Mention the words "cry it out" and you're likely to be met with glares and harsh judgements, but many parents believe it's the only option to get their baby to sleep better. If you're not comfortable will the thought of letting your baby cry for too long, but also don't want them in your bed every night, there are other options that the cut and dry cry it out method. One such method, called the fading, or camp out method, is a gentle version of cry it out. But what is the fading sleep training method exactly? No matter where you fall on the sleep-training spectrum, this approach might just be for you.
Contrary to popular belief, the term cry it out hardly every refers to simply leaving your child alone to cry themselves to sleep. According to Baby Center, cry it out refers to any sleep training method that says it's OK to let a child cry for a specified length of time — even if it's as short as a few minutes. And the fading method is essentially a modified cry it out.
According to the Baby Sleep Site, the fading method is very gentle and can usually be done with little to no crying at all. In this approach, parents simply lessen their involvement in getting baby to go to sleep gradually over a period of weeks, allowing the baby to do more and more on their own.
The ideal age for sleep training your baby is around five months, according to Parents. Although good habits like establishing a calming bedtime routine and laying them down to sleep, instead of always holding them, can be started at just a few weeks old.
Baby Center noted there are two main ways of approaching the fading method: "camping out" and timed check-ins. For the camp out approach, the parent would simply sit with their child until they fall asleep (with the occasional pat or touch to comfort them.) After a few days, the parent would move further away, sitting until the child sleeps. Over time, the goal is to be able to lay your child down and walk out of the room while your child falls asleep.
In the timed check-in approach, the parent would set an alarm, usually for around five minutes, and go in to comfort their child, repeating this until they sooth themselves to sleep. The parent would very slowly increase the amount of time they're away, until the child doesn't fuss at all and goes right to sleep.
If it sounds too simple to be true, it shouldn't, because according to Kim West, author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight and sleep expert, parents in the sleep training method act as a coach, not a crutch, in helping their child form positive sleep associations. Ensuring that their sleep will last longer, and that it stays that way.