Paging Rosie: Get Your Baby to Sleep
In case you missed it, here is a recent post from “Rosie to the Rescue”, my blog for Parents Magazine. Sleeping through the night: four magical words any parent wants to be able to say about her child. However, they’re four words that seem so hard to achieve. This post explores some options in getting there. Don’t miss the rest of the “Rosie to the Rescue” posts, available here.
I think I get asked more sleep-related questions than other type. Sleep is something that makes us parents extremely anxious, not only because we want our wee ones to get enough sleep to help their development, but also so that we get enough Z’s and can be at our most functional, too. (BTW, I write this as I take another gulp of coffee, as we have not yet sleep-trained Vivienne!) Let’s face it, after months of a few hours of sleep a night, none of us are the best parents that we can be.
Still, a lot of parents, including me, have a very hard time doing what’s necessary to get our children to sleep through the night as early as we’d like, and that means doing some form of sleep training. Of course, you don’t have to sleep train, and maybe you have a sleep prodigy (lucky you!). But in my experience, a child won’t start sleeping through the night on his own accord truly, and that means approximately 7pm to 7am, until he’s well into his second year of life, and maybe much later than that. Teaching good sleep habits and the ability to self-sooth so that your baby can put himself to sleep, and fall back asleep if he wakes up in the middle of the night, is extremely important. And while I do find sleep training difficult, I make sure to do it and I am much happier (and so are my kids) for it. You’ve probably heard of the following options, and it’s up to you to decide what’s right for you:
- Gradual Parent Removal Method/Chair Method: The parent puts the child in the crib awake, and sits in a chair close to the crib until he falls asleep. Over seven nights, the chair is moved further back until it’s no longer in the room and the child can self-sooth. You cannot engage with him while in the room.
- Dr. Ferber’s Graduated Extinction Approach/The Progressive Approach: This basically involves putting the child in the crib awake and checking on him in regular intervals until he falls asleep, increasing the intervals each night for seven nights.
- Dr. Weissbluth’s Extinction Method: The child is put in the crib awake and the parents don’t return until morning. This method takes around two to three nights.
I find the earliest possible time you can sleep train is at 4 months, if your baby weighs at least 14 pounds, and of course you have to first make sure that he’s eating enough during the day (24-32 oz milk) so that he doesn’t need milk during the night, which often means that sleep training occurs a little later.
I know people have mixed feeling about CIO but used in this setting for sleep, there really is no strong evidence that it harms our babies, and knowing that the “extinction” method only takes two to three nights, you could all be having sweet dreams sooner than you imagined. That being said, when we sleep train in our household, my husband has to sit on me, as it is not an easy thing to do.
Bottom line: Decide what is best for your family, and be consistent. Sweet dreams.