First-time parents have generally accepted the fact that the advertised "sleep like a baby" is an outright lie. How can this human baby, who wakes up easily when put down and wakes up when cold, hot, wet or frightened, be synonymous with "sweet sleep, dreamless night, sleep until the next morning"?
Generations of parents who have been tortured for too long have turned into "desperate parents" for sleep. They search on Google for different keywords such as sleep guidance, baby sleep tips, sleep training to help their little ones sleep better and of course, to help themselves to sleep better.
Just as the great scientists discovered that the human brain can be developed gradually during infancy, parenting experts have discovered that human sleep can also be trained during the same time. Sleep training is about teaching babies to fall asleep without parental help, and when you meet the acceptance criteria -- babies must fall asleep on their own without being rocked, cuddled, nursed or shushed – you can be considered successful.
In general, sleep training is appropriate for infants older than 6 months old, a stage where children can usually sleep through the night without the support of night milk and also leave the dreaded stage of colic or flatulence. And for babies who are not sick, just imagine how cruel it is to still leave your child alone in his room to face the darkness alone if he has problems like acid reflux or fever.
But if your baby does not have these problems, and you have shoulder and neck fatigue, sore trapezius muscles, and sore arms because of prolonged sleep holding, then try to save yourself with the following 6 sleep training methods.
1. Cry it out
"Cry it out" (CIO) is probably the most controversial of all sleep training methods. Proponents believe it is quick and effective, while opponents worry that it will weaken the child's sense of inner security and thus somehow affect his future physical and mental health. Let's put aside the discussion of right and wrong for a moment and leave it for another article. Let's first introduce what it is here, so that you can have a general idea of what this approach looks like.
In short, the CIO is to ensure the safety of the child after following a fixed bedtime routine, and to leave them alone in the room, even if they cry, until they fall asleep. It is not until the next day that the parent enters the room to wake them up or to give the child a hug.
Typically, babies will learn to fall asleep on their own by the third or fourth night, or at most a week later. Eventually, your baby will only cry within a few minutes of going to sleep, or just fall asleep quietly.
For first-time parents, this method is simply torturous. So while the CIO's cry doesn't necessarily mean your child's tears, it could also be yours. New parents generally can't tolerate their children crying for too long, and they will always pick them up at the first sign of crying and calm them down by rocking, shushing, kissing, making faces, etc. until they smile again. So if the CIO approach is to be used, the first thing a new parent has to overcome is their own mental block.
After leaving the child alone in their room, parents can quickly dash off to a room where they "can't hear the crying" and try to immerse themselves in their own world. Whether it's doing chores, returning work emails, having a drink, watching a movie, or even just sleeping and lazing around, you'll win when you don't go into the room.
If you really don't feel comfortable, you can put a baby monitor in the baby's room, and monitor the baby's status by checking the display when you're anxious. You can buy a baby monitor with cry reminder function, so you can record the length of time the baby cries; best clarity enough to zoom in to see if the baby's face is painful or not; best with night vision function, in the case of dim light can also see the baby's sleep state.
If you can't bear the CIO, but want to see results as soon as possible, the Ferber Sleep Method, developed by Richard Ferber, M.D., Ph.D., Pediatrician and Director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at Boston Children's Hospital, is a better choice.
With this approach, you can still hear your child's cries, but the good news is that you can go help him! After following the same fixed bedtime routine, you leave your awake baby in their crib and leave the room. If the baby is crying, you can check on your baby a few minutes after the cries start and gradually extend the time of entry until the baby falls asleep.
Ferber suggests that if your baby is crying, wait a while before entering the room, talk in a soothing voice or pat him, and be careful not to turn on the light, pick him up or feed him. When you enter the room, you are simply reassuring your child that you are nearby, not telling him to stop crying or helping him to fall asleep. Please continue the entire soothing process for one to two minutes, then please be ruthless and leave the room while your child is still awake and re-enter the room at the times written on the table below and continue to soothe him.
Of course, don't try to rush into the room at every grunt, but let the child learn to soothe himself. You can also put a baby monitor in the baby's room. When you hear movement from outside, carefully observe the baby's state through the baby monitor before deciding whether to enter the room.
If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, repeat the process to help them fall back to sleep.
To increase your success rate, the same approach can be taken for your child's daytime naps to train your child to fall asleep.
However, it is important to note that Ferber is not necessarily suitable for all children. This approach is most suitable for children with poor sleep associations, and if your child is not sleeping well for other reasons, then Ferber may not work.
Generally, with the Ferber method, you can see results within a few days to a week and reduce both sleep problems and night waking. Of course, if your baby doesn't improve after a week, or if you don't think Ferber is right for you, consider trying a different sleep method.
3. Camping Out / Chair
Compared to CIO and Ferber, camping out is much more acceptable for parents. Yes, you don't have to leave the room ruthlessly, you can even pat and soothe your baby until they fall asleep! Many parents even unwittingly use the camping out method, which shows how useful it is. In a nutshell, the camping out method means that children can "fall asleep on their own without their parents by their side", rather than being "soothed by their parents in order to fall asleep". How does it work?
3.1 Stay with your child, whether lying or sitting, and soothe him to your heart's content
When you try this method on the first night, prepare yourself a mattress or chair so you can comfortably lie or sit next to your child. You place your child, who has gone through the bedtime routine, in his crib and soothe them by patting, stroking, and talking soothingly until they fall asleep. When he’s asleep, you can leave the room quietly.
If your baby wakes up at night, keep the same operation going.
3.2 Let's reduce the frequency of soothing
After you have successfully put your child to sleep for a few nights (usually three) by way of step one, the next step is to reduce the amount of stroking, patting, and even you can keep it quiet. This means staying longer between each touch, or reducing the number of pats, etc. The ultimate goal is that your baby can fall asleep on his or her own, without being touched, next to you.
If your baby wakes up at night, keep the same distance and the same soothing approach.
3.3 Try to move further and further away from your baby until you get out of the room
Once your baby can fall asleep without being touched, you can drag your mattress or chair a little further away from them. Please take one step closer to the door, so that your baby knows you are still with him. And how far you drag it, and how many nights the change in distance occurs, depends entirely on your child. Wait until you can move the mattress/chair out of the room and your baby is still asleep, then you've succeeded.
Note that if your baby starts to cry during the process, you can certainly pick them up and comfort them. When they have calmed down, please start the process again. Since camping out takes a long time, it usually takes 2-3 weeks to get to work.