Written by Editorial Team
Sleeping is such a natural and often well-liked phenomenon for all of us that. Most new parents share a common agony – sleep deprivation. If you too need a break from sleepless nights and the dangerously sleepy look, you could look at sleep training your baby. Sleep training is often equated to “crying it out“, but there are several other methods of training a baby as well. Chair Sleep Training Method is one of the gentle methods that allows the parent or the caregiver to be more involved in the process.
Sleep training is teaching your baby how to fall asleep on its own, or at times even how to stay asleep. Most parents do get worried about sleep training as much as they fear the loop of making the baby sleep and managing all the wake-ups. However, it depends on what works for you and your family.
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This method that involves sitting in a chair is named after this aspect as the chair method. It was discovered by Kim West, a family therapist, during her own experiences with her babies. It is also referred to as the Sleep Lady Shuffle method.
Chair method is known as one of the most gradual sleep-training methods, with most babies taking up to two weeks also to settle into the new direction. A parent or the primary caregiver places the baby in the crib at bedtime and then sits next to the crib in a chair. One would sit in the chair, starting close by and then moving further away, until the baby is asleep.
You’ll sit near the crib, comforting the baby if necessary but continue to gradually move the chair towards the door every night before finally being out of the room.
Chair method of sleep training is a gradual process that requires time, patience and consistency. You could follow these steps to train your baby.
Follow your baby’s usual bedtime routine. Just ensure that the baby remains awake.
Put your baby down in the crib while it’s still drowsy but awake.
Place your chair next to the crib while the baby is still awake and register this act.
If the baby fusses, you could use soft verbal reassurances, like saying “I’m here” or shushing as well. You could even comfort the baby with gentle patting or holding the hand. However, it’s not recommended that you pick the baby up.
Leave the room after the baby is asleep.
If the baby fusses, return to the room after waiting a bit. Repeat the above steps until the baby is asleep.
After three nights, shift your seat a bit away from the crib. And from this day, to reassure the baby, gently shush the baby when needed from the new spot. It’s not recommended to move the chair closer to the crib again.
After another three days, move the chair further from the previous night’s point. With most babies, it’ll take two to three nights to get used to a certain distance from the chair. Post that, move the chair a bit further. Depending on how you and your baby are doing, you could even move it outside the room if it’s possible to stay within the view of the baby. With every move, decrease the reassurances.
In about two weeks or so, you would’ve moved out of the room. And when your baby starts dozing off without any reassurances, it’s safe to assume that your baby has gotten used to the new method and could sleep independently.
When to train your baby using the chair method depends a lot upon your baby’s sleep patterns. However, in general, the recommended age at which one can sleep-train a baby is between 4 to 6 months of age. Babies are developmentally ready for training by this age.
By this point, your baby would have some form of a sleep routine and would not need to eat as often as earlier. This is also the point by which being comforted by the parent to fall asleep has not yet become a clutch or an association.
According to sleep therapists, chair sleep training is more effective for babies who have co-slept or who find the caregiver or parent’s presence soothing. It is, however, a gentle approach and could take more time than other methods. One needs to be consistent and keep patience. It could take from one to a few weeks depending on the parents, and the baby.
It’s a good option for parents who prefer gradual and perhaps gentle training. But often some babies cry during this sleep training as well when they wake up and notice their parents’ absence. And some who knew that the parent is there would cry until being picked up. The training works faster if parents can soothe through verbal reassurance and light patting, and not give into their tears.
It’s crucial to note that for a few babies, seeing their caregivers close by but not responding further stimulates them leading to more crying. In these cases, it could take a bit longer.
Just like no two adults are the same, neither are babies. Each baby has its own personality and sleep preferences. Some parents may manage to sleep train within a night or two, while some might need a month or more. However, sleep therapists say that it mostly takes between three to seven days to complete sleep training. For a method as gradual as the chair method, up to two weeks is considered normal.
Success largely depends on finding the kind of sleep training that works for you and your baby. Being consistent with the method is very important while sleep training to help the baby start associating sleep with it.
It’s worth discussing with your pediatrician as well before beginning sleep training to understand if your baby is ready for training. Maybe discuss if you are ready to sleep train as well since success depends on your tolerance towards tears. If even after two weeks, you feel that your baby is not yet independent, it’s again worth discussing with the pediatrician.
Here are some tips to help chair sleep train your baby in an easier way.
The chair method doesn’t work for everyone. For some babies, having their parents in the room close by but not responding to them is too confusing and often too much stimulation, depending on the baby’s age. If your baby seems to get more dysregulated with every passing day during the training, it may be worth a relook. According to therapists, some babies could get so escalated that they can’t calm themselves down. If your baby is having trouble adapting to the chair method, then you may want to try a different sleep training method or speak to the pediatrician.
The chair sleep training method is a gentle approach that requires more patience and consistency because it is a slow process. For parents who decide to try this method, it is imperative to note that this method needs a commitment of full two weeks because most babies take that long to learn through this approach. Most babies take comfort in having their parents close by but for some, it’s overstimulating. Depending on how your baby responds to this training after the first three to six days, you could decide whether it is the right method for you and your baby.
The success of the chair sleep training method depends on your and your baby’s personality. It works best with babies who have co-slept and take comfort in having a parent close by. It’s a gentle approach and mostly takes up to two weeks to start showing results.
According to many pediatricians and child therapists, four to six months is a good age to start sleep training as by now the baby has some routine and doesn’t need to wake to eat as often at night. Developmentally also this is an age when the baby could start responding to training. However, it’s always best to discuss with the pediatrician before starting any sleep training.
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