While it seems there are a vast array of sleep training methods to pick from, many of them are almost identical when you read closely between the lines. Nearly every popular sleep training method involves putting your child down awake, visiting with them in some way while they protest falling asleep, and ultimately allowing them to fall asleep unassisted. Read on to find out why sticking to a check-in time when sleep training is VITAL!
How Often Should I Check-In With My Child?
When your child is protesting falling asleep unassisted, I would urge you to pick a certain number of minutes for a check-in interval and stick to it. This process is then repeated overnight and for naps.
It appears most babies do best with check-in intervals of at least 10 minutes apart in length. However, if you feel the need to check in more often, do so.
I have two cautions:
- Don’t start with a shorter check in interval and work up to longer intervals. This almost always delays falling asleep. Pick one interval time and stick with it!
- If you choose a shorter interval time (ie. shorter than 10 minutes), know that this may also delay falling asleep as it can take the body some time to relax. And if you go to your child too soon during sleep training, you may be hindering them from falling asleep. Imagine yourself almost fast asleep when your partner comes in and taps you on the shoulder to ask you a question about tomorrow’s schedule. This disruption would most likely “wake” you back up, and restart the process of falling asleep over again. That’s how it is for your child.
Should I Pick My Child Up During Sleep Training Check-Ins?
If your child is of the age where they are unable to sit up or stand up on their own, feel free to touch them during their checks. But avoid picking them up, or staying longer than about 30 seconds.
If your child is old enough to sit or stand on their own, touching them during checks almost always makes things harder and leads to more crying. Not less.
Staying about 2-3 feet away from the crib, and for no longer than about 30 seconds, can often do the trick to getting your older baby sleeping as quickly as possible.
Check-ins are just one, small piece of the whole sleep training puzzle. To learn all of my success-inspiring, sleep training steps, check out my online program.
Hi Natalie, My 13 month old has gotten very used to me rocking him to sleep before putting him down in the crib. In general, he has been a good napper and sleeper at night but since we got back from vacation, he got used to sleeping in our bed and has been protesting his crib. AND, I’ve been rocking him still to sleep but the second I go to put him down in his crib, he wakes up and starts crying. This has pushed me into the space where I am finally ready to sleep train. We started last night with bedtime. He cried for an hour, as he is very strong willed, and then stood in his crib and fussed or was quiet for an additional hour and a half before he finally gave in and went to sleep. Then he slept through the night and was quiet in his crib till we got him around 6:30am this morning. Now, I have been trying the same things with nap times today. Nap time #1, he cried for an hour and no nap. I got him up and fed him. Then while we were doing solids at lunch time he started falling asleep in his high chair so I took him upstairs and put him in his crib for nap attempt #2, but he’s been crying for almost an hour again and still not going down to sleep. Should I give him milk when the hour is up and then try again a half hour later for another nap attempt? And if no naps are successful today, should I try to put him to sleep earlier tonight than his typical 7/7:30 bedtime? I am so desperate and have cried many tears. Thank you for your time.
Hi Natalie, my 10 month old baby Josephine is having hard time falling asleep during this sleep training. She sits up in the crib and cries, and I go in every 10 min to lay her down, pat her. But she sits up and cries again right away. I have postpartum depression and am on a medication. I don’t know if this could play a role in her sleep at all. Also, she has been teething for the last 5 months, and we are mostly using teething oil on her gums.
The physical interaction is the issue. As long as she’s safe, at this age I’d stay 3-4 feet away during checks. Regarding the PPD, I am so sorry to hear you are struggling, and I do not think it is playing a role in her sleep disruption (though I’d need to know more to make a better assessment).
Thank you much for your response. I am on 25 mg Sertraline since April 27th, and I take the pill in the late morning to avoid having insomnia at night. I started Josephine’s sleep training yesterday because I’ve been exhausted holding her at night and co-sleeping with her. Let me tell you how I got to this point. She slept through the night before her teething started at 5 months old, from 10-11 pm until 7-8 am or so. She also had 3 naps a day, sleeping a total of 11-12 hours in a 24 hour period. Because of teething, her sleep became shallow, and she would wake up when I tried to put her down for naps. I started holding her during all naps, but at night she could still sleep mostly on her own. Her teething pain has been the worst between 10 pm – midnight, and that’s why she has been going to bed very late, after midnight. She started waking up to breastfeed a few times too. I got tired of staying up and waiting for her to eat so I started to take her with me in bed and sleep while she is eating. I guess she got used to being held part of the night or sleep on me after feeding, that now she wants to be held whole night long. When I attempt to put her down, she wakes up and cries. But holding her whole night is so tiring as it doesn’t allow me to fully relax. I couldn’t do this anymore, and I started your sleep training method yesterday, after watching it on Youtube. I made a mistake though of starting with her last yesterday’s nap, instead of at night. I put her down for a nap, and she cried for an hour, with me checking in on her. After that she wasn’t sleepy anymore, and she basically skipped her last nap. Then I put her down at 9 :15 pm, and after crying for 40 min or so, she fell asleep until 11:20. Then I breastfed her, and she cried for 1.5 hours and slept from 1:15 until 4 am. Then she was up until 6:15 crying off and on, and I picked her up at 6:15 am. I put her down for a nap at 8:20 am, and after crying she fell asleep at 9 am, only for 10-15 min. After that, I tried to put her down for naps at 11:50 am and at 2 pm today. Both times she cried for an hour, but didn’t fall asleep. Like you advised, during my check-ins I stopped laying her down from the sitting position, but so far it didn’t make a difference. Also, she has been gagging herself with her hand in the mouth for the last 10 days or so, sometimes causing vomiting. And during one of the attempted naps today she vomited her solid meal that she had earlier. I know I should discuss some of these things with her pediatrician, but we haven[‘t seen her for several months now. Our medical insurance that we’ve had last year is no longer available to us, and Josephine now has MediCal, but her Dr doesn’t accept it. Thank you for your attention and help, if you can help us.
I read your book and it made so much sense. It was working well for the first week, my 10 month old daughter was sleeping from 7pm-6am!. Then she started waking in the middle of the night again around midnight (despite putting herself to sleep). Nothing seems to be wrong. Check ins only make her more hysterical. She eventually goes back to sleep after approx 2 hours of continuous crying.
Am I doing something wrong?
Naps are decent – twice a day with easy put down, though one of the naps will only last for one cycle.
How many more nights should I persist before accepting that sleep training doesn’t work for my child?