When it comes to sleep training, there are hundreds of methods and millions of opinions. What is the “right” way to get your child to sleep? First of all, I recommend you approach this from a different angle. What is the right way to get you to sleep? Ultimately, your little one will follow the method that suits you best, and she will feel happy and supported if you are well rested. Think of it as sleep training for you. Below are a few of the most common methods and MY opinions on them. I want to emphasize that these are MY opinions through MY own experience and they come from a parent who had to work full-time. I found that it wasn’t just one of these methods that worked for us, but a combination of them. In other words, skip the album and go for the mixed tape.
Some things to note before getting started:
#1 - Even the best sleepers will have sleepless nights and even the worst sleepers can learn how to sleep.
#2 - Whatever your situation, make a plan. When your little one inevitably rebels against the method of your choice, make sure you know what your next move is going to be, because at 3am you are about as rational in your thinking as a cat with tape on its feet.
#3 - EVERYONE needs sleep. You are going to be more efficient as a parent and member of the human race if you can keep your eyes open long enough to catch your nocturnal offspring before she scales the chimney.
THE FAMILY BED (CO-SLEEPING) Championed by hippies, helicopter moms, the emotionally needy, and Alicia Silverstone.
Recommended for: Those with no need for a schedule
What is it? Practice in which babies and young children sleep close to one or both parents, as opposed to in a separate room.
Upsides: You don’t ever have to get up!!! You, Brian Wilson, and your baby can lounge in bed all day somewhere between slumber and sleep. You won’t have to rejoin the world until your child requires solid foods.
Downsides: If co-sleeping continues well into the first year, you run the risk of your child being dependent on you to fall asleep, thus not allowing you to return to a social or romantic life and forcing you to change your sleep patterns to match theirs. Forget wine nights with friends and settle for quickies in the pantry.
Check Out: Beyond the Sling: A Real Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way by Mayim Bialik, PhD
NO CRY METHOD Used by Marilyn Manson and the creator of Gangnam style.
Recommended for: Vampires and masochists
What is it? Advocates for parents to lull and sooth their baby to sleep in order to avoid the fear and negative sleep associations that, this theory claims, can develop when a child is put to sleep alone.
Upsides: You get to judge the Cry It Out parents for being cruel and the Co-sleepers for being creepy. Your little one experiences a peaceful transition into sleep and his future is full of rainbows and unicorns, AND you get to hop in and out of bed throughout the evening to quickly replace the pacifier, breastfeed, or lull!
Downsides: This can be an extremely laborious process that can lead to varying results. This method is unrealistic for working parents or anyone that wants to parent with the umbilical cord detached. Imagine working the night shift for several months and only being able to sleep while waiting in the drive-thru line.
Check Out: The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley
CRY IT OUT (CIO) Used by Hillary Clinton on Bill after the 2000 election.
Recommended for: Those who strive to have a work-baby-life balance and some semblance of a schedule
What is it? Approach that lets a baby cry for a specified period of time, offering comfort at regular intervals, in an effort to teach her how to self-sooth and fall asleep on her own.
Upsides: Better quality sleep for the whole family and your baby learns how to put him/herself to sleep! While the CIO method may appear to be a type of cruel and unusual punishment, its results are indisputable AND it works quickly. This means you can have a relative, a babysitter, or even your pet put your little one to bed while you’re out reconnecting with the friends that remind you of your award-winning personality and distract your from your breast leakage.
Downsides: Requires an enormous amount of resolve. This can be agonizing at the beginning. Hearing your bundle of joy scream until there’s no noise is no parent’s idea of fun. If you can survive what is actually a short amount of auditory torture and come out the other side emotionally intact, then you will reap the benefits. This method sometimes requires you to wash, rinse, and repeat as it doesn’t always stick with round one.
Check out: Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, MD and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD
My friend said her baby slept through the night after just two weeks. What am I doing wrong?
Your friend is a liar. Find new friends.
When can I start instituting a bedtime regime?
A routine can start whenever you are ready. However, the right time to get your bundle of joy to sleep 8 solid hours varies depending on the baby. Most online information says 3-4 months old. Be sure to check with your pediatrician to make sure you are both ready.
We’ve tried to let our little one cry it out but just can’t seem to do it. Any suggestions?
Will using the Cry It Out method turn my child into an animal torturer?
The jury is still out on this one, but we haven’t found any known connections between sleep training methods and aptitude to torture animals. All adolescent animal torturers are equal part co-sleepers and solo sleepers. If this is a principal concern, I suggest making a choice between the kid or the pet. It’s worth noting that it is harder to leave a toddler in a box outside Kroger than a pet—mostly because toddlers refuse to stay in the box.
In closing, do some reading. The likelihood of your little one hitting a crime spree at 14 because you did or did not share a bed with him is about as likely as someone naming her child North West Apple Blue Ivy Buttercream. Besides, you will do plenty of other things that will eventually contribute to his delinquency. The biggest thing to remember is to be consistent in your choices.
Written by: Alice