Sleep Training: The Methods
When you start your journey to sleep training your child, the first question you will get when you speak to another parent is: What method are you using?
Now you might be thinking, why is a sleep consultant giving away all of her secret methods? Oh I'm not, these methods are widely known, you can Google sleep training methods and these methods pop up- it's nothing new. My work as a sleep consultant is to help you figure out what method will work best for you and your family, help you implement it with consistency, and guide you through the process with expertise and experience.
Cry-it-out, Ferber, Chair, PUPD, Extinction, timed checks, sleep lady shuffle, check and console, interval method, shush-pat, fading... are you overwhelmed? I know I am! There are many different types of methods (as you can see) and picking the one that works best for you and your family can be a big decision. Let me break it down into 3 different categories to help you understand what might work for you. These categories all revolve around the parental level of involvement.
*Let me just add before we get into this; no matter what anyone tells you, there is NO such thing as a 'no cry sleep solution.' When you are sleep training your child, they are learning a new skill, sometimes learning a new skill can be frustrating- how does a child express or communicate that frustration? They fuss, they whine, they cry. This does not mean they are in distress or enduring trauma... but that is for a different blog...
High Involvement: This would be something like the Chair Method, Pick-up Put down, Sleep Lady Shuffle, fading. All of these methods will involve you (the parent) being present for the sleep training process and gradually being removed. This type of method would be ideal for those who were previously co-sleeping, transitioned to a toddler bed at an early age, or those who just really want to be with their child for most of the training process.
Pros: You get to be with your child. You get to see that they are fine every step of the way. You get to work gradually through, which could result in less protesting.
Cons: These types of methods can take much longer to implement. Your presence can be too stimulating and actually slow the process down. Since you are in the room with your child, these types of methods are very hard to keep consistent. You may have to implement a less involved method in the end to achieve your goals.
Moderate Involvement: This would be something like the 'Ferber Method,' timed checks, check and console. These types of methods involve a period of waiting before you check in on your child to give them the opportunity to fall asleep independently. This type of method would be ideal for a parent who has other children in the home but wants to be more involved in the training process. You can go in to check after a period of time, but between checks you can tend to your other children.
Pros: This method usually achieves results a bit faster. You get to still be involved in the process and check in with your child throughout. There is a clear and distinct timing used, which can ease some anxieties.
Cons: Any involvement from you, if it is short like with these methods, may actually irritate your child- they think- wait- why did you come in if you're not going to stay?! This method may also involve more protesting at first than a more high involvement method, but could result in less overall protesting.
No Involvement: This would be something like Extinction or 'Cry It Out' (I hate that name...) These types of methods involve giving your child the space they need to fall asleep independently with no checks after being put down for naps or the night. This type of method would be good for a parent who has tried a more high involvement method but are finding that any kind of check is making the situation worse.
Pros: This method typically yields the fastest results. It could be argued that this method sees the least amount of protesting as the training process is usually the shortest duration. There is the highest amount of consistency for this method as the directions and plan are VERY straight forward.
Cons: You are not in the room with your child during training. You will most likely experience more protesting on the first few nights than with a higher involvement method. Once you begin using this method, it is very confusing to go back to a higher involvement method, so if you are on the fence, using a higher involvement method would be the ideal first choice.
The question I get asked most often at the end of a consult is: 'What method would YOU use?' I have used many different methods with my kids, and they have all responded differently, so that's something we really need to flesh out together. Do I have a preference? Not really. All these methods, when implemented consistently, will yield similar results. The only thing that is a MUST is that the family needs to feel like they can be 100% consistent with the plan, so if that means more involvement, great, if it means less involvement, great. I am with you and whatever you decide, and if I'm honest, I usually have a pretty good idea where we will land.
Just know that sleep training can be very personal. This is a decision based in your parenting style, your goals, and your child's temperament. The main focus I have with Kaleidoscope Sleep is that ALL of those points of view are considered, uplifted, and respected when we are working together. I realize the privilege I have in being let into your bubble for our time together, and I am there to be your number one supporter in the process.
So does that clear things up a bit? Do you feel more confident going into the training process? Do you need more support as you implement? You know where to find me!