Nicole, Queen's Square | February 3, 2017
It’s a new year, which means that this is a PERFECT time to actually, finally, definitely-doing-it-this-time, sleep train your little night owl. I know that, for the past three years since I’ve been a parent, ‘sleep train the kids (for real this time)’ shows up on my ‘to do’ list on a regular basis. And yet, there is SO much information available about possible methods and strategies. It’s overwhelming, and if you’re like me, it’s easier to procrastinate starting, rather than wade into the mess of sleep training methods.
So, I want to help you! I’m going to summarize some of the most popular methods out there, and provide resources that you can find, both here at the library and online, to help you on your midnight odyssey.
This is arguably one of the most controversial methods, but many parents will maintain it’s also one of the most effective. This method has parents establishing naptime and bedtime routines for their babies, and then allowing children to learn how to self-soothe (aka cry it out). Depending on the specific method you use, there is some allowance for going in and comforting at intervals. While difficult to do, many parents have stories like, “He cried for 30 minutes the first night, only 15 the second, and by the third he didn’t cry at all!” From my own experience trying this method, I would say that you have to have a strong will to withstand the sound of your baby crying – we tried this with my first, and gave up after about an hour of crying. But, for some kids, this works like a charm!
This method, pioneered by pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, worked really well for my second child, especially in his first six months of life. Dr. Karp discusses the “5 S’s” – swaddle, side-lying, shushing, swinging, and sucking. If you want to feel inspired, check out this video of Dr. Karp using these five practices to calm fussy babies. It really does work! Dr. Karp’s book doesn’t provide a lot of information for baby sleep post-newborn stage, but it can be a lifesaver if you have a fussy, colicky newborn.
The Book: The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp
Gentle Sleep Training
Within the realm of gentle sleep training methods, there are a two major books to highlight. In The Baby Sleep Book, Dr. William Sears instructs on a range of sleep issues, advocating for attachment parenting methods (wearing baby, co-sleeping), the importance of breastfeeding, and other strategies to soothe your crying infant. This book is good for those people who are committed to an attachment parenting style, but not as helpful if you aren’t breastfeeding, or are not open to co-sleeping with your child. Elizabeth Pantley’s, The No Cry Sleep Solution is a good fit for parents who want a gentle method, but aren’t fans of co-sleeping. Pantley emphasizes the importance of good naptimes, routines, and gently encouraging your baby to sleep on their own, offering many different tips and ideas to customize for your child.
I hope you feel inspired to finally tackle baby sleep in your house! Here are a few more books and online resources to check out on your quest:
Bed Timing - This book is great for summarizing the many different sleep methods, and discusses at what age is the best time to sleep train.
Hellobee is a popular parenting blog, with many posts written by real parents about sleep training successes and failures.
Just need a laugh? Check out, Go the F*** to Sleep
Have you had any success with sleep training? Which method worked best for you? Let us know in the comments!