Methods for Teaching Your Baby to Sleep through the Night

11 March, 2018
There are numerous techniques for teaching babies to sleep. You just need to have patience, consistency and to establish good habits.
Teaching a baby to sleep is a difficult task that parents must face. Each child is unique, and families should adapt the techniques they use to fit their child’s needs. 

Sometimes, you may even find that opposing techniques can be effective with the same child during different periods of time.

In general, specialists recommend introducing a bedtime technique during the baby’s fourth month of life. However, the right time can vary from case to case.

Some babies sleep several hours straight from a very young age, while others have a harder time.

General advice to help your baby sleep through the night

There are two completely opposite theories with respect to helping your child get a good night’s sleep.

However, you should first get to know some common rules of thumb that help your child develop this habit.

  • The entire family should be in agreement about what method will be used. If a mother decides to allow the child to cry for a few minutes, then no one else should go pick the baby up.
  • Establish specific nap times and stick to the schedule. Otherwise, your child will be overly tired at bedtime and actually have a harder time relaxing.
  • Repeat the same routine every night before bed. This may involve giving your baby a bath, reading a story, singing a song, rubbing her back, etc.
  • Try to get your baby to sleep early. If you wait until too late, she will be too tired and irritable to fall asleep easily.
  • Avoid arguments among adults or older siblings around bedtime, as little ones can perceive the tension.

Experts continue to investigate and debate about the best conditions for teaching babies to sleep, and have yet to agree. This is because there is no one-size-fits-all technique.

Some parents get the best results with one technique, while other families are happy with another. 

Methods for Teaching Your Baby to Sleep through the Night

Methods for teaching your baby to sleep

  • Sleeping without tears

This is surely the most desired scenario for every baby’s grandparents. Grandparents can’t stand to watch their precious grandchildren cry, no matter what the reason.

William Sears is a pediatrician that raised the banner of the No-Cry Sleep Solution. He bases his ideas on the concept that babies should associate sleeping with positive experiences and emotions. 

If your baby manages to associate sleeping with caresses and warmth, then he’ll be able to sleep peacefully.

According to the method, you should take your baby to bed when he is already close to dozing off. Try to avoid even the quietest noise. If needed, pick your child back up and cradle him as many times as needed.

Nurse your baby or give him his bottle or pacifier, gently caress him and make him feel safe. These are key parts of the technique.

Another suggestion is for the parents to sleep along with the baby, if they choose to. What matters most is that the baby associate this moment with comfort and safety.

This method takes more time and the teaching takes place at a gradual pace. Slowly, your child will begin to wake up less frequently during the night and going to sleep will be a more pleasant experience.

“William Sears affirms that if a baby manages to associate sleeping with caresses and warmth, then he’ll be able to sleep peacefully.”

  • Cry it out methods

In the other end of the spectrum are those who claim that, in order to teach a baby to sleep on her own, you need to let her cry

With this method, children adapt to a new sleeping habit much faster. However, the process requires a great amount of patience and discipline.

Physician Richard Ferber affirms that a child must learn to calm her own fears in order to learn to sleep. To achieve this, the baby should be placed in her crib while she is still awake.

If your little one cries, you can go to her side and calm her with some pats on the back without picking her up. Then, you should leave the room.

Allowing your child to cry for a few minutes will not cause her any damage. Seeing her mom or dad will make her feel safe. After some tears, your child will fall asleep.

Methods for Teaching Your Baby to Sleep through the Night
  • The fading method

This method is a midpoint between the previous two. The goal is to teach the child to calm himself down, but in a more gradual way.

The child should be put to bed while still awake, and a parent should stay by his side until he falls asleep.

Little by little, parents should place themselves further away from the child, or spend less time at his side. This way, the baby will gradually acquire the habit of falling asleep on his own, without needing company.

There are infinite sleeping methods and specialists offer a wide variety of advice. However, the most important thing is that parents are flexible enough to alternate between one method or another if needed.

“The fading method is a midpoint between the previous two. The goal is to teach the child to calm himself down, but in a more gradual way”

Some of these techniques can work with one child and not for another. It’s a matter of seeing what works and not getting overwhelmed. Sooner or later, you’ll see the results you are seeking.

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