In this sleep training series, so far I’ve talked about the importance of a bedtime routine and gone over how you can sleep train while co-sleeping. In part 3 of this series, I will be discussing the “fading” method of sleep training.
Fading: The Method
This method I would consider one of the no-cry (or very little cry) methods. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, when you change the rules how baby falls asleep (usually by breaking a sleep association), it is usually not done without some form of protest. Your baby is sleepy and wants to be sleeping and you aren’t doing what you’ve always done! He or she might get a little mad here! How would you feel if you had to learn to sleep without your pillow? But, with practice, time and commitment we can all learn a new way to sleep.
With this method, you help your baby fall asleep, but you set up “rules” as to how you will slowly take yourself out of the equation. If you think about how you have done most of the work up until this point, now you will develop rules to follow that will shift the “work” to your baby/child. Have you always rocked baby all the way to sleep? You might rock him/her less time and put him in the crib drowsy, but awake and let him/her try to fall asleep on his/her own. If he/she gets worked up, you try to quiet and soothe them using other methods until he/she is asleep. Each night, you do less and less “work” and your baby should do more of it.
Fading: How Long Will It Take?
As you can see, this method can take a lot of time and patience on your part. And, depending on the temperament of the child, it might be very difficult to follow it through until the end. But, if you do not want to allow your child to cry alone and you also don’t want to continue the path you’re on now, it’s a great first step! After all, how do you know whether it will work or not if you don’t try it?
The amount of time this method will take will be directly related to your ability to be CONSISTENT and your child’s temperament and personality (how strong-willed is he/she and will he/she “outlast” you?). It is imperative that you remain consistent because if you falter 1 hour in, for example, then it will only be that much harder next time. I highly recommend writing down the plan you hope to follow such that you can refer to it and really stick to it 100%.
Continue to Part 4 of this series.