As a new parent, you probably loathe nighttime because your newest member of the family will not let you get any sleep. Peaceful nights of uninterrupted sleep seem to be a thing of the past and it may feel like there is no solution to a restless baby. When you hear about sleep training, you mostly hear about “Ferberizing”. But what is Weissbluth sleep training? The author of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, Dr Mark Weissbluth feels that a child’s sleep patterns can indicate his or her general quality of life. He also believes that parents can use routine and consistency to their advantage in improving a child’s sleep habits. This is where the Weissbluth sleep training method comes in. It should be worth noting that this method is usually confused with Ferber sleep training but they are quite different from each other.
Dr Weissbluth posed the Weissbluth Sleep training method with the belief that implementing quality sleep guidance once your baby first comes home will help in preventing various sleep problems in the future. Parents usually think Weissbluth sleep training is ferberizing since both methods call for an extent of crying by the child in an effort to learn how to self-soothe. The difference is that Ferber sleep training involves the parent going into the room to provide comfort to the child after regular intervals. The Weissbluth method, on the other hand, makes use of extinction whereby the parent does not provide any sort of comfort to stop the child from crying and waking during the night. In the Weissbluth method, the parent is instructed to lay the baby down to sleep at night as early as is possible and to keep from going into the baby’s room at all unless it is an emergency. The doctor also advises implementing longer sleep intervals during the night even if it will mean having fewer or shorter naps in the course of the day.
Weissbluth pediatrics strongly believes in high-quality sleep for the baby and Dr. Weissbluth claims that the method produces results faster than ferberizing does. This is because the baby learns that you will not respond to his/her cries more quickly. The Weissbluth approach is only supposed to take 3-4 days while Ferber’s method by comparison may take almost 2 weeks. This method also depends heavily on watching for the baby’s sleep cues and laying him/her down once the baby seems tired. During sleep regressions my son has had, I have employed BOTH techniques and personally I find that the Weissbluth method is more effective. Any parent can benefit from using this method to sleep train their baby because I believe it is a whole holistic approach.
If you are looking to try this method, it is important to seek advice from your pediatrician. This method is not meant to be used on babies younger than 6 months of age because at this age they are still waking up during the night for feeding and changing. The doctor will have to check your baby for any hidden medical conditions that might be keeping the baby awake before him/her is ready to start sleeping alone.
Once you observe signs of sleepiness in the baby, put him/her down in the crib. Some of the signs to watch out for include a lack of alertness, crankiness, or rubbing the eyes so you need to be in tune with your child’s sleepy cues.
You should never feed or rock your baby to sleep when using this method and instead allow him or her to fuss in the crib. A comfort item or a regular routine will help the child fall asleep instead because ‘crutches’ will set up the child to stay awake during the night.
Leave the room without going back in even if your little one is sobbing. You can listen while outside the door without offering any comfort. Your child will go to sleep eventually.
Go with a predictable nap schedule the day after without sacrificing nighttime sleep for daytime sleep. If the baby appears to be alert before the morning nap, you can skip it and go for the afternoon nap instead.
Weissbluth sleep training is essentially a version of crying it out with its own variations to boot and crying it out might not be everyone’s cup of tea. You may be reluctant to listen to your baby crying during the night and not check up on them but the method works! This method supposedly does not possess any physiological effect on your baby and this may help to put your mind at ease. Since self-soothing is involved with this method, it can help to set up your baby for independent sleep while helping to get rid of bad sleep associations developed. It is definitely worth a second look if you are interested.