Sleep training a toddler can seem like a Sisyphus myth. You can be trying to teach him healthy sleep habits and right when you think you’ve done it, he’s up again. To help exhausted parents, I want to suggest three different methods for developing healthy sleep habits.
Have you reached a point where co-sleeping with your toddler or staying up all night to comfort him is no longer working for your family?
Your toddler may be waking up a few times every night and refuse to go to sleep unless it’s in your bed. Or, he may have just switched sleeping from a crib to a toddler bed and is taking him a few hours to fall asleep.
Whatever your situation may be, it’s got to stop.
I have an amazing solution to your troubles: sleep training.
The great thing about sleep training is that it can be done when your child is three months old or 18 months old. With a little bit of effort and dedication from your end, you can teach your child how to sleep independently in a matter of days.
Here are three methods for sleep training a toddler:
The Ferber Method
The Ferber Method, although one of the most popular methods, it’s often misunderstood by parents as a cruel technique that involves leaving your child to cry all night.
Instead, the Ferber Method aims to help you teach your child to sleep all night without crying or with minimal crying.
By correctly applying this method, your toddler will start falling asleep easily at night, sleep for longer hours, and soothe himself back to sleep if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Moreover, it also promotes healthier and better day naps.
If your toddler associates going to sleep with rocking, breastfeeding, or having their back rubbed, this will teach him to fall asleep on his own.
For this to happen you’ll have to make sure you don’t rock, breastfeed, or sing to your toddler when he goes to sleep. What you should do is establish a good bedtime routine that can include anything from a bath to a massage. When you notice your toddler is getting drowsy, simply put him into his bed and leave the room.
If your child wakes up or starts crying, you can try checking up on him to see if he’s okay but avoid getting him to stop crying or helping him fall asleep.
You can pop your head in the doorway and say, “You’re okay, I love you.”
This method includes returning to check up on your toddler at set intervals, and gradually increasing the length of time between leaving your child and returning to the room to give him reassurance.
I won’t sugarcoat things and say that it’s going to be easy, especially if your child is a crier. But you should see a marked improvement in your child’s sleep within a few days to a week.
The Fading Method
The Fading Method is a gentler alternative to the Ferber Method for sleep training a toddler. However, it’s also a method that takes more time. It can take several weeks of repetition before this type of method yields results.
It involves giving your toddler the hugs and cuddles he needs but gradually reducing the amount of time you’re in his room.
You put your child in his bed when he’s drowsy but this awake, and leave the room. If you hear your toddler crying, don’t rush to re-enter the room. Wait a few minutes before entering his room to soothe him back to sleep.
Try soothing him back to sleep by rubbing his back for a few minutes and leave the room again.
If you hear your toddler crying again, repeat the steps until he falls asleep.
In case you enter his room and find him out of bed, pick him up and tuck him in. You can offer a hug and quick cuddle to give him the reassurance he needs. Then leave the room.
Although it may take several weeks for this method to work, don’t give up. Eventually, your toddler will learn to start falling asleep on his own without any cuddles or hugs.
The Sleep Lady Shuffle Method
The Sleep Lady Shuffle Method, or the Camping Out Method, is considered a “gentler” technique that is supposed to be ideal for sleep training a toddler.
This method may be a good choice if your child is anxious about going to sleep or you think it may be challenging to keep him in his room.
This method involves putting your baby to sleep and placing a chair next to his bed. If he starts fussing our crying, give him verbal reassurance from the chair, or even pat him once in a while. You stay in his room until he’s fallen asleep. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, sit on the chair and repeat the process.
Every two or three nights, move the chair a little bit further away from his bed. The end goal is to teach your child to fall asleep without you in the room.
Consistency Is Key
Regardless if you choose the Ferber or the Fading Method, in all scenarios, consistency is key. Sleep training a toddler only works if you’re consistent with your approach and stick to it for as long as it takes.
To make sure you stay consistent, choose a week or two when you and your partner are available. Avoid traveling as this may interfere with your child’s bedtime routine and you may be required to start the process anew.
If you notice that the method you chose to apply doesn’t yield results, take a break for a week or two, and try with a different approach.
How Can a Sleep Trainer Help You?
When it comes to sleep training a toddler, you can always do it alone, or you can ask for professional help from a certified sleep trainer.
What we saw above was a general description of some of the most popular sleep training techniques. However, when you have a sleep trainer working alongside you, you’ll get a personalized plan that fits your toddler’s temperament and personality.
A sleep trainer can ensure you’re on the right track and offer unlimited support throughout the process. In no time, you’ll manage to turn those bedtime battles into regular and restful sleep patterns.