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Strategically Searching for Sleep Solutions

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Shopping around for a sleep solution can be a nerve wracking experience. There many competing theories on sleep training, making the task of picking right sleep solution a very intimidating task.

When my husband and I decided to sleep train our baby, we were completely baffled by the number of sleep solutions we had to choose from. To make matters worse, sleep solutions often contradicted each other making this decision even more challenging. Crying is debilitating for a child’s self-esteem, one sleep solution would argue. Another theory would retort that by not letting a child learn to self-soothe will lead to excessive unhealthy dependence upon parents and long-lasting bad habits. Confused? Yes. So were we.

We decided to tackle this challenge like we tackled projects at work – strategically and logically. approach. We knew our end goal i.e., training our son to sleep through the night, and finally getting a full night of sleep ourselves. Keeping our end goal in mind we came up with a strategy to choose a sleep solution.



Once you have established that there are no extenuating circumstances that preclude sleep training your baby (see our article on the Science of Sleep for guidelines), I would suggest employing the following approach to choosing and implementing a sleep solution: 

1. Find your sleep solution camp: The first step is to determine the type of sleep solution you would be most comfortable with. There are three main camps that most sleep solutions fit into: [refer to my article Sleep Solution Primer for a review of sleep solutions in each sleep solution camp]

i. Full- Extinction Methods: These types of sleep solutions use the practice of letting a child cry indefinitely at bedtime (and up to one hour at nap time). Marc Weissbluth, author of the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” is one of the key proponents of the full-extinction method.

ii. Controlled Crying Methods: These types of sleep solutions use a structured time table in which parents follow a predictable bed time routine and then leave their child alone in the crib for incrementally longer periods of time. Richard Ferber, father of the popular sleep solution “Ferberization”, is the most popular proponent of this method.

Note: Both of these methods are Cry-It-Out (CIO) techniques

iii. No- Cry Methods: Proponents of these sleep solutions, disagree with the practice of teaching a child to sleep by letting them cry for longer than a few minutes. Proponents of these sleep solution methods believe that crying creates a negative sleep association which may have adverse effects on a child’s emotional and cognitive development. Elizabeth Pantley, author of “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” is one of the more well-known proponents of this type of method.

2. Narrow your search: After you decide which sleep solution camp you are comfortable with, narrow your search down to the top two or three of the sleep solutions from those camps.You can pick these sleep solutions by discussing what works and what doesn’t with other parents, or by reading magazines or even online user reviews of various solutions.

3.Understand basic principles: Once you have narrowed your search down to a few sleep solutions, begin reading up on them to develop an understanding of their basic principles.

4. Figure out peculiarities: It is helpful to read user experiences or talk to some parents, to learn about quirks of the sleep solutions you are evaluating.

5. Decide on a sleep solution and thoroughly read up on it: After reviewing the basic concepts of the sleep solution options, decide on one sleep solution that you are most comfortable with. Alternately, you can concoct your own creative solution by piecing together some of the sleep solutions you are evaluating. Then thoroughly read the sleep solution literature. You should understand all the ins and outs of the sleep solution,you have chosen, to minimize any ambiguity while sleep training your baby.

6. Go big or go home: The importance of completely committing to a sleep solution cannot be stressed enough. Once you pick a sleep solution, chalk out a plan to implement the sleep training; figure out your schedule; explain the method to other caregivers who assist you; keep a sleep log.

It is critical that once you start sleep training, you maintain consistency in your method and attitude to avoid any unnecessary confusion and additional stress for your child.

7. Ready-set-go: As long as you and other caregivers have completely understood the sleep solution methodology, you can begin your sleep training journey.

Sleep training your child is not an easy task. At some moments your heart will break into a million pieces. But stay strong. Remember that a good night’s sleep is important for your child’s development, and it will also allow you to have energy to focus on other ways to be a better parent.


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Contributed by saimaismail

Saima is the Editor-in-Chief, and co-founder of Bright Babyhood. She is a management consultant and a Columbia University alumni. She currently spends her days managing and writing for Bright Babyhood, and brainstorming ways to convince her toddler to eat. You can find her writings at www.BrightBabyhood.com.

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