Sleep-Training Baby

By: Dr. Jane Yu

As a family physician in Brockton, I’ve spent many moments talking to parents about their baby’s feeding and sleep habits, drawing upon my training in medical school and residency to dispel myths, dispense advice, and offer guidance.  Six months ago, I became a first-time mom myself when my daughter Avery entered the world, and all the advice I’d dispensed over the years suddenly took on new meaning as I found myself experiencing firsthand all the joys and challenges that accompany parenthood.

The age-old controversy on the various approaches to sleep training found its way into our home, as the weeks turned into months, and our daughter was still not sleeping through the night.  My husband and I grappled with both choosing a method and a start date of when to begin sleep-training our daughter. Did we feel she was mature enough to be sleep-trained?  And did we favor a “no-tears” approach, a “cry it out” approach, or something in between?

There are actually many schools of thought when it comes to sleep-training your baby; however, there is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach.  What worked for your friend’s baby may not work for yours, and what worked for your first child may not work for your second, since each child’s temperament and personality is unique.

For a no-cry approach, some books you may find helpful are:

  •  “The Baby Sleep Book” by Dr. William Sears
  • “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” by Tracey Hogg, R.N
  • “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley

If you are comfortable allowing your baby to cry (some expert believe that some degree of crying may be an inevitable and necessary part of breaking poor sleep habits and helping your child re-establish better ones), some good books to read are:

  • “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Dr. Richard Ferber
  • “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth

Ultimately, the method you choose is not nearly as important as being consistent, and since babies thrive on routine, do try to establish a regular bedtime routine with your child.  It can be as simple as a bath, followed by reading a book together or singing a lullaby.  Also, any sleep-training method is only as effective as your own comfort level in implementing and following through with it.

So yesterday, on Avery’s 6-month birthday, she experienced her first taste of squash by day and her first day of sleep-training by night (we ultimately decided to try the Ferber method.)  My husband and I got through it (though he more easily than I, especially when it came to hearing her cry).  I’m pleased to report that so far, after Day #2 of Project Get-Avery-to-Sleep-Through-the-Night, she seems no worse for the wear.  Is it working though?  We’ll soon find out.   Tonight is only Day #3.  Dr. Ferber, don’t let me down!

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