Written by Editorial Team
Bedtime fading sleep training method is one of the gentlest sleep training methods, which involves hardly any crying. It uses your baby’s sleeping pattern and cues to set a bedtime. If you’re looking for a method in which you can pick your baby up whenever they need to and provide comfort, then this is the method for you.
This method is also useful when you have a new routine coming up and need to move your baby to a new sleeping schedule. The basis of this method is that bedtime should be an easy and happy time for both the parent and the baby, and not include any major protests and crying. This method can also be used to train babies for nap time during the day.
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This method is based on the understanding that only when a baby is tired will it lie down willingly to sleep. In this method, you must observe and understand your baby’s sleep patterns, cues and timelines. The trick is in finding that sweet spot in the schedule for bedtime.
If your baby’s bedtime is not in line with the one you desire, then this method could help you adjust the baby’s internal clock to the bedtime you desire. Initially, you make your baby or infant go to bed a little later than usual, late enough that your baby looks more tired than usual and has a strong urge to sleep. Then you slowly pull or push the time to adjust the bedtime. And in a few days or weeks, your baby should start sleeping at a time that works for you.
There is no rule about your presence in the room when the baby is going to sleep, so if you need to pick up and comfort your baby, you can. This ensures it’s a no-cry and gentle method. Since the baby reaches a point where they are sleepy already, they will sleep with less fuss than usual.
An interesting point to note is that this method works to improve willingness and compliance at the time to sleep. It is not a sleep training method to solve other aspects of infant and toddler sleep, like waking up frequently. It aims at solving the physiological reason behind resisting sleeping.
According to several surveys and some studies, this method works because through this, parents gradually teach their babies to sleep without other dependencies like being rocked or being held, and all this without any stress or crying.
Gradually shifting the bedtime by closely assessing the baby’s sleepiness helps the fading method work and also last. Through this method, babies not only start to take less time in going to sleep but also reduce the number of times they wake up at night.
The trick, however, is in consistency like any other sleep training method. The same bedtime routine daily also teaches the baby to start associating those actions with bedtime.
Bedtime fading sleep training works by allowing the baby to naturally fall into a routine. Though this method takes time, it is shown to have long-lasting results. This method works by letting babies gradually shift their sleep time forward. This means you are giving the baby enough time to gradually change their body’s circadian rhythm.
Since this method is gentle and doesn’t involve too much crying, you may find your baby having a positive association with bedtime and their sleep routine. Hence this method of sleep training works especially for babies who have a hard time falling and staying asleep or wake up multiple times during the night.
Bedtime-fading method has several benefits, the biggest one being babies going down to sleep eventually naturally with no fuss or fights.
Since this method is a gentle sleep training method, it doesn’t include crying at bedtime, avoiding any negative sleep association.
If you’ve always been uncomfortable with cry-it-out, then this method is gentle and doesn’t leave the baby unattended. In the beginning, the baby might be cranky because the routine is upset but it gets better with every day.
The method is known to help both parents’ and baby’s emotional health. A bedtime that is not in sync with your schedule or what would be ideal for the baby can cause undue stress for both of you. Babies are often crankier when overtired. By learning about the baby’s sleep cues and gently pushing the time back and then forth, you’ll help the baby sleep better.
The fading method helps a baby start sleeping independently with fewer waking. Since the baby goes down happily and when very tired, they wake less often and sleep better.
Though this sleep training method is gentle on babies compared to other methods, it comes with its own set of disadvantages.
One of the biggest challenges of this method is the time it takes. The bedtime-fading method can take between three weeks to three months to work. It is gentle and quiet, but a very slow sleep training method.
This method is also best for older babies since it will only work on babies who can sleep without nursing. You can only start this sleep training method once your baby is 6 months old or older, by when your baby can make it through the night without a feeding.
Are you planning to use the fading method to train your baby to sleep? Then here are some pointers to ensure that you utilize this method fully to attain good results.
Before you begin the bedtime-fading method, it’s helpful to keep a note of your baby’s sleep routine. Understand your baby’s sleep cues when they start to look drowsy or tired, and other cues of wanting to go down for a nap or sleep. Once you have the log, it’ll be easy to gauge the times to begin the bedtime routine. It would also help you devise a plan about whether to pull the bedtime forth or push it.
It’s important that your little one is tired by your ideal bedtime. An afternoon nap might get in the way of that. It might be helpful to avoid afternoon or later naps, and if it’s part of the routine at the moment, then you could try that it’s a short cat nap.
Every baby has its own way of communicating, that it’s tired and needs rest or to head to bed. Through your log, you’ll learn more about your baby’s cues. Rubbing of eyes, pulling their ears, fussing or yawning are some of the most common cues that a baby is sleepy. An overtired baby would also not go to bed easily. So it’s recommended that if you see your baby communicating their sleep cues, you should start their bedtime routine.
Keeping the bedtime routine relaxed and calming helps babies prepare for bed more happily. Once you know the cues, you could begin the routine at the time that is closer to when you’d need the bedtime to be, which could even be ahead of the usual time.
With all sleep-training methods, being consistent with the method every day for the duration of the training is imperative. For a baby to get into a routine, they need to follow it consistently.
In this method, you can encourage and comfort the baby until it settles down. It is important to let the baby know that you’re close by and that the baby is safe. If you want you could leave the baby for a few seconds to see if it self-soothes, but if it doesn’t, then you should pick your baby up.
To arrive at your preferred bedtime, you should begin by moving the bedtime 15 minutes earlier or later and follow that for a couple of nights before moving it by another 15 minutes. Gradually reaching your preferred bedtime will be easier for both you and the baby.
Even though this method could take up to three months, if you see absolutely no change in your baby feeling tired by the shifted sleep time within a week or two, it might be time to reassess the method. Just like individuals, all babies are also different, and if the method doesn’t fit right with your baby, then it’s best to follow your parental instinct and try a different sleep-training method.
You could even pause for a few weeks and then restart. Often our babies are in a growth spurt phase or adjusting to something else in the environment that we are not aware of, and in this time a new sleep method won’t show any progress.
Bedtime fading sleep training method doesn’t have many rules and is meant to be an easy and fuss-free sleep training method. Gradually reaching an ideal bedtime is an easy process for both the parent and the baby.
Bedtime fading method requires the baby to be able to sleep without the need of feeding through the night. For this reason, it’s recommended to start this method either after the baby is 6 months old or when the baby reaches the point of no longer needing to nurse for feeding purposes at night.
It can take from three weeks to three months to bring the baby’s sleep to your ideal routine.
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