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Toddler Sleep Training Methods

Updated on May 11, 2013

Sleep Training Your Toddler

There is so much controversy surrounding the sleep training debate. Everyone has their own opinions on what is right and wrong. This article is not going to add to the debate. This is a simple explanation of the different methods available to help train your child for healthy sleeping patterns. Every child and every parent is different. The best method is the one that works for your child and the rest of the family.

Toddler Sleep Problems

Believe it or not, your toddler's sleep problems may not be a sign that there is something wrong with your child. Sometimes, your child just needs the right kind of sleep training that works for them. Sleep training can help to avoid some of these problems:

  • Cries hysterically when you put him/her down to sleep to the point where it makes them get sick.
  • Your 2 or 3 year old still can't go to sleep unless they are in bed with you.
  • Your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder.
  • Your toddler still does not sleep through the night or wakes multiple times.
  • Your toddler refuses to sleep at night and is tired all day long.
  • Your toddler constantly tries to climb out of their crib.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution

The No-Cry Sleep Solution was created by "Parenting" editor, Elizabeth Pantley. Her approach is very gentle and gradual to ease your child into it. The technique includes rocking and soothing your baby to drowsiness before putting your child in bed and responding immediately if your baby cries. Pantley even urges you to keep very detailed records of bed time, nap time, and sleep duration.

The Cry-it-Out Method

The Cry it Out (CIO) method was created by Dr. Richard Ferber, and is also referred to as the Ferber Method or the Progressive-Waiting Approach. Ferber recommends not using the CIO until your child is at least 5-6 months old. At this age, he or she is capable of sleeping 10 hours without needing to wake up in the middle of the night to feed. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this sleep training method but there is nothing wrong with it if it works for your child. Parents who use this method believe that using any of the no-cry methods will cause their child to become "spoiled" or "dependent" on them to fall asleep. The goal is to teach your child to calm and soothe themselves to sleep. Dr. Ferber uses increasing longer waiting period to respond to the crying child starting at as little as 3 minutes.

Number of Minutes to Wait Before Responding to Your Child

1st Wait
2nd Wait
3rd & on Waits
3 min.
5 min.
10 min.
5 min.
10 min.
12 min.
10 min.
12 min.
15 min.
12 min.
15 min.
17 min.
15 min.
17 min.
20 min.
17 min.
20 min.
25 min.
20 min.
25 min.
30 min.

The Dr. Sears Method

Pediatrition William Sears, along with his family, have developed a specific method of sleep training. Dr. Sears is also the author of "The Baby Sleep Book". He uses techniques requiring physical closeness and comfort to make falling asleep a positive experience for everyone involved. He is an advocate for co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and rocking your child to sleep. This method is slow and steady and requires patience to teach your child how to sleep on his or her own schedule.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

Tracy Hogg, a Registered Nurse, is the creator of "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer". She has the same general idea as Dr. Sears; that sleep should be a positive experience. However, the methods to get this done are different. Her method borders between the Cry it out method and attachment parenting. She does not recommend using anything that the child might associate with sleep such as a bottle, breastfeeding, or rocking. She does suggest that you respond very promptly when your child cries. Pick your child up, soothe them, and put them back down to sleep. This should happen as many times as necessary but not long enough for the child to actually fall asleep.


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    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 4 years ago from Georgia country

      Very helpful and interesting hub. With both of my children I use a combination of the No-Cry-Method and the Dr. Sears Method. This works for us.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I am sure many parents will find this hub helpful. I used the Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, and found it useful for my family. But like you said each child and family is different. Voted up.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is interesting! I think it is different for every child and every parent. What works for one may not work for the other. I did not face much problem with my children, when they were small. But I have seen some parents feeling miserable, as their child won't sleep at night.

      Your hub will be very helpful to those parents, who have small children.

      Voted up and useful!