Rookie parents are often faced with a host of dilemmas and issues when it comes to taking care of their baby. One of those dilemmas has to do with the long age question: should one sleep train their baby and not respond to their baby’s cries? Which sleep training method should one use?
With the belief that sleep training can cause emotional damage to the baby, most parents, if not all opt to avoid it. Others just cave to the baby’s cries. Whatever the reason behind the uncertainty of the sleep training method, it remains a fervently debated topic.
Both the opposing and supporting groups seek to address the issue of whether sleep training is harmful or not. With mounting scientific evidence, this issue can finally be addressed based on facts, instead of misinformation.
So, does sleep training cause harm to the baby? Will it eventually disrupt the child-parent bond that you worked so hard to create? Before we address the above questions, let us first start by defining what sleep training entails.
Sleep training, also known as sleep-teaching, merely entails a method that a parent takes to help the baby learn how to fall and stay asleep. Of course, this entails that the baby will no longer have to depend on the parents to fall asleep. This way, the baby will be able to sleep throughout the night without waking.
Now, is sleep training harmful? Recent research confirms that sleep training is not harmful to the baby at all. However, regardless of the sleep training, depends on how the training is administered.
Parents are advised not to let the baby cry for long periods of time. According to a pediatrician at the Indiana University Health, Kimberly Schneider, M.D., letting the baby cry indefinitely could cause the baby to experience high amounts of stress.
Instead, parents are advised to check on the baby for short intervals until he/she falls asleep. By checking on the baby, you are letting the baby know that you are still around. Moreover, you get to make sure that there’s nothing seriously wrong with the baby. This way, you get to gently nudge your child towards learning how to sleep alone.
That said, which sleep training method should one use? Which one is more effective?
There at least two main sleep training approaches that parents can use. They include gradual extinction and bedtime fading. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.
This method entails that the parent ignores the child’s cries by leaving him/her alone to sleep for short time intervals.
Below, are a few steps that involve the use of bedtime fading:
Try and stick to these activities every day before bedtime. By doing this, the child can associate these calming and positive activities with bedtime. This way, you can help encourage your child to look forward to bedtime.
Remember, do not rush this bedtime fading technique. Make the time changes subtly and be consistent until you’ve reached the desired bedtime.
Between the two main methods of sleep training, which one is the most effective? As a parent, it’s only natural to want the best for your baby. However, numerous research confirms that there is no single approach that is more effective than the other.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, both methods are effective in helping your baby learn how to sleep and develop a healthy sleep pattern. However, they continued to state that for the sleep training method to work, consistency is key.
Kimberly Schneider, M.D. states that developing a consistent bedtime routine at an early age is essential. According to her, parents should start as early as 6 months. Both approaches can take the gentle approach in guiding the child to sleep.
Trying to sleep train a child that is unwell will not be as effective.
In conclusion, sleep training can help your child develop a healthy sleep pattern while they are young. There are two main sleep training approaches. Each approach is considered to be effective, as long as they are administered in a consistent manner.
Moreover, regardless of the approach being used, parents are advised to be gentle. With the gradual extinction method, parents are advised to check in on the baby for physical and verbal reassurance. Parents should do this at short intervals of at least 10 – 15 minutes until the baby falls asleep.
Are you worried about sleep training your baby? Do you find some success with a certain method or way, and not so much success with another? Please let me know in the comments below how sleep training is going for you!?