Sleep Training Methods and How to Choose the Right One for You


Sleep training doesn’t always mean you are “Crying It Out.” There are multiple sleep training methods and multiple variations within each method. The key is to find the right sleep training method for you and your baby. Below I will identify the most common methods for sleep training, when I like to use them, how long it takes to see results with each method, and the pros and cons of each method. But make sure you read to the end of the article, because I am also sharing my secret tools that I use with all my sleep clients to pair them up with the perfect sleep training method in order for them to be successful at sleep training!

The Chair Method (Or No-Cry Sleep Solution)

How does it work?

In the chair method the parent is essentially camping out in a chair in the bedroom with their child until the child falls asleep independently. The level of involvement from the parent varies, but generally, the less involvement from the parent the quicker the child will understand that it is time to sleep. Parents could possible soothe the child by talking, patting, or even picking the child up. As the child adjust to the new routine, parents will gradually decrease their response or interaction with the child. Then, about every 3 days, the parent will gradually move “the chair” closer and closer to the door, and eventually out of the room.

Who is this best for?

While many sleep consultants advertise a No-Cry Sleep Solution they are actually implementing this method. There is often lots of crying using this method (especially from younger babies), but because it is hands on and the parent is with the child every step of the way, many parents choose this method to help ease their own anxiety about leaving their baby to fall asleep independently.

I find the success of this method varies greatly from child to child. Many babies struggle to understand why the parent is there but unwilling to give them what they want and end up crying more from this approach than others. However, for a toddler, who has been co-sleeping or falling asleep with sleep aides, I find this method is often a perfect fit. Toddlers are old enough to understand limits and expectations, and while they may not like the new plan, this slow approach gives them the support they need to adjust every step of the way.

How long does it take?

The more gentle the method the longer it can take. This method is very slow. Parents are only making one small change every 3-ish days. Because of this, 100% completion can take weeks or possibly months depending on how co-dependent the child was before and how quickly the child adjusts to each change. Nighttime sleep always improves first, and then naps will improve gradually over time.

Pick Up/Put Down Method

How does it work?

After your bedtime routine, you will put your baby in the crib wide awake and leave the room. Once you leave the room and while you wait for your baby to fall asleep you can conduct checks. These checks can happen at certain timed intervals or when the crying and resistance reaches a certain intensity. A check will consist of 1-2 minutes of consoling and then laying the child back down wide awake and leaving again.

Who is this best for?

This method is much more direct than the chair method and yet offers many opportunities for parent involvement. This may be a good fit if you suffer from high anxiety when your baby cries. This method works best with babies younger than 6 months. Older babies and especially toddlers often receive too much stimulation from this approach and will get more wound up after a check which can cause delayed sleep extending the process out even further.

How long does it take?

This method can take 1-2 weeks to see nighttime sleep improve depending on the age of the baby and the frequency of checks by the parent. The farther the checks are spaced out the sooner you will see results. I have seen some families take longer than a month to see results because the frequency of checks does not allow enough t