Proven Techniques to Train Your Infant to Sleep Through the Night

By:  Debby Hoffer

A baby may start sleeping through the night as young as three months.  If your baby is still waking up during the night, don’t panic, especially if they are younger than six months.  Younger babies that are growing and developing may still need a nightly feeding.  If your infant of six months or older is regularly waking up during the night, try one of these proven sleep training techniques :

The Ferber Method

Developed by Dr. Richard Ferber, Director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorder Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston, this technique known as “Feberizing” teaches  an infant to soothe themselves to sleep.

Better Infant Sleep Through Ferberizing Follows These Important Steps:

  1. Set a regular time for your infant’s bedtime.  Most babies will fall asleep between 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.  After a soothing bed time routine, put your infant in bed and leave the room.  Stay in close proximity to the room to listen for your child’s cry.  If he or she is crying wait five minutes and then go in the room and comfort them with the sound of your voice and some gentle pats.  Do not pick your infant up!
  2. Leave the room again and wait ten minutes before going in to comfort your child.  Keep extending the time in five minutes increments until your infant child falls asleep.
  3. On the second night repeat the soothing bed time routine and put your child to bed at the set time.  Let your child cry five minutes longer than the beginning interval of the first night starting with ten minutes and increasing the time again in five minute increments.
  4. Repeat the method every night, extending the beginning cry time in five minute increments for a week.  By then, hopefully, your child will be sleeping through the night.

The Ferber Method stands on the concept that your infant will eventually learn how to comfort themselves to sleep.  The child will learn coping skills to help them get to sleep with the secure understanding that you are there for periodic comfort.

In May 2006, Dr. Ferber released an update of his book, “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.”  The book contains more information about children’s sleep schedules, common sleep problems and the Ferber method.

Crying Options from Dr. Marc Weissbluth

Dr. Marc Weissbluth, pediatrician and the author of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” suggests in his book that a baby as young as four months is ready for some type of sleep training.  Dr. Weisbluth points out that being overtired can cause significant sleep issues for infants.  He gives parents crying options to help them decide when and if they should let their baby cry. You can learn more about Dr. Weissbluth’s sleep training methods and his book.

Day to day, it is important to remember to slow down and be mindful of your infant child’s sleep schedule.  Taking naps on the run, in the car and in the stroller may not be restful in the long run.  Irregular bed times can cause confusion and lead to bed time battles.  Making sure that your child gets adequate time to sleep will help you get some sleep too.