Sleep Training Methods 101

A Better Rested Family

sleep training

You are ready to sleep train, but the information out there can be overwhelming and discouraging. Sleep training doesn’t need to be so hard!

When focusing on eliminating night wakings and lengthening naps, here are some methods you need to know:

  Cry It Out (CIO) Extinction: Following a soothing bedtime routine, place your baby in his crib awake and leave the room. You then would not go in the room at all until wake time in the morning or a scheduled feed.

  Gradual Checks: Otherwise known as the Ferber Method. Following a soothing bedtime routine, you would place your baby in his crib awake and leave the room. You would return, after a pre-determined amount of time, to soothe and comfort your child. As the method progresses, the intervals become longer and longer.

  The Fade Away: In this method, once you have placed your child in his crib awake, you would sit next to his crib and offer soothing words until he falls asleep. You would provide him physical and verbal comfort instead of feedings. This is a gradual process in which you fade out your presence.

  The Method of Nothing: Yes, this is actually a method! If you are co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, or bouncing on a ball to sleep and it works for you and your family, then that’s okay. It’s when you are doing these things and you and your family aren’t getting the sleep you need to function as a well-rested and happy unit, you may need to switch to one of the above methods.

But how do I choose? When trying to find the best method for your family you need to consider the following:

  Your Temperament: Because every family and situation is different, there isn’t one method or program to use. Parents need to be educated on all methods, and then choose one that they are comfortable using. Consistency is key to success and if you're not comfortable with the method you use, then you won’t be consistent in the process. Set your strengths and limitations, and those of your partner's, and choose a method that you will truly be able to follow through with.

  Your Child's Temperament: While you need a method that matches your parenting philosophy, it’s also very important to choose one that matches your child’s temperament and personality. Unfortunately, it’s not always the same method. You will have more success and see faster results with a sleep training approach that works best with your child’s temperament.

  You Are a Team: You need to sit down with one another and choose a method that you both agree on. You will need the support of one another at certain times throughout the process. There is a better chance of success if you are on the same page.

  Give It Time: Patience everyone! Some kids can take longer than others. No plan is set in stone. Give it at least seven to ten days of consistency before tweaking, if need be.

Alanna McGinn is the mother of three (1 + twins!), Founder and Senior Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC).  When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges and helping them sleep better.  Find Alanna at and on Twitter @GNSleepSite.