How to use bedtime fading for tear-less sleep (and other methods)
Learn the many methods for putting baby to sleep, the effects of sleep deprivation on parents, and how to get a good night's rest as told by Dr. Aaron E. Carroll!
New parents, if you could wish for one thing at this very moment, what would it be?
Before you had kids, you might have answered “a new house” or “the lottery!”
However, you realise as a new parent all you wish for is a good night’s rest.
At this point, you discover the challenges of parenthood. You’re constantly on alert and attentive to your little one’s needs at any given moment throughout the day.
The only moment for respite is when he/she is asleep. But what do you do when your child refuses to sleep?
When your child doesn’t sleep, you don’t sleep. It becomes a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation for you. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation leads to an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and the chance of traffic accidents!
In fact, not getting enough sleep can also lead to postpartum depression.
Mummy, it can feel exhausting. But don’t fret, because there are ways to cope with sleep deprivation.
And as you adjust your sleeping patterns to your little one, here are some of the most popular sleep-training methods to get your little one sleeping through the night.
You’ve probably heard of the “cry it out” (CIO) method, also known as the “extinction” approach.
The general idea is to put your baby down when it’s sleep time and let him/her cry until the morning. The theory is that your little one will learn how to self-soothe himself/herself to sleep and get into the correct sleep pattern. Perhaps the hardest part is the most crucial step—you can’t intervene and pick up the baby no matter how long they cry for.
At one point in time, parents subscribed to this approach. Enduring the relentless crying was generally accepted as one of the lows of parenting.
Thankfully, there are variations of the CIO method that are less emotionally taxing for you and your baby.
Dr David Ferber further developed the original CIO approach.
The “Graduated Extinction” is the same in theory. The difference is you ease your little one into sleeping on his/her own.
The steps for the Ferber method are:
- Put your baby down to sleep when he/she is drowsy
- Leave the room
- If your baby starts crying, wait for five minutes
- Go in and comfort him/her, but don’t pick your baby up
- When your baby is calm, leave the room again
- Wait for eight minutes the next time your baby starts crying
- Increase the waiting intervals gradually
It is physically more taxing as you’ll be in and out frequently. But after a few days, your baby will be able to comfort himself/herself to sleep without any assistance.
If the previous two methods seem too difficult for you to implement, try Bedtime Fading.
Instead of putting your children to bed according to a fixed schedule, you go with their timing.
Steps for this approach are:
- Take note of when your baby goes to bed, including nap times
- Set a “wake” time which your baby will wake up to everyday
- On the first night, delay your child’s sleep time by 30 minutes
- If your child takes more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, delay your child’s sleep time by another 30 minutes
- Once you’ve found a time where your child falls asleep with minimal fuss, stick to this timing for three days straight
- After three days of falling asleep peacefully, gradually move your baby’s sleep time earlier
Research indicates children fall asleep quicker and have fewer tantrums after Bedtime Fading was used.
The key to this approach is setting a consistent bedtime routine. It helps your little one associate bedtime as fun and relaxing, which makes it easier to fall asleep.
Scheduled Awakenings is an approach that focuses on reducing the number of times your child wakes in the middle of the night, rather than helping him/her fall asleep.
The steps include:
- Make a note of when your child wakes up during night time
- Wake your baby up 15-30 minutes before they normally stir
- Spend time comforting and soothing your little one back to sleep
- Gradually fade out scheduled awakenings
This method can be useful if your baby seems to have problems staying asleep during the night.
It’s common that babies aged 7-10 months wake up at least once per night. It can be due to many reasons, but don’t lose hope! Your little one’s bedtime routine will settle normally after a week.
Getting your baby to sleep can seem like an uphill struggle. Try implementing one of these sleep-training techniques to help your little one get used to falling asleep on his/her own.
Don’t worry if you aren’t sure which method is best. Research shows that all of the aforementioned approaches lead to improved sleep!
Moms and dads, do whatever it takes to get a good night’s rest. It could literally save your life!
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