Baby Sleep Training : No-Tears Method

Can I train my baby to fall asleep without leaving him to cry?

If you don’t like the idea of leaving your baby to cry alone – or you’ve tried cry it out (CIO) methods and they didn’t work for you – you may want to consider a more gradual approach that involves fewer tears.

As with any method, what works for one child might not work for your baby. So figuring out an approach that’s right for your family could take some trial and error.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can turn to experts who have written books on the subject and draw on the experience of other parents. And before you start, you may want to read up on sleep training basics.

What’s the theory and the controversy behind no-tears methods?

Those who favor a no-tears approach believe that bedtime offers an opportunity to connect with your child by developing quiet, cozy nighttime rituals and by quickly responding to your baby’s requests for food and comfort.

Some of these experts think cry it out methods are not good for babies. Pediatrician and “attachment parenting” advocate William Sears devotes an entire chapter of The Baby Sleep Book to a critique of cry it out approaches. Sears, along with no tears advocates such as Elizabeth Pantley (author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution), believes that cry it out techniques can give your child negative associations with bedtime and sleep that could last a lifetime.

Sleep experts who support the cry it out approach (as well as most pediatricians) disagree. They say it isn’t traumatic for babies to cry alone for short periods of time with frequent check-ins by Mom or Dad – and the end result is a well-rested, happier child. They say no tears sleep strategies may cause babies to be overly dependent on comfort from a parent at bedtime, making it harder for them to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.

Practical tips for finding a no tears solution

  • Establish a regular nap schedule. A consistent sleep routine during the daytime helps regulate nighttime sleep.
  • Put your baby to bed on the early side, such as 6:30 or 7 o’clock. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping your baby awake so he’ll be more tired. An overtired baby may actually have a harder time getting to sleep. Some experts say babies who go to bed earlier sleep longer, too.
  • Make changes slowly. If your baby’s on a later schedule, don’t suddenly move bedtime from, say, 9:30 to 7 o’clock. Make bedtime a little earlier each night until you reach the time that seems best for your baby.
  • Find a soothing bedtime routine and stick to it. For example, a bath, then a book, then a lullaby, then bed, at the same time every night.
  • Develop some “key words,” as Pantley calls them, to signal to your child that it’s time for sleep. It could be a simple “ssshhhh” sound or a softly spoken phrase like “It’s sleepy time.” Repeat the sound or phrase when you’re soothing your child to sleep or back to sleep so he’ll associate it with bedtime.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment that’s tailored to your child. Some babies need more quiet and darkness than others. Recordings of soft music or nature sounds or the sound of a gurgling aquarium can be soothing. Make sure the sheets are cozy (warm them with a hot water bottle or a microwavable heating pad, for example, before laying your baby down) and that sleepwear doesn’t chafe or bind. Younger babies may sleep better when swaddled. Don’t overdress your child or overheat the room.
  • Don’t respond to every noise your child makes. Learn to distinguish a real cry from a sleepy whimper. If you’re not sure, it’s okay to wait for a minute outside the door so you won’t disturb him if he’s actually asleep.

Does the no tears method work?

We can’t say it often enough: No single sleep strategy is effective with every baby – or even for one baby all the time. You’ll have to get to know your child, be flexible, and figure out what works for you.

No tears advocates admit that the approach can take a while – longer, in all likelihood, than cry it out techniques – but they say that in the long run it’s less traumatic for baby and parents alike.

Source: Babycentre.com

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