Comparing Popular Baby Sleep Training Methods

When you have a baby, every parent knows that getting a good night’s sleep seems like an unattainable goal. Until your baby is sleeping through the night, if you do not have overnight care, you may truly be suffering from sleep deprivation. In order to get your baby on a routine, parents often turn to one (or some) of the many baby sleep training methods.

I’ve reached out to our knowledgeable team of newborn care specialists to gather the most popular methods for your consideration. Before I start, the one thing that all parties seem to agree on is that every newborn has different needs (even siblings), and it is important to adapt to see what works best. Here is a brief overview of the common methods:

  • *The Ferber Method: (NOTE: This works best when you put your child to bed while they are still drowsy but not completely asleep). You put the baby down for sleep and for the first few nights, immediately return whenever the baby cries, patting them and ensuring they’re calm before leaving the room again. After the first few nights, you come back at set time intervals that gradually increase each night, eventually hitting the point where a baby self-soothes.
  • *The Pick-Up/Put-Down Method: This method is where you pick up your baby while they are crying, soothe them until they are calm (not typically asleep), and then put them back into their crib and leave the room. These steps are repeated, and eventually it can help with independent sleeping.
  • The Chair Method: (NOTE: May work best for older babies) The chair method is where you start sitting near the baby’s crib, and each night you move a little bit farther away until the chair is out of the room. This will help them learn how to sleep independently over a period of time with no drastic action needed.
  • The 5 S’s: (NOTE: This is not technically a sleep training method but it can be used to complement other methods) The 5 S’s stand for swaddle, side or stomach position, shush, swing, and suck. The idea is to give the child a sense of the way they felt when they were in the womb through positioning, sounds, and motion. A “Snoo” is a sleep sack that some parents/caregivers use that incorporates swaddling, shushing (white noise), and swinging with smart-triggered motion, to help a baby fall asleep. You can raise and lower the rocking based on the deeper sleep cycles, and adjust it during movement in the crib to get the baby back to sleep.
  • Fading Method: This method entails starting with multiple soothing techniques such as feeding, rocking, or cuddling, and then fading out aspects that rely on you. This means gradually reducing the amount of time you are comforting the baby each night. This promotes self-soothing and minimizes distress for both parties with no shocking action taken.
  • Extinction / Cry it Out Method: I was hesitant to include this technique because it’s the most controversial and “old school”. I don’t want to insinuate that by including it, we are endorsing it, but I do want to note its existence, and that it is still used. The idea is that once you put the baby down, you literally just don’t respond to the crying, which gradually “extinguishes” it. Experts say it is harder on parents than on your little one, and that if you are consistent, the baby should begin falling asleep on their own within approximately three to four nights, but again, there are many critics of this method.
  • Baby Wise: This involves following a prescribed eat/wake/sleep cycle based on the baby’s age. For every 3 hours around the clock, you feed for 15–20 minutes, play for 30–40 minutes, and sleep for 2 hours. At 3 or 4 months old, you begin to let them sleep longer, and longer at the 8 or 9 p.m. and so on. This establishes a consistent routine to encourage more predictable habits and regular sleep.

*Favored by our Newborn Care Specialists

The first three months are the most difficult, but at 4-6 months, babies typically begin to develop a more predictable sleep schedule. Babies also require varying amounts of sleep; newborns require 16-18 hours a day, which usually decreases by 12-14 hours by the age of 4-12 months.

When creating a sleep training plan that is the right fit for your baby, it is important to research all of the different options! Additionally, one of the most important factors in establishing good sleep habits is a calming bedtime routine that parents can implement with their baby right from the start. Again, remember that when something works well for one family, it doesn’t mean that it would work well for another. There is no exact formula for baby sleep, and it will probably require some trial and error.

Our Newborn Care Specialists and Overnight Nannies are willing to follow whatever methods you prefer, or can coach you with what works best for your baby. We hope that you find the perfect fit for you and your baby and have a future of long nights of fully restful sleep!

Sweet Dreams!