Baby Sleep Training Methods Reviewed

mother and baby in nursery putting baby to sleep

Sleep Training Methods – Should You Use Them?

 There are several different sleep training methods to help your baby get to sleep, especially if your attempts to establish a normal bedtime routine have not been that effective. The methods that you end up trying simply depend on what you feel the most comfortable with and what works the best, but you should speak to your pediatrician before trying any sleep training methods and only use methods that have been studied as being effective. The methods described below have been published in the Sleep and other journals and have proven to work when applied the correct way. The important thing is to pick a sleep training method that you feel the most comfortable with and natural using, and there is a good chance that it will work for you. 

The “No Tears” Method

This is a method that involves a gentle and gradual approach to sleep training, where the baby is taken care of as soon as she starts crying. “No tears” methods are the alternative to “cry it out” methods where you let your baby cry alone for a short period of time while supervising them and let her fall back to sleep on her own. We don’t reccommend the ‘cry it out method. It can cause psychological harm to babies. No tears sleep training methods are a good choice for parents who don’t like the idea of cry it out sleep training methods or who have tried them without much luck. The no-tears sleep training method involves a child centered approach which may include nursing a baby to sleep, rocking to sleep, and physical closeness as a way to create positive sleep associations. Some proponents recommend rocking and feeding your baby until she is tired and then putting her to bed once the point of drowsiness has been reached. If your baby wakes up you would immediately respond to her. Other variations of the no tears method can include picking your baby up when she cries and putting her back to sleep, but not using the rocking and feeding method.

newborn baby swaddled for bed.

The “No Tears” Method Described in Detail

The “No Tears” method is a popular method of sleep training that has several different approaches, and this method involves training your baby to sleep without letting him cry for an extended period of time. The no-tears method has been proven to be effective in many different situations, and truthfully there is no “right” sleep training method that works for all babies. The sleep training method that you decide on should be based on what you think your baby will respond to, and what you feel okay with as a parent.

Some babies respond well to the no tears method because it incorporates bonding and comfort, other babies may not respond to this method at all. Personality differences between babies end up the difference as to what type of sleep training method works the best. If you aren’t sure if the no tears or cry it out method will work the best, just pick one and try it out and if it doesn’t work you can always switch things up. As a new parent you may find that your first born child responds well to a no tears method, while your next child may not respond well at all for instance, so don’t be worried if it one method doesn’t seem to work at all.

baby sleeping on back

Why the No Tears Method?

The no-tears method has become a popular sleep training method for parents who don’t want to let their children cry unattended for any period of time. It is based on the idea that babies respond well to nurturing, closeness, and physical attention. Those who argue for the no tears method say that the cry it out method is too unnatural, and the no tears method helps to maintain and establish trust. The no tears sleep training method is usually organized around a nighttime ritual where the needs of your baby such as feeding and playtime are attended to prior to sleep.

The no tears method may be also more natural for parents who believe that their baby’s needs should be attended to quickly. Some proponents of the no tears method say that the cry it out method can create negative associations that can possibly be traumatic, and others disagree and say that the no tears method creates too much dependency. In general, a lot of parents feel more comfortable starting with a no tears method before a cry it out method, especially new parents, so if you aren’t sure you should probably start with a no tears sleep training method.

There are several approaches to the no tears method. Some experts recommend that there is no “one size fits all” approach and suggest that you should try different forms of bonding such as nursing, patting and rocking to get your baby to sleep. Other experts say that you shouldn’t nurse or pat or rock your baby too much and instead simply pick him up when the crying starts and putting him back to sleep once it stops, as a kind of middle ground between the no tears method and the cry it out method.

sweet newborn sleeping peacefully

Implementing the “No Tears” Method

The no tears method has several approaches, and one of the most popular approaches was detailed by parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley who wrote The No Cry Sleep Solution. Her method helped get her fourth born child into a regular sleeping pattern after he would wake four to eight times per night, and she was frustrated with the methods available to teach babies to sleep without crying. The major benefit of her no tears method is that although it requires some more initial work from the parents, there is less crying and more peaceful nights.

In her method describes some babies that fall asleep when being held and immediately wake up when they are put down. If your baby does this, the recommendation is to give her something to cuddle with such as toy bear or a blanket which will reduce the chance that she will wake up. Like other no tears approach experts she recommends establishing a regular routine involving play time or reading time, a bath, lullabies and other activities in a regular pattern each night.

The Importance Of  a Bedtime Routine 

By adding a nighttime routine, you can reduce the amount of time it takes for your baby to get to sleep. Once your baby starts nursing she will generally fall asleep quickly. Also some experts like Pantley recommend sleeping in the same room (with the baby in a crib) as a way to encourage your baby to fall asleep without crying and without separation anxiety. Not every sleep expert recommends co-sleeping because of the chance of dependency developing. Pantley like other sleep experts suggest that no tears sleep training methods should be customized for the particular family.

One of the downsides of the no tears method is that parents will have to give up some sleep for a while in order to establish the more permanent sleep patterns that can result. By getting up every time your baby cries you will have to lose a few hours of sleep every night, but you might also find that your baby responds quickly to your efforts. Some parents have found that the number of times their baby wakes up reduces in a short period of time after the no tears method has been tried, for other babies it may take several weeks. At some point parents have to decide when they want to switch sleep training methods, but the no tears method should usually be tried for at least a few months before another method is attempted.

Parents should also be aware that there is no method that will get their babies to sleep a full 9-10 hours straight without fussing. No matter what there will always be some waking during the night, but the no tears method can greatly reduce the amount of waking up at night for many babies. Aside from the no tears method parents have to be vigilant of all of the factors that can cause a baby to wake up such as TV noise, lighting, noises from outside the house, the sound of walking and other noises, and try to reduce them as much as possible.

sleeping baby and teddy

y played lTips for the “No Tears” Method

 The no tears method works well in combination with a napping and sleeping schedule, and as discussed in other parts of this report you should have a regular nighttime routine for your baby. Your baby should also get plenty to eat throughout the day which will reduce nighttime fussiness and waking up for food. It will also help to create associations that daytime is for feeding and nighttime is for sleep. Again, the more that you can establish a routine for sleeping the easier your baby will fall asleep at your preferred bed time. Here are five  tips to make it work:-

 1. Pick an earlier bed time 

Decide on a bed time that is earlier in the evening than later, around 7:00 p.m. Overtired babies will be fussier and won’t get to sleep as quickly, and there are some baby sleep experts who suggest that an earlier bed time will result in longer sleeping.

2. Don’t change your baby’s routine all at once

If you decide to change anything about your baby’s routine be sure that you do it gradually; it’s important to stick to the same routine for the most part but changes should never be done abruptly otherwise it might disorient his understanding of the bedtime routine.

3. Use “key words” Or Music to signal it’s time for sleep

No tears experts also suggest using particular soothing “key words” as simple as “sshhhh” or “sleepy time” whispered repeatedly in a soft tone. When you are rocking your baby to sleep you should repeat the same key words over and over and he will associate them with sleeping. A lullaby can be played to tell the baby that it is bedtime. 

4. Find out what your baby prefers in terms of environment

Some babies may prefer having a dim light on, and other babies prefer darker rooms. You will have to find out what type of lighting works best for him through trial and error, and you should also try different types of music or white noise to see what works the best. You might have better results getting your baby to sleep using a CD or classical music instead of a fan for white noise. Be sure that his room is not too warm or too cold. The room temperature should be between 20-22 C (68-72F) and you have to be very careful not to overheat the room. Use an indoor thermometer to track the temperature of the room.

5. Pick clothing that is comfortable and warm your baby’s blankets

In a cold climate or winter You should also make sure that the sheets are warm and you can use a heating pad to warm them up or  warm water bottle. Also pick clothing that does not cause any chafing or discomfort, and be sure that it is not too tight or too loose. Young babies often sleep better when they are swaddled, so you should learn how to swaddle your infant if you find that it works well. All of these tips will help you implement whichever no tears sleep training method that you decide to use.

Newborn baby sleeping in blue pyjamas

The “Happiest Baby” Method

 The “Happiest Baby” sleep training method is a unique method that sleep expert Harvey Karp developed in his book The Happiest Baby on the Block, and it is a unique method that combines some elements of the no tears and cry it out methods. This approach involves viewing the first few months out of the womb as the “fourth trimester” and that more of a gradual transition has to be made between the womb and the world that we live in. Because babies require special care compared to other mammals and are born with fewer developed abilities, they need a more specialized type of environment that can mimic the womb.

 Also, human babies as described by Karp are “evicted” from the womb a few months before they are ready due to their head size, to ensure that their heads don’t get stuck in the birth canal. Karp says that many parents assume that a baby needs complete peace and quiet which is actually an incorrect assumption; the sounds that a baby hears in the womb are actually very loud and active. They hear the sounds of walking and swaying and gurgling noises from their mother’s body.

 The Happiest Baby Method Incorporates Similar Sounds that Babies Hear in the Womb

This method incorporates sounds that babies hear in the womb as a way to naturally transition from the womb to this world, and other unique sleep training methods. It also takes into the account the fact that babies are cradled by the walls of their womb, but when they are alone in their nursery room with their limbs extended it is an uncomfortable position for them. The method incorporates the “5 S’s” – swaddle, side or stomach, shush, swing and suck. Each of these “S’s” is intended to make the transition from the womb to this world much more of a gradual and comfortable transition for the baby.

The 5 S’s of Karp’s method

The 5 S’s of Karp’s method are as follows:

  • Swaddle – swaddling provides babies with the security that they had in the womb and recreates that environment, and it is recommended every time the baby sleeps.
  • Side or stomach – this position is used only for soothing and not for sleeping or napping, as the stomach position is thought to possibly increase the chance of SIDS.
  • Shush – the “shhhhh” sound can be comforting to babies as they hear sounds in the womb that are similar to this noise, and you can whisper it into your baby’s ear while they cry.
  • Swing – this involves gently jiggling your baby back and forth while “shushing” them and recreates the vibrations that babies feel in the womb.
  • Suck – a pacifier works to calm your baby down many times and babies find comfort in the sucking reflex.

Karp’s method can work for a majority of babies

If one of the other methods that you have tried such as a no tears or cry it out method hasn’t worked, Karp’s sleep training method can definitely be worth investigating, as many parents have had success with it.


crying baby newborn

The “Cry it Out” Method 

The “cry it out” sleep training method is the main alternative to the “no tears” method and it involves a different approach to getting your baby to sleep – by letting her cry for a period of time, while you make sure that there is nothing actually wrong, and letting her fall back to sleep without you stepping in.  There are many sleep experts who feel that this approach can be very harmful to baby and we don’t recommend it.  Here’s why. from an article in Psychology Today. 

The best sleep training methods are the ones which take into account the need of the baby and not the parents. It is unrealistic to expect baby to adapt to adult life from the minute it is born. Parents can learn about babys needs and development to give baby the best and nost loving start in life.