Sleep Training: No Tears vs Cry It Out

baby-cryYou may be wondering which of the two methods mentioned in the title of this article is the best one to use when trying to “sleep train” your child. I am not an expert on the matter by any means, however, I can offer a little insight into the two methods and some first-hand experience.

The ‘No Tears’ Method

This method of sleep training was popularized by Elizabeth Pantley’s book The No-Cry Sleep Solution. First, I have to say that I dislike the name of this method simply because it implies that your child will not cry while you implement it. This is misleading. Babies, like many adults, thrive on having a set routine they can expect and count on. This means that any time you disrupt or change your child’s routine you should expect for there to be resistance on their end. For most children, that can be at least some degree of crying because it is their only way of communicating their frustrations.

That said, this method is meant to create the least amount of stress for your child while learning to sleep on their own. This means that you must be willing to do pretty much anything it takes to keep your baby from crying and to encourage them to go to sleep – whether it is rocking them, feeding them, co-sleeping with them or any other positive form of physical bonding.

My daughter was having a lot of difficulty getting her daughter to sleep and the ‘no tears’ method did not work for her for a variety of reasons, but the main reason is a simple one. After about two months of trying all of the tips and tricks she could find on every single way to implement this method, she was exhausted and my granddaughter was waking up more often instead of less. We know parents who have tried this method and had it work out great for them but my daughter can not say the same.

The ‘Cry-It-Out’ Method

As the name implies, with this method you are not aiding your child by rocking them to sleep or anything else. Instead, you put them in their bed and let them go to sleep on their own – even if that means they cry until they fall asleep.

There are a couple of ways to implement this approach. The best way, in my experience, is through something called “controlled crying.” This means that you put your child in their bed andleave the room. When the crying begins you wait five minutes and then go in to settle them back down. You are supposed to do this at increasing time intervals for however long it takes them to fall asleep.

This method might sound old fashioned, but it did actually work for my daughter. After a week of trying this out, my granddaughter was going to bed a lot easier and staying asleep for a lot longer. While this approach may not be for everyone, it can work for some children.

The important thing to remember is that your child is a unique individual. What worked for my daughter may not work for you and your child – and it can even vary with each of your own children. Until you find what works best for your family it is going to be all trial-and-error, but patience and consistency is key no matter what method you choose.

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Settling Techniques For Your Baby

newbornYes, we all love our little bouncy bundles of joy. We adore their coos and flails as newborns. As they grow, we love their boundless energy, their unquenchable curiosity and astonishing reserves of stamina. But let’s be honest. Whether we’re brand new parents or several months into that role, we have to acknowledge that it feels pretty good when those wee dynamos finally close their eyes and slip into peaceful slumber.

Finding the right settling technique

A little perseverance in establishing a calming nap time or bedtime routine goes a long way in settling a baby for sleep. It helps the baby unwind, eliminates over-stimulation and creates an atmosphere conducive to slumber. Not all babies are the same, so there’s a little bit of trial and error involved. But if you press on, you’re sure to find something that works for your baby. Here are some popular methods parents around the world have tried successfully:

1. Soothing music

Soft, soothing music can work wonders. Pick a quiet room, pull the shades down if its daytime or dim the lights if it’s dark outside. Turn on a lullaby and lay the baby down in the crib. You will know soon enough if the music is working its magic. Lullabies are called that for a reason.

2. Baby swing

Rhythmical movement is known to have a settling effect on infants and toddlers. A baby swing is a great tool to achieve that, especially for nap times. The to-and-fro motion comforts most babies and lulls them to sleep. When you need to recharge with a nap yourself or have to catch up chores, press the baby swing into service. Just make sure you strap her in safely. The swing is ideal for naps. It is a godsend for millions of parents as they can get a lot done while the swing keeps the baby napping peacefully close by. There are many baby swings to choose from, but I found this review at Cool Kiddy Stuff of the best baby swings to be very helpful.

3. Swaddling

Some infants find it hard to sleep unless they are snugly swaddled, mimicking the coziness of the womb. Swaddling keeps the baby from flailing, easing over-stimulation and calming him enough to fall asleep. Just make sure to pick a swaddling cloth that doesn’t make the baby feel too warm and uncomfortable.

4. Walking the baby

Cradling the baby in your arms and walking her to sleep works well too. You could also use a sling or snugly settle the baby in a stroller if you want to use this settling strategy. But the walking method should be used sparingly because babies form habits very quickly and this routine can be hard for parents to keep up.

5. A comforting cuddle

Infants respond well to this method of settling. When you want to put your newborn down for a nap after a feed, cuddle him close, preferably letting him feel contact with your bare skin. Feeling your warmth, hearing your heartbeat and being snugly cradled makes baby feel as secure as he did in the womb and helps calm him enough to fall asleep.

6. Reading

This is a settling habit a parent should try to introduce as early as possible. A baby who is a couple of months old will obviously not understand the words being read, but it’s the soft cadence of your speech and the comforting sound of your voice that soothes her. As she grows, the words will become familiar and comprehensible, their predictable arrangement comforting and anticipated. It’s a wonderful settling and bonding routine for any baby and parent.

7. A warm bath

Water’s soothing powers are well known and they work just as well on babies as they do on grown ups. Giving the baby a short, warm bath before bed helps relax tense muscles and calm over-stimulated senses, making it easier for him to wind down and fall asleep.

8. A massage

Who among us doesn’t love a good massage? Just as we feel our stresses float away and our muscles relax when getting a gentle kneading, so does a baby. A tender massage of those little arms and legs can help your infant or toddler soothe quickly and settle down for sleep.

These are all tried and tested methods of settling babies for sleep and if you are looking for more, Tesillian have a very informative tip sheet here. It’s just a matter of identifying the one that’s ideal for you and your baby. Once you’ve found what works, nap and bedtimes will become much easier. Mastering a sleep routine is one of the biggest challenges for new parents. Conquering that can take a lot of stress out of those precious early stages of a parental journey.

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3 Tips For Easing Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

holding-handsSeparation anxiety can be a frustrating thing for both parents and children to deal with. On especially rough days, some parents may even start to question whether or not they’ve somehow “spoiled” their child because it is so hard to leave them with other caregivers. If you happen to be one of those parents, you are not alone in this thinking.

However, it is important to understand that separation anxiety in young children is a completely normal stage of emotional development to go through. Some will experience it earlier or later than others and some will quickly out-grow this stage while others struggle with it for a few years. All of these things are completely normal.

So, what is separation anxiety?

Medical professionals have defined separation anxiety as “a child’s apprehension or fear associated with his or her separation from a parent or other significant person.” It usually develops when a child has reached the stage in which they can understand that something (or someone) still exists even when they can’t see it anymore–a term professionals call object permanence.

Experts all agree that most young children will experience some form of separation anxiety at one time or another. This can start happening as early as six months old, though ten to eighteen months is when many the majority of babies begin to exhibit signs of separation anxiety.

What can you do to help ease their anxiety?

While you can’t make separation anxiety simply disappear, you can help to ease your child’s fears when they arise. As a mother and former childcare provider, I can tell you that the three most important things to do are:

1. Keep it upbeat. Children are very good at sensing the emotions of their caregivers–whether it is love, excitement, sadness, anger or stress. Being calm and upbeat, instead of anxious and sappy, during transition to a new place can help ease your child’s fears immensely.

2. Always say goodbye before you leave. If you think your child will adjust easier if they don’t see you leave, you are mistaken. Simply disappearing without letting your child know will only make anxious behaviors worse and prolong the time it takes for them to adjust to their new setting or routine. A simple hug and kiss with reassurance that you will be back is all it usually takes.

3. Once you’ve left the building, simply head to your next destination. Most children will cry for a few minutes and then are fine until their parents return to get them. Going back repeatedly to check on or reassure your child will only make it more difficult for the caregiver to settle them down once you are really gone.

For these tips to work, you need to be aware of your own anxieties about leaving your child. If you are anxious and tearful when dropping your child off, chances are they will be too. Keeping a calm, positive and reassuring manner will help your child feel that they will be safe. Once your child is familiar with the new situation–usually after several tear-filled goodbyes–their separation anxiety usually disappears.

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