Sleep Training Is a Difficult and Frustrating Task
Have you heard those horror stories of the difficult baby who just can not sleep? The baby who wakes up 20 times a night? That was OUR baby and we all suffered for over a year. We searched the internet and bought books to try to find a solution for sleep training our baby. Nothing seemed to be able to get our baby to sleep. We were frustrated, exhausted and desperate. Then as if by magic we found the solution for sleep training our baby. In addition, we have found a solution to keep him from waking early in the morning. So, now our baby sleeps very regularly from "bed time" to "wake up time". It is very rare that he will wake up in between. We have the luxury of regular sleep and can really cherish the wonderful nights sleep that we are enjoying. Below I will share our secrets that we learned for sleep training our baby.
(Thanks to Kekka for the use of the photo on Creative Commons License)
Co-sleeping is a problem if you are trying to sleep train your baby
In the first months of our baby's life, we did co-sleeping. Our baby did not sleep in our bed, he slept in a bed which was attached to ours. This made night time breast feeding easier for my wife.
However, our baby was waking all night long and keeping us awake. We would put him down to sleep at 8pm and he would wake up every 15 or 20 minutes after that. A long stretch of sleep for him would be 1 hour and that was rare. We would dread going to the bedroom with him because it meant no sleep all night long.
Eventually, we moved him into his own bedroom. That was the most important step we made in sleep training our baby. Sleep training is very difficult for a baby who can walk if the baby is
* not sleeping in a crib (baby cot) and
* sleeping in the same room with mom and dad.
To begin sleep training a baby, the baby must have a crib and ideally the crib should not be in the same room as the parents.
(Thanks to Kainr for the use of the photo on creative commons license:
Dr Ferber Is Perhaps the Most Well Known Expert On Sleep Training
Dr. Richard Ferber is one of the leading experts on sleep training babies. Ferber's methods are controversial. Many parents love Ferber's approach as can be seen by reading the reviews. 550 Amazon customers have reviewed this book and the vast majority give the book five stars. The Ferber approach did not really work for us. Instead we used a "modified Ferber approach" as you will read below.
Cry It Out Is Controversial, Watch What Other Parents Think About Cry It Out
Cry It Out Is A Successful Sleep Training Method For Many Parents
Many parents are very, very happy with Dr. Richard Ferber's "Cry It Out" sleep training solution. But many parents, like us, just do not have the strength to apply it as Ferber suggests.
Richard Ferber's Cry It Out Method is proven, tested and it works. But it is challenging. Here is A Summary Of The Ferber Sleep Training Method:
* Create a ritual of putting the baby to bed (sing songs, read books, kiss everyone, etc). Perform the same bed time ritual every night.
* Put the baby to bed and leave the room
* When the baby cries, return to comfort the baby. But each time wait a progressively longer period before returning. So, for example on the first night return after 1 minute the first time, then 2 minutes the second time, 3 minutes the third time, etc.
* Each night, wait longer and longer to return.
* Never pick the baby up.
We tried the Ferber method one night and gave up. We just did not have the strength to listen to our baby cry. He seemed in panic and he needed us. We just could not stay away. Either we failed the Ferber method or the Ferber method failed us.
Dr Bill Sears Is A Nationally Recognized Pediatrician
Many people love Dr Bill Sears. Dr Sear's advice is practical and respected. Watch what Dr Sears offers for baby sleep suggestions.
We discovered a new approach to the Ferber Method
After months of exhaustion and no luck with the Ferber method we stumbled upon a modification to the Ferber Method.
* We did a bed-time ritual as recommended by the Ferber method.
* We put our baby to sleep, left the room and NEVER RETURNED INTO THE ROOM.
* If our baby would cry we would comfort him, FROM OUTSIDE THE ROOM.
* We would open the door put our heads inside, and say "Lay down and go to sleep" or "Everything Is Ok" or "Papa is right here".
* For the first nights, one of us would sit in a chair just outside his door and sing to our baby. We would read a magazine or work on the computer. We would open the door as often as necessary to comfort him and tell our baby to lie down and go to sleep. The good news is that our baby would lie down without crying and eventually go to sleep. Why not? Mama or Papa were there, just outside the door.
* Some nights, he would wake up and we would return to his room, stick our head in the door and say "everything is OK, go back to sleep". He always did.
* Everything was allowed to keep him calm, except once we left his room at night, we did not allow ourselves to enter his room until the next morning.
Within 3 or 4 nights, our baby stopped waking up during the evening and began to sleep longer and longer until he was sleeping through the night. We had achieved partial success!! All without the stress and tears of the Ferber method. Our approach was easier for our baby and more acceptable for our parental values.
But the next problem was that he would wake up some where between 5am and 7am and start calling us. Nothing we could do would put him back to sleep when he had decided that it was time to wake up. Our next problem was how to get our baby to sleep until "wake-up time"?????
Our Sleep Training Advice
Once you leave the baby's room at night:
- Stay by the door until baby is asleep
- Comfort baby from outside the door
- Stick your head inside as necessary
- Do not physically re-enter the room
Sleep training: offer security with no incentive to awaken
Why do we think our approach to sleep training is the best way to sleep train a child:
* If you are entering room and offering the a bottle or hugs or caresses then this is an incentive for the baby to call you. You are rewarding baby for waking and crying with hugs, kisses or drinks. This is their reason for waking. Your hugs, kisses and bottles have created the sleeping pattern of night time waking.
* If you do not enter the baby's room, they have no incentive to call you. They get nothing out of it and have no reason to wake up.
* If you are outside of the door when they call, they have nothing to be afraid of. Mama or Papa is there. They do not know if you are always there or not. But if they call you and you stick your head in or if they can hear you singing outside of their door, you have offered your baby the security that they need to sleep, but without an incentive to wake up.
* With no reason to cry and no incentive to wake up, your baby will slowly become more secure about sleeping and will sleep longer and longer through the night.
( Thanks to Photo Booth for the use of the photo on creative commons license)
A Baby Sleeping Is The Dream Of Tired Parents
Here Are Other Ideas For Sleep Training A Baby
Use A Baby Clock To Teach Your Baby When To Wake Up
The next step in sleep training our baby was to teach him when it was time to wake up. Again, this will work best if your baby is in a crib. We bought a "baby clock". What is a baby clock? It is a clock that is easily understandable by a baby.
We live in Europe and here we have a baby clock which features a "Yellow Sun" during the day time and a "Blue Star" at night. We started using the clock before our baby was two years old and it was a failure. He simply did not understand the concept. But around two years of age, our baby learned to understand the difference in colors. As soon as he could differentiate "Blue" from "Yellow' we tried the baby clock again and it was a success!! Here is how he got it to work.
We set the clock so that it would change from "Blue Star" to "Yellow Sun" at 6am. We told our boy to call us when he saw the yellow sun. Every morning at 6am, he would shout out "Yellow Sun" and we would run to his bed and pick him up. We gradually extended the time by 15 or 20 minutes every day. If we set it too late, he would not have the patience to wait and would begin to cry. We would tell him to go back to sleep and wait for the yellow sun from outside his door. Eventually, we were able to set the sun at 7 or 8 am (we have two settings and we change it depending on whether it is a school/work day or if it is a weekend). Every morning he waits until he sees the yellow sun to call us and every time he calls us (and if it is Yellow Sun) we are always IMMEDIATELY there.
There are some challenges with the baby clock. The clock can be difficult to set, but you do get used to it. Also, if the baby gets his hands on the clock, he can easily reset it. So, it is best to keep the clock up and out of reach.
But when the baby gets the idea of how the baby clock works, it is a life saver for tired parents.
Caution: Remember that if you use the baby clock, you are entering an agreement with your baby. You are saying to the baby, "wait until the clock says it is wake up time to call us". Your side of the agreement is "When it is wake up time, Mama or Papa will be there". DO NOT make the mistake of breaking the deal. If you let your baby wait for you when it is wake up time, why should they respect their part of the agreement? Also, do not set the clock too late. No baby is going to wait until 10am to call you.
This baby clock can be used to train baby to sleep later
This baby clock is available in the USA and can be used to train a baby to sleep. The warning says "Not for children under 3 years old due to choking hazards." This is not the only reason to keep the clock out of the reach of children. If they get their little hands on it, they can reset the time. So, put it up high where baby can see it but can not touch it.