards.

 

What’s involved?

You do whatever you usually do to help your baby fall asleep (such as feeding or rocking), but gradually shorten the time so that your baby gets used to less help.

 

How does it help?

It’s supposed to gradually shift the balance; you do less of the sleep work and your baby does more.

 

Things to consider

This brings about slow and gradual change, so you’ll need to be patient. But it’s good if you want to minimise crying.

 

The Pick-up/Put-down Method

 

What is it? 

Another gentle solution for babies as young as six weeks, where you comfort an unsettled baby, then put them back in their cot.

 

What’s involved? 

If your baby is crying in their cot, you pick them up and comfort them. When they’ve calmed down, you put them back to bed, repeating the process until they sleep.

 

How does it help?

It reassures them that you’re there, helping to deal with any separation anxiety or related fears.


Things to consider

Your baby’s temperament: some babies find being picked up stimulating and are annoyed when they’re put back down. Also consider whether your baby is getting too heavy for you to lift out of their cot regularly.

 

The Chair Method

 

What is it?

A compromise between too much comforting and too much crying, best suited to babies over 3-6 months.

 

What’s involved?

You put your baby in their cot, then pull up a chair nearby and sit down while your baby falls asleep. You give your child your presence but not your attention, aiming to ignore any fussing. Each night, you move your chair a little further away until you’re outside the door (yippee!).


How does it help?

It’s supposed to reassure your baby that you’re there while they learn the skills of self-settling, until they no longer need you in the room.


Things to consider

This will take time, determination and consistency. How will you handle being so close to your crying child and doing nothing about it? Some parents modify this method, providing an occasional pat or gentle word then going back to their chair.

 

The Ferber Method/Controlled comforting/Graduated extinction/Check and console

 

What is it?

A method that allows your child to grizzle or cry in their cot for a certain period to help them self-settle, offering low-level comfort after a set period.

 

What’s involved?

You put your baby in the cot, say goodnight and leave the room. If your child doesn’t settle, you wait a set amount of time then make a brief, consoling visit of about 15 seconds to pat their back or say something soothing. Then you leave, waiting a longer time before going back in. Each night, you extend the time before your first visit and between visits.


How does it help?

It’s supposed to wean your baby off your presence at night by creating longer gaps between comfort, thus teaching them to go to sleep alone.


Things to consider

Will you be able to resist your baby’s cries for the set number of minutes for several nights in a row? Do you think your baby is learning to settle themselves or just learning that if they cry for long enough you will appear?  

 

Extinction crying/Cry it out/Weissbluth Method/ No-peek crying

 

What is it?

A tough-love method for babies around 10 months old who no longer need overnight feeding. It’s also a method for parents who have tried everything else!

Opinion is fiercely divided on this technique, with some arguing it’s never appropriate and others saying it’s kinder in the long run as poor sleep isn’t good for babies or parents.

 

What’s involved?

You put your baby in the cot and leave. Under normal circumstances, you don’t go back in.

 

How does it help?

Not checking in avoids sending mixed signals to your baby. They get a clear message that it’s time to sleep.


Things to consider

Does this fit with your overall approach to parenting? If it does and you decide to proceed, it’s a good idea to plan how you’ll keep busy during the crying. Some say this method involves less overall crying since they argue it produces quicker results.

 

 

Whichever method you choose, stick with it for a week to a fortnight, then decide whether it’s working. Babies learn from repetition, so remember you may jeopardise any chance of success if you change methods every couple of nights.

Whilst it’s normal for babies to sleep erratically, if you are concerned with your baby’s sleeping habits then you should consult your health professional. Hopefully you and your baby will soon find a rhythm that works for you!

 

Goodnight, sleep tight!

 

Get your regular dose of health and wellness tips delivered to your inbox. Sign-up to our newsletter.