Re: I want to try sleep training with my baby. How exactly should I go about it?
The goal is to have your child fall asleep independently in his or her crib, but how you get to that point is up to you.
You can practice the tougher way, putting your child to bed and checking on them periodically. Check as frequently as you wish -- there's no magic number of how long to wait. Within three to five nights, you're bound to see a dramatic improvement in the bedtime routine.
That's the quick and dirty approach, but some parents can't tolerate it and take a slower approach. For three nights, you can sit next to the crib until your baby falls asleep, then three nights across the room, then in the doorway, and then in the hallway. Both methods bring you to the same place; it's just about how quickly you want to do it.
When you check on your baby, it's better do it consistently, rather than waiting until they really crank up the tears. If you wait until then, you're reinforcing and showing them that if they scream really loud, you'll come. When you check in, just reassure them quietly and then leave -- "It's night night time, I love you, see you in the morning." You don't have to leave them alone forever -- it's too painful for everyone, and I'd worry about the baby too much. You don't need to worry about sleep training in the middle of the night -- you can always respond when they cry in the night. The majority of babies will naturally start sleeping through the night within two to three weeks of starting sleep training.
Dr. Jodi Mindell, PhD, is the author of Sleeping Through The Night: How Infants, Toddlers and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep, and the Associate Director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.