Baby crying part 3 – sleep training strategies
Does your baby or child take a long time to settle down or wake frequently through the night? Parenting Consultant, Lorna Clark, is here to help with sleep training techniques to slowly train your baby to sleep all night whilst supporting them through the process.
If your baby takes hours to settle each evening and wakes up several times in the night (when they no longer need a feed) you may decide to use some form of sleep training to get a good night rest for the whole family. Here are some of the approaches which I have found work well with babies under 18 months old.
You may also find the following articles helpful. See baby crying part 1 – is your baby stressed and baby crying part 2 – controlled crying for more information about stress in babies and controlled crying.
Controlled crying (cry it out)
This is probably the best known, and most controversial, method. The baby is put to bed and the parent leaves the room. The parent will then either leave the baby for as long as it takes him to fall asleep or check on the baby at gradually lengthening intervals. I rarely recommend controlled crying, but it can be very effective. One baby I worked with went from waking twenty times a night to sleeping a solid twelve hours in just a few days.
This is a good method to use with babies, either newborns (to encourage good habits from the beginning) or older babies where a problem has developed. The baby is comforted in her cot or moses basket until almost asleep then left to drift off herself. If your baby likes a particular form of comfort, patting her tummy or stroking her hair for example, you can do that while she lies in the cot. Rubbing her tummy clockwise can also help to soothe a baby who is used to a feed, but only if you are sure she is not truly hungry.
If a baby is used to falling asleep with some kind of prop such as a dummy or bottle rapid removal can help. Results do depend on how attached the baby is to the prop, in most cases I have been able to get rid of a dummy entirely within a few days. The aim is to allow the baby to have the prop for as short a time as possible (ten to thirty seconds) before removing it. It may be necessary to offer and remove the prop several times but he should eventually fall asleep without it.
This method works well with older babies and young toddlers. Each night the parent comforts the child to sleep, reducing the level of comfort every few days. For example, to begin with the parent might lie on the bed holding the child. To start training, the parent would sit next to the bed holding the child. After three days they might hold her hand, then simply sit by the bed. The parent can then gradually, over several weeks if necessary, move away from the bed and out of the bedroom.
Photography: <Eperales @Flickr