What is the best way to sleep train a baby? Sleep

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After waiting and wishing for your baby to start getting a full night's sleep, you're ready to dive into a serious sleep-training regimen. Sleep training is a controversial concept, so you'll have to decide what's right for your family. Here's what experts and other moms say you can do to lessen your little one's nighttime wakening.

Establish Smart Habits & Be Realistic

"Start with good habits, such as having your baby sleep in his/her own crib. Don't rock the baby completely to sleep, and don't let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. It takes six weeks for babies to sleep more at night than they do during the day. Parents should also realize that sleep training doesn't occur until there's a nighttime sleep and daytime nap pattern, which happens at about 3 to 4 months of age." -- Hannah Chow, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and codirector of the Loyola Center for Health at North Riverside, Illinois

There's No Single Best Method

"In my opinion, there is no single best method for sleep training. Every baby and family is different, so I recommend parents or caregivers explore all the options out there, and discuss what you think will work best for your family. There are three main categories of sleep training techniques: the 'cry-it-out' or extinction methods (a popular example is 'Ferberization'); the 'no tears' method, which tends to be the gentlest of the options; and the 'fading' approaches, which are somewhat of...

"In my opinion, there is no single best method for sleep training. Every baby and family is different, so I recommend parents or caregivers explore all the options out there, and discuss what you think will work best for your family. There are three main categories of sleep training techniques: the 'cry-it-out' or extinction methods (a popular example is 'Ferberization'); the 'no tears' method, which tends to be the gentlest of the options; and the 'fading' approaches, which are somewhat of a middle ground. I recommend that you trial any particular method for one to two weeks at a time before determining if it is working well for you and your baby." -- Madhavi Kapoor, MD, pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, New York, New York

Skip the Sleep Training

"Sleeping and sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone. I fed them on demand throughout the night, and my kids slept through the night when they were developmentally ready to do so. No trauma, no drama."

Ferber Method

"Every baby is different, so while one method might work for one child, it may not have an impact on another. Personally, the Ferber method worked for us. We would let my son cry it out in very small intervals, going in periodically to let him know he was safe and we were there. Then, we would leave again. We really wanted him to learn to self-soothe."

3-Minute Training Tool

"We did the '3-minute training tool.' I'd let my baby cry for three minutes, then go into her room and pat her back, let her know I was there, and then walk out of the room and set my alarm for another three minutes. We did this until she fell asleep. The longest night we did this for was 30 minutes. It wasn't too sad for her -- or me!"

Don't Form Certain Habits

"All my kids slept through the night after about 3 months. But I definitely agree they need to learn to put themselves to sleep. I have a night-light in their rooms. I never rocked them to sleep and never had them sleep with us. Basically, I did not want to have them form any habits that I would have to break later. But obviously, if they were sick, I made an exception."

'Baby Wise' Method

"I recommend reading On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep! In the book, the physicians explain babies can sleep 9 hours at 9 weeks, 10 hours at 10 weeks, etc. As long as they have sufficient intake of food during the day, they physically don't need to eat in the middle of the night -- unless they show signs of hunger. In the weeks approaching the 3-month mark, I played it by ear to feel out if she was hungry. If she wouldn't settle down after 10-15 minutes,...

"I recommend reading On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep! In the book, the physicians explain babies can sleep 9 hours at 9 weeks, 10 hours at 10 weeks, etc. As long as they have sufficient intake of food during the day, they physically don't need to eat in the middle of the night -- unless they show signs of hunger. In the weeks approaching the 3-month mark, I played it by ear to feel out if she was hungry. If she wouldn't settle down after 10-15 minutes, I'd change her and feed her. Once we were approaching 12 weeks, I knew she was old enough to sleep through the night. I got into a routine, like they explained is imperative. Bath time, put on pj's, a fresh diaper, give her a little milk -- and she's fast asleep for 12 hours. Every day at the same time, I do this routine, so her body is accustomed to it. Most importantly, they say babies move and make a ton of noise in their sleep. It is imperative not to run, touch, and wake the baby if you hear a sound. My daughter can self-soothe and fall back asleep without my assistance, which is key! I've been so lucky, but she sleeps for 12 hours pretty much from 7 to 7 every night! Also, once the nanny leaves around 5, I try my best to entertain and play with her so she is a little sleepy and ready for bed and not napping right before our bedtime routine."

Every Kid Is Different

"Don't beat yourself up if sleep training doesn't work for your baby. It worked for our oldest and not our second. With our eldest, we'd put him in his crib [and] he'd fall asleep, wake up, and start crying. He cried for about 45 minutes the first night and then finally fell back to sleep. Over the course of about two weeks, the crying time became less and less before he was basically sleeping through the night. We tried the same method for our second son, and he would cry for hours and...

"Don't beat yourself up if sleep training doesn't work for your baby. It worked for our oldest and not our second. With our eldest, we'd put him in his crib [and] he'd fall asleep, wake up, and start crying. He cried for about 45 minutes the first night and then finally fell back to sleep. Over the course of about two weeks, the crying time became less and less before he was basically sleeping through the night. We tried the same method for our second son, and he would cry for hours and never go back to sleep. I personally think it's because he never found anything to self-soothe. He didn't take a pacifier or suck his thumb or fingers. And he didn't attach himself to a lovie."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.