8 05, 2014

Sleep Training Series Part 6: Timed Intervals

May 8th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Training|

Sleep Training with Timed Intervals

Welcome to Part 6 of our sleep training series in which we have covered many aspects shaping a child’s sleep routine that can help families become well-rested and happy. If you haven’t already, please start from the beginning of this series for some very important information.

Today’s article explores another method of sleep training that can work for some families called Timed Intervals. This method goes by many names such as check and console, graduated extinction,  and most often; “Ferberizing” after Richard Ferber’s use of this method in his book “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems”.

How To Minimize Crying

Timed Intervals is a process that would be considered more of a crying method, however as I have stated through out all of these articles, each child is different and will respond uniquely from that of another. Even though it is a crying method, you can definitely minimize the amount of tears when you set your child up with a great daytime routine. I can not emphasize that enough ; if you want to see as little crying as possible, regardless of the method, then your child must have these two elements in place.

The Method

After helping families for over 5 years, I have to say this is one of the most popular choices that parents pick. It provides the child with some support, while also allowing them to settle relatively quickly.

In a nutshell, to use the Timed Interval method, you would do your wind down routine and then lay your child down (awake) in their crib. Then, you would then leave the room whether your child was content or fussing.

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At this point you would begin a series of check ins that would increase in length from check to check and from day to day. When the interval was up, you would only enter their room for a brief period of time. You may begin with shorter or longer intervals, but keep increasing the amount of time between checks for maximum success.

Understanding Responsibilities

If you choose to use the Timed Intervals method then it is important to understand what both you and your child are responsible for.  Your responsibility is to provide your child with a consistent routine and your child’s job is to get themselves to sleep.

Falling asleep is a learnt skill and it does take practice over many sleep cycles, therefore it is unrealistic to expect your child to master independent sleep after one nap or night.

The point of going into the room is not to stop the fussing, but rather just to offer some words or touches of comfort and then leave. The responses used will vary with the age of the child as to not overstimulate them and make the situation worse. Remember with this approach, your job is to provide the consistent opportunity for rest and your child’s role is to get themselves to sleep.

A Few Tips For Success

1. Have a consistent wind down routine in place before starting so that your child begins to understand that a sleep period is approaching.

2. Lie your child down while they’re still awake and their eyes are open.

3. Keep your check-ins short and sweet; only a few minutes to offer some soothing words or touches.

4. When you check on your child, if you choose to use your voice to soothe them, speak calmly and confidently.

5. Increase the interval lengths every 1-2 days, especially if you start with very brief wait periods.

How Long Does It Take To Work?

On average, you will start to see improvements with night time sleep with Timed Intervals within a week. If your child is older and/or you have tried sleep training before and stopped, then often this method will take longer, so remember to give it time. As always, naps usually take a few weeks to solidify.

 Pros and Cons of Timed Intervals

Pros:

  • A middle-of-the road approach
  • This method is an equal blend of being in and out of the room
  • Gradually allows both parents and child to get used to going longer intervals of time without intervening

Cons:

  • For some children, going in and out of the room overstimulates them (A.K.A annoys the heck out of them) and prolongs any crying that may be happening
  • It can be difficult to watch the clock for the next check in the middle of the night
  • Older children often benefit from longer intervals of time, but this might not be comfortable for the parents

 

Timed Intervals can be a nice balance between being in and out of the room, but not every child will respond well to this method. If you’re unsure if this method is right for your child, contact Baby Sleep 101 today so we can determine what is right for your family and put together a customized sleep plan.

Have you ever tried Timed Intervals? Share your experience in the comments below. Or, if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends.

 

29 04, 2014

Sleep Training Series Part 5: Chair Method

April 29th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Training|

The chair method is the next option in our sleep training series.

It is considered gentle or gradual, but yet more structured than a no-cry method or Pick Up/Put Down. Before you begin implementing any sleep training technique, it is important to have the fundamentals in place so that you have success, so please read over all the tips and suggestions in Part One.

If you’re worried about the amount of crying your child is going to do, then reading Part Two will also be important.

What is The Chair Method?

The Chair Method is a great technique for parents who want to be present with their child as they’re learning independent sleep skills, while still having structure. However, it does have its drawbacks and isn’t for everyone. Let’s examine it more closely.

This method consists of gradually weaning your presence from your child’s side by initially sitting right beside them and then slowly lessening your involvement and distancing yourself from their crib or bed.

Depending on your child’s age, temperament, previous sleeping location etc., you would begin this method with either sitting in a chair beside your child or on their bed until they fell asleep. Every few nights you would move further away.

Get more tips for your baby’s sleep with the FREE Sleeping Through The Night Guide.

If your child woke during the night and they didn’t need a feed, you would return to the chair until they once again fell asleep.  The same idea would be repeated for naps as well.

It seems simple enough on paper, but like any sleep training method, it is important to be disciplined with yourself and keep going, even when there are bumps in the road.

This method is definitely not for every parent (or child), but can be successful for those that are committed to seeing it through.

A Few Tips For Success:

1. Write out your plan ahead of time so you know which nights will be the night that you will move further away.

2. Be prepared! Get a comfortable chair as you might be sitting in it for awhile.

3. As the days progress, minimize the amount of soothing that you do. Respect’s your child’s need for time and space to get back to sleep on their own.

4. Keep moving your chair every few nights, don’t get stuck at one spot for too long as it will set progress back when you do move.

5. Try to use your voice before touch to soothe. When you do speak, be calm and confident.

How Long Does It Take To Work?

As with all sleep training, progress will likely be evident sooner at night and naps will take longer to change. On average, this method takes about two weeks to complete, but nap lengths may still fluctuate. The more consistent you are with this method and stick to your plan, the quicker you will see positive changes.

Pros and Cons of The Chair Method

Pros

  • You are with your child as they fall asleep each sleep period and every night waking
  • This method is structured and follows a set sequence
  • This method is simple and uncomplicated

Cons

  • It can be difficult to be in the room with your child and not interact with them
  • If you have other children to tend to,  this method isn’t always suitable, especially  for naps
  • It can be hard to remain consistent during long night wakings

 

The chair method is a great sleep training method for those parents who wish to remain in the room with their child as they learn how to sleep independently. To be successful with this method it’s important to have a solid routine, remain consistent and to keep progressively moving your chair further away.

If  you’re not sure if this method is right for you, contact Baby Sleep 101 today and we can help you determine what is best for your family and put together a customized sleep plan.

To read about the next method, please continue onto Part Six.

Have you ever tried the Chair Method for sleep training? Share your experience in the comments below.

1 04, 2014

Sleep Training Series Part 4: Pick Up and Put Down

April 1st, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Training|Tags: , , , |

Pick Up/Put Down Sleep Training Method

Part Four in our Sleep Training Series offers parents another slower or “gentle” sleep training plan called Pick Up, Put Down or PU/PD for short.

Pick Up, Put Down which is most notably advocated by Tracy Hogg in her book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your Baby, offers parents another alternative to Fading.

Tracy calls this approach “middle of the road” and some people feel it falls under the category of “gentle” methods while others  feel this approach is very confusing for children and frustrating for all involved. But it’s important to decide for yourself.

From my experience, clients choose this method in the hopes of reducing tears. However, we must make sure the child’s daytime routine matches their biological sleep windows, otherwise what results is overtired crying.

Another factor to contemplate is that while this is considered a gentle sleep training method, if your child doesn’t like a lot of engagement, it will result in a lot frustrated tears in the first few days.

Pick Up, Put Down: The Method

Essentially with PU/PD, you would do your wind down routine and lay your child down still awake. (Like all sleep training methods, this is an important component.

If your child wasn’t fussing (or their sounds didn’t make you uncomfortable), you would leave the room. If you’re child began to cry to the point of making you uncomfortable, you follow a “stop, wait and listen” approach.

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If your child continued to get worked up and needed  your help, you would return to the room and pick your child up for a minute or two to settle them down (the pick up part) and then lay them back down (the put down part) still awake. You would repeat this process until your child settled down in their crib and eventually went to sleep.

Tracy advocates this method be used from 4-8 months of age and after that, you wouldn’t pick your child up anymore, but just gently lay them down in the crib each time they sat up.

However, laying a child down every time they sit up can quickly become a game or incredibly frustrating for them, so you would need to reassess if that was happening with your child.

A few tips for success:

1. Ensure your child is on a great sleep routine and bedtime is age appropriate.

2. Start with a soothing wind down or pre sleep routine and implement it before you begin the sleep training part.

3. Make sure you as the parent are well-rested before you begin, so that you have the energy to see it through to the end.

4. Listen to your child’s sounds-if they are just fussing, give them some time and space to see if they can get settled on their own first

5. Enlist in the help of someone else. Tracy even says herself  that this method can be  “darn hard” and can be taxing for one parent to do it solely on their own.

How Long Does It Take to Work?

Pick Up Put Down can take anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks to see consistent changes. On average, I have found it’s closer to 2-3 weeks though. Like any method, your child’s temperament and your ability to maintain the consistency is what will also influence the time line.

Pros and Cons of Pick Up/Put Down

Pro

  • Parent can stay in the room with their child the entire time
  • Parent has the opportunity to comfort their child as they learn how to fall asleep on their own
  • This method has slightly more structure than a ‘no-cry’ method such as Fading, without being too rigid

Cons

  • Is very physically demanding
  • Night wakings can last 2+hours in the beginning with over 100 pick ups and that can be hard to maintain this method consistently
  • Some children get very upset with this method and it causes much frustration for both parent and child
  • If you have other children to tend to during nap time, this method is hard to do consistently
  • Can be confusing to a parent exactly when they should be picking their child up and for how long

Pick Up Put Down is a gradual method that can be a nice alternative for a parent looking for a more slower approach, but with progress becoming  evident a little bit sooner than the Fading approach.

However, like all methods there are pros and cons to it and you need to evaluate if this method suits your child’s personality and one that they will respond to well. If you are looking for another method, please continue reading and check out Part Five in this sleep training series.

If you’re not sure if this method is right for your child, Baby Sleep 101 is always here to help you assess your child’s sleep problems and come up with a plan that will help you see success with your goals.

Remember to download your free sleep guide here as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 02, 2014

No-Cry Sleep Training

February 18th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Training|

No-Cry Sleep Training

Are you interested in using a no-cry sleep training method? The following article will help to guide you in implementing it.

This is the next installment of this sleep training series, and here we’ll explore  a no-cry (or “less cry” as I like to refer to it) method that is available to parents.

In Part One I went over what you need to have in place before starting any sleep training, and in Part Two, I discussed what you need to understand about the protest crying that happens when you change expectations. If you haven’t read these two articles, please read them first as they contain important information.

No-Cry Sleep Training Method: Fading

First, I want you to go into this method with eyes wide open: there is generally still some protesting involved. And the protesting can be general fussing, to full out, hard crying.

Tears represent an emotion, and it’s usually frustration. It’s very rare to not have a baby express their frustration, annoyance, tiredness, etc., without tears.

As parents, I believe we shouldn’t send the message that tears, or working through frustrations, are bad. Therefore, if you pick this method, think of it as a gradual, reduce-tears-as-much-as-possible, method.

The Fading method is ideal for parents who are truly committed to a less-cry sleep training method, as they generally take a long time and require a lot of patience. (As a side note; I do not recommend any formal sleep training until the baby is at least 4 months old, or 4 months from expected due date for preemies).

This doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything before this time to help shape a healthy sleep routine, (you can, see my suggestions here). But there are many biological changes that happen around the 4 month mark, so it’s ideal to wait until this point or later.

Fading involves slowly and very, very gradually removing whatever sleep prop is inhibiting solid sleep; usually pacifier, breast or bottle. On the first day, a parent will repeatedly offer the sleep association but withdraws it when the child is almost asleep.

 

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If the child cries, the parent would offer it again and repeat the process until the child falls asleep. Each day after that, the parent would remove the sleep association a little bit sooner.

No-cry sleep training methods can go by a few names, but they employ this general guideline of gradually withdrawing whatever sleep association the child has.

The point is to use the sleep prop less, and remove it sooner each sleep period, so that the child slowly learns how to fall asleep on their own.

 6 Tips for No-Cry Sleep Training Success

In order to be successful with this technique, consider the following points

1. Before you begin, set up some structure and guidelines for yourself ahead of time so you have a clear plan for reducing your involvement.

2. Make sure bedtime is very early for the next few weeks.

3. Write your plan down so that you have a specific goal to follow each day.

4. Understand your child’s temperament as this will influence the timeline.

5. Once you begin, be prepared to be very consistent EACH and EVERY sleep period.

6. Have realistic expectations. This is a very gradual method, and does require patience. If you expect to see results after one night, then you will be frustrated  and not likely to follow through.

How Long Does It Take to Work?

In terms of length it takes to start seeing significant progress, this method can take 3 weeks to 3 months. This doesn’t mean everything will be perfect, it means that with consistency of implementation, you will begin to consistent progress. Please note that nap training usually takes longer to fix than night sleep does, so stay the course with the naps for longer.

Your child’s temperament is really important with a very gradual method like this. One parent who has been blessed with a very go-with-the-flow type of child will see progress quicker than a parent of a child with a more persistence temperament type. It doesn’t mean that both parents can’t be successful, but it does mean that the second parent will have to keep at this method much longer.

The age of the child will also influence the progress. This method usually moves quicker for younger babies as the older ones have a longer history of falling asleep with the sleep association and can be more persistent.

Pros and Cons of No-Cry Sleep Training

Pros

  • This is a very gradual method which may help to cut back on the amount of tears.
  • A parent can be with their child every step of the way.
  • It is often viewed as the most gentlest sleep training method possible and is suitable for parents who practice Attachment Parenting philosophy but are wanting to help their child learn how to fall asleep independently.

Cons

  • Not suitable for certain personality types and older babies
  • Since this is such a gradual method,  it is hard to maintain consistently.
  • Although it’s referred to a ‘no-cry sleep training method’, that can be misleading as some children may still cry out of frustration as the sleep association is being offered each time but in reduced amounts.
  • Parents can become frustrated with the lack of progress and this may lead to quitting before success happens.
  • Some kids become enraged with their sleep prop repeatedly being offered and removed

As you can see this method (as all methods) work better at certain ages, different personality types and for different parents. If this method doesn’t seem like a good fit for your family, continue onto Part Four in this sleep training series.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please consider a consultation. Part of my job as a sleep consultant is to assist you with picking the most suitable method, so if you’re not sure, I’m here to help.  Please contact me at joleen@babysleep101.com .

Have you ever tried a no-cry sleep training method? How did it go? Join the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page and tell us about it or join in on one of the weekly  (and FREE) Q & A sessions!

P.S. Remember to download your FREE sleep guide here. HELP YOUR CHILD SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, 5 TIPS EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW.

28 01, 2014

Sleep Training Series Part 2: Understanding Crying

January 28th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Training|Tags: , , , , |

Welcome to Part Two in our Sleep Training series. If you haven’t already done so, please read part one as it contains very important steps that you will want to implement before sleep training.

Baby Sleep Training and Crying: An Emotion to Be Supported

Many times parents come to me, at their end of their rope. They are beyond tired, frustrated, constantly arguing with their spouse and impatient with their children.

They know that their lack of sleep isn’t letting them be the best parent they could be, but they have put off any sleep training because they are worried their child will cry.

Sometimes this can translate in a parent’s mind that their child will feel abandoned or scared. But crying doesn’t necessarily mean lonely or fear, it can also mean they are angry and exhausted. It’s important to have the appropriate response to each circumstance.

If your family is so exhausted that you can’t even function, then you need to make changes.

We do need to be realistic though; you are changing the way they have fallen asleep for months or years. Adults rarely joyfully embrace change, so why would we expect our little ones to?

In general your child isn’t going to be happy about it, especially when they’re tired. But I don’t want you to be scared of their emotions. Protesting, being frustrated, voicing complaints is normal.

Supporting it, without suppressing it, is healthy.

We want to show our children that we are there for them, that they can express themselves and we are there to support them through their learning.

Cry Me A River

So this is the big issue that makes sleep training so hard for all of us.

Everyone wants to know: How-Much-Will-My-Child-Cry?

If you’re wondering why I’m not saying “if your child will cry”, it’s because, in the vast majority of cases, a child cries at some point during sleep training. Of course, there are some children who don’t cry at all, or only fuss, but they are in the minority.

It would be great if I could promise you no tears in every situation, but that’s just not realistic. Saying that there is a sure fire ‘no-cry’ sleep training method is misleading.

Crying When Tired

Let’s think about the crying a child does during sleep training from another perspective.

Let’s say you are in a foreign country and everyone speaks a different language. You have no idea what they’re saying, but you do know that they’re saying something. Would you just assume the worst and fear they are plotting your demise?

Hopefully not.

You would probably use the context of the situation, their facial expressions, body language, your location and other factors to make a reasonable judgment call in regards to what they’re trying to communicate to you.

The goes for your child when he or she is crying. You need to use the context of the situation and make the appropriate call as to what they’re saying.

If they have a sleep debt from being massively overtired, and you are not longer rocking/holding/bouncing/feeding to sleep/replacing the soother a million times a night/driving all over town and trying to avoid red lights (think the movie Speed), then it’s reasonable to assume that they are crying because they’re frustrated. I often joke with my parents and say they are likely swearing at you in baby language. 😉

Sleep Training Does Not Equal Bad Parenting

You are not a bad parent for deciding it’s time to help your child learn healthy sleep strategies.

Every family is different and whether you want to start before any bad habit emerge or your ‘tools’  have stopped working, when you feel it’s time to change the situation, do it with confidence. Confidence in both your child and yourself.

You are not making your child cry, you are allowing them to express themselves.

You are helping them to learn a new skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

You are being empathetic and understanding that they are frustrated, tired and just want to sleep, while giving them time and opportunity to practice these new skills.

You trust and believe in your child that they can learn new habits.

Sleep is one of the fundamental building blocks of human health. Not being well-rested is unhealthy for both your child and yourself.

Crying does not lead to health issues, but sleep deprivation does.

When you remove the sleep props or sleep associations that your child relied on to fall asleep, they will understandably be upset. But by setting up a great sleep routine, making sure your child is napping well, and keeping bedtime early, you will help to miminze the amout of frustration crying that your child does. 

Worries, And Fears and Tears, Oh My!

But of course, everyone worries. I understand because I too, was also concerned when I first contemplated sleep training.

I had read every sleep training-shaming, mom-scaring, studies-out-of-context-taking, article out there. I thought I was a bad mom for not being able to handle the sleep deprivation. And so for a long time, I allowed my fear to override logic and health needs.

Fear can stop us in our tracks before we can even take a step forward. Our brains go into overdrive and imagine worse-case scenarios.  But it’s important to not deny your child quality sleep and therefore optimal health, because of what may happen. Often, parents’ worries far exceeds the reality and a child doesn’t cry for as long or as hard as they thought.

It may ease your mind to know, as it did mine, that all the research shows that sleep training is safe and effective.

It is not child abuse, it’s not selfish and it does not lead to any long term (or short term) damage. (However, chronic sleep deprivation does.)

Want to help your baby sleep better at night, while minimizing crying? Download this FREE sleep guide. 

But what parent loves to hear their child cry? None of us. However, crying happens. Along with diaper blow outs and gross-smelling spit ups. It is unrealistic, not to mention extremely stressful, to entertain the idea of never allowing your baby to cry.

Crying, especially when overtired is an emotion and a need for sleep.

And remember, you will minimize the amount of crying by following a great sleep routine before sleep training.

But Really, How Much Crying Will There Be?

So back to the main question-how long will the crying last? We’ve heard it before, but it needs to be said again: every child is different.  There are many factors that influence how long a method starts to work such as:

  • age
  • method
  • personality
  • consistency of parent implementation
  • quality of day routine
  • sleep debt amount
  • how many attempts at sleep training were previously tried

These factors will all influence how long they sleep training will take, which makes it difficult to provide exact answers on the time a child takes to learn new sleep habits.

I can however, offer you an estimate of how long each method takes to start seeing change and we will look at those in the future posts of this series. You can begin with Part Three: No-Cry Sleep Training.

Changing sleep habits is hard work, especially in the beginning, but when it’s time for you to make that change, know that your child is very capable of learning how to sleep more solidly on their own.

Want more tips to help your baby sleep better? Download the FREE  guide; Sleeping Through The Night, 5 Tips Every Parent Needs to Know.

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