Sleep Training Your Toddler

I’m. So. Tired.

It’s the mantra of many parents of babies and toddlers, especially those who won’t sleep through the night. And there are a ton of opinions on sleep training your munchkin, so picking a method can be very overwhelming. To help you sort through them, we compare three of the more common methods, complete with who invented them and what book to buy if you want to learn more.

  • Pick up, Put down: Tracy Hogg, RN., Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
    Get your baby ready for bed—fed, clean, and comfy—and put him in his crib while he is sleepy but not asleep. Say goodnight and leave the room. If he cries, return and pick him up immediately. Once he is comforted (but not yet asleep) put him back down. Repeat as necessary. The goal of this method is to teach your child to put himself to sleep with minimal assistance, while also minimizing tears. It can take a lot of picking up and putting down before baby actually falls asleep, especially at first, so keep that in mind when using this method.
  • Ferberizing (also sometimes called Cry It Out): Dr. Richard Ferber, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
    Get baby ready for bed and put him in the crib while sleepy but awake. Say goodnight and leave the room. If he cries, return after a certain amount of time (Ferber offers suggestions for how long to wait, both minimum and maximum, for each night) but do not pick him up. Rather, pat him and use comforting words and tones to try to calm him. After a minute or two, leave again—even if your baby is still crying. Repeat this process as often as necessary, but waiting a little bit longer to go in each time until you reach the maximum wait-time for that night. The goal of this method is to teach your baby to put himself to sleep without help, which should also mean that he can go back to sleep if he wakes up in the night or prematurely from a nap.
  • Attachment parenting: Dr. William Sears, The Baby Sleep Book
    Every baby is different, and this method encourages parents to take their children’s cues in order to figure out what is best for them as individuals, and to recognize that children will sleep through the night when they are ready. Sears encourages parents to co-sleep with their baby (safely, of course—never co-sleep without researching proper co-sleeping), and to rock, nurse, or whatever else works until your baby falls asleep. The goal of this method is to encourage the creation of positive associations with sleep by helping your baby feel secure at nighttime.

If none of those options felt comfortable to you (or if you have tried all of them with no success) here are some other sleep-training options out there:

So now that you have some names and methods to research, plus a brief synopsis on three of the methods out there, it is time to take the next step and finally get some sleep!

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