If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.
All the items listed below in “WHAT A PARENT CAN DO” contribute to the prevention of sleep problems developing in the first place; the earlier you start, the more likely your success. All of the items listed below in “WHAT A PARENT CAN DO” also contribute to the treatment of sleep problems, but they might not be sufficient. Specific family circumstances (Blog Posts 14 and 17) and individual differences in babies (Blog Post 20) might make this difficult to accomplish and a sleep problem (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, bedtime resistance) might develop in your child.
Two safe and effective treatment strategies that do not involve letting your child cry are ‘Fading’ and ‘Check and Console’ (Blog post 19).
Two safe (Blog Post 21) and effective treatment strategies that do involve letting your child cry are ‘Graduated Extinction’ and ‘Extinction’ (Blog 22).
Because of differences in specific family circumstances and individual differences among babies, it is difficult to give specific advice regarding which method best suits a particular family (Blog Post 21). Nevertheless, here are some general observations that might help you:
Here are the published facts about the different methods:
Neither Graduated Extinction nor Extinction will work if:
Real life events will occasionally disrupt your child’s sleep and a sleep debt might occur. A reset is an extremely early bedtime (for example, 5:30 PM) that is strictly enforced for one night only. A reset might be needed just a few times a year or more often, depending on the specific circumstances of the family (Blog Posts 14 and 20).
My observation is that families who choose Graduated Extinction or Extinction are more able or willing to do resets when needed so that the child continues to maintain healthy sleep habits. The reason(s) for this might be because of the parental factors (Blog Posts 17 and 18) that originally allowed them to choose these methods and/or the rapid success they experienced when they originally tried these methods gave them confidence that allowing crying again, for one night, would not harm their child. In contrast, families who choose Fading appear to be less likely to employ resets and thus, they are buffeted by periods of healthy sleep habits interrupted by periods of struggling with unhealthy sleep.
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