Sleep is one of those things that we need to do, but it isn't always easy. If you're reading this post, I'm guessing you've been having trouble sleeping due to the newborn baby that enjoys sleeping in your arms but definitely not at nighttime.
Then, just as you try to figure out what's happening with your babies sleep habits, things change again and you find themselves even more confused about what's actually happening. There's also a lot of jargon around the topic of sleep which does not help matters!
In this post, I'll break down some common terminology and how it relates to your sleep troubles—and maybe give you some tips for getting better rest.
Sleep training is a method of teaching children to sleep on their own. It's not the same as letting a child cry, but it can sometimes be effective for some children, while being ineffective for others.
There are varying interpretations of what it is, how you do it, and whether it is okay or not. Its certainly a hot debated topic!
There are many different methods of sleep training, including but not limited too:
- The Cry It Out Method: also known as extinction, full extinction, or CIO for short. With this method, parents take their baby through a bedtime routine, cuddle with them and give them a kiss goodnight, and then leave the room. If the baby cries, the parent does not respond. Eventually, the baby tires themselves out from crying or self-soothes back to sleep. Many parents find this method uncomfortable
- The Fading Method: also known as “camping out,” encourages parents to stay in their child’s room until they fall asleep. Parents can do this by standing, or by sitting in a chair in their child’s room, a variation known as the Chair method. In our house this still happens nightly and our children call it "minutes".
- The Ferber Method: similar to Cry It Out, but more gradual, hence its nicknames of “graduated extinction". For the first few nights, the parents immediately return whenever the baby cries, ensuring they’re calm before leaving the room again. Then parents gradually increase the amount of time they let the baby cry before reentering the room, eventually reaching a point where the baby self-soothes.
- The “No Tears” Method: also known as the gentle sleep training method, focuses on helping your baby learn to sleep on their own without any crying. Focusing on a consistent bedtime routine. Gentle Sleep Training methods are less emotionally stressful since they involve no crying, but they take longer to be successful.
- The Check and Console Method: A variation of the Ferber method, the Check and Console method encourages parents to check on their baby and console them before they even start to cry. The first few nights, parents may leave the room and enter a minute or two later to give reassurance. These intervals gradually increase so takes a long time.
Co-sleeping is a practice where parents and their children sleep in close proximity to each other. This can be practiced in a number of ways, but is most commonly done by placing the child's crib next to the bed or bedside. For some families, co-sleeping means that one parent sleeps on the floor next to their sleeping baby's crib; for others, it means sharing a bed with their infant.
While some may worry that it's unsafe for babies and toddlers to sleep with their parents (or vice versa), done correctly it results in better quality sleep for everyone. Many parents choose this method because they feel it helps them bond better with their children and provide them with comfort when necessary; others do so simply because their children sleep better and longer when co-sleeping, which in the early days is a huge lifeline.
If you're interested in trying out co-sleeping but don't want your baby in your bed, consider a co-sleeper. It attaches easily enough onto any standard mattress frame without taking up too much room and means your baby has a dedicated space right next to you.
Sleep aids: These devices generate sounds to aid in babies' sleep. Some may have crying sensors and the sounds they emit are tailored to soothe a baby's cries. They play nature sounds like rain, ocean waves, and birds chirping.
Noise machines: These are similar to sleep aids except that they don't have crying sensors—they're just static noise machines designed to help children fall asleep who otherwise struggle without some kind of white noise playing in their ears!
You might notice a change in your child’s sleep pattern around the age of 4-6 months. Before this time, babies are theoretically able to sleep for longer stretches at night and for short periods during the day. This is usually linked to developmental stages but if you notice any changes to your babies sleeping patterns and there have been no other changes (teething, temperature, jabs) its most likely a sleep regression.
As you can see, there is a lot of jargon around this topic, and we hope that we have helped to clear up some of the confusion. If you still need more information or advice on how to get your child to sleep better, please contact a sleep consultant but ensure their style aligns with your values and style of parenting, you need to feel comfortable with the process. Good Luck, wishing you lots of peaceful nights!