Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Training: How We Taught Our Baby To Sleep

Posted by Timothy M. Wilson on Apr 21, 2021 1:08:00 AM

Adorable baby sleeping on white bed with copy space

Have you heard those horror stories of the difficult baby who just can not sleep? The baby who wakes up 20 times a night? That was OUR baby and we all suffered for over a year. We searched the internet and bought books to try to find a solution for sleep training our baby. Nothing seemed to be able to get our baby to sleep. We were frustrated, exhausted, and desperate. Then as if by magic we found the solution for sleep training our baby. Besides, we have found a solution to keep him from waking early in the morning. So, now our baby sleeps very regularly from "bedtime" to "wake up time". He will rarely wake up in between. We have the luxury of regular sleep and can cherish the wonderful night’s sleep that we are enjoying. Below I will share the secrets that we learned for sleep training our baby.

We Started with Сo-Seeping but Quickly Moved Away

Co-sleeping is a problem if you are trying to sleep train your baby

In the first months of our baby's life, we did co-sleeping. Our baby did not sleep in our bed, he slept in a bed which was attached to ours. This made nighttime breastfeeding easier for my wife.

However, our baby was waking all night long and keeping us awake. We would put him down to sleep at 8 pm and he would wake up every 15 or 20 minutes after that. A long stretch of sleep for him would be 1 hour and that was rare. We would dread going to the bedroom with him because it meant no sleep all night long.

Eventually, we moved him into his bedroom. That was the most important step we made in sleep training our baby. Sleep training is very difficult for a baby who can walk if the baby is

* not sleeping in a crib (baby cot) and

* sleeping in the same room with mom and dad.

To begin sleep training a baby, the baby must have a crib and ideally, the crib should not be in the same room as the parents.

Cry It Out Sleep Training Did Not Work For Us

Cry It Out Is A Successful Sleep Training Method For Many Parents

Many parents are very, very happy with Dr. Richard Ferber's "Cry It Out" sleep training solution. But many parents, like us, just do not have the strength to apply it as Ferber suggests.

Richard Ferber's Cry It Out Method is proven, tested, and works. But it is challenging.

* Create a ritual of putting the baby to bed (sing songs, read books, kiss everyone, etc). Perform the same bedtime ritual every night.

* Put the baby to bed and leave the room

* When the baby cries, return to comfort the baby. But each time wait a progressively longer period before returning. So, for example on the first night return after 1 minute the first time, then 2 minutes the second time, 3 minutes the third time, etc.

* Each night, wait longer and longer to return.

* Never pick the baby up.

We tried the Ferber method one night and gave up. We just did not have the strength to listen to our baby cry. He seemed in panic and he needed us. We just could not stay away. Either we failed the Ferber method or the Ferber method failed us.

Sleep Training Success With The Modified Ferber Method

We discovered a new approach to the Ferber Method

After months of exhaustion and no luck with the Ferber method, we stumbled upon a modification to the Ferber Method.

* We did a bedtime ritual as recommended by the Ferber method.

* We put our baby to sleep, left the room, and NEVER RETURNED INTO THE ROOM.

* If our baby would cry we would comfort him, FROM OUTSIDE THE ROOM.

* We would open the door put our heads inside, and say "Lay down and go to sleep" or "Everything Is Ok" or "Papa is right here".

* For the first nights, one of us would sit in a chair just outside his door and sing to our baby. We would read a magazine or work on the computer. We would open the door as often as necessary to comfort him and tell our baby to lie down and go to sleep. The good news is that our baby would lie down without crying and eventually go to sleep. Why not? Mama or Papa was there, just outside the door.

* Some nights, he would wake up and we would return to his room, stick our head in the door and say "everything is OK, go back to sleep". He always did.

* Everything was allowed to keep him calm, except once we left his room at night, we did not allow ourselves to enter his room until the next morning.

Within 3 or 4 nights, our baby stopped waking up during the evening and began to sleep longer and longer until he was sleeping through the night. We had achieved partial success!! All without the stress and tears of the Ferber method. Our approach was easier for our baby and more acceptable for our parental values.

But the next problem was that he would wake up somewhere between 5 am and 7 am and start calling us. Nothing we could do would put him back to sleep when he had decided that it was time to wake up. Our next problem was how to get our baby to sleep until "wake-up time"

Why Our Approach Was The Best Approach For Sleep Training For Us

Sleep training: offer security with no incentive to awaken

Why do we think our approach to sleep training is the best way to sleep train a child:

* If you are entering the room and offering the bottle or hugs or caresses then this is an incentive for the baby to call you. You are rewarding the baby for waking and crying with hugs, kisses, or drinks. This is their reason for waking. Your hugs, kisses, and bottles have created the sleeping pattern of nighttime waking.

* If you do not enter the baby's room, they have no incentive to call you. They get nothing out of it and have no reason to wake up.

* If you are outside of the door when they call, they have nothing to be afraid of. Mama or Papa is there. They do not know if you are always there or not. But if they call you and you stick your head in or if they can hear you singing outside of their door, you have offered your baby the security that they need to sleep, but without an incentive to wake up.

* With no reason to cry and no incentive to wake up, your baby will slowly become more secure about sleeping and will sleep longer and longer through the night.

Baby Clock: The Next Step In Sleep Training

Use A Baby Clock To Teach Your Baby When To Wake Up

The next step in sleep training our baby was to teach him when it was time to wake up. Again, this will work best if your baby is in a crib. We bought a "baby clock". What is a baby clock? It is a clock that is easily understandable by a baby.

We live in Europe and here we have a baby clock which features a "Yellow Sun" during the daytime and a "Blue Star" at night. We started using the clock before our baby was two years old and it was a failure. He simply did not understand the concept. But around two years of age, our baby learned to understand the difference in colors. As soon as he could differentiate "Blue" from "Yellow' we tried the baby clock again and it was a success!! Here is how he got it to work.

We set the clock so that it would change from "Blue Star" to "Yellow Sun" at 6 am. We told our boy to call us when he saw the yellow sun. Every morning at 6 am, he would shout out "Yellow Sun" and we would run to his bed and pick him up. We gradually extended the time by 15 or 20 minutes every day.  If we set it too late, he would not have the patience to wait and would begin to cry. We would tell him to go back to sleep and wait for the yellow sun from outside his door. Eventually, we were able to set the sun at 7 or 8 am (we have two settings and we change it depending on whether it is a school/work day or if it is a weekend). Every morning he waits until he sees the yellow sun to call us and every time he calls us (and if it is Yellow Sun) we are always IMMEDIATELY there.

There are some challenges with the baby clock. The clock can be difficult to set, but you do get used to it. Also, if the baby gets his hands on the clock, he can easily reset it. So, it is best to keep the clock up and out of reach.

But when the baby gets the idea of how the baby clock works, it is a lifesaver for tired parents.

Caution: Remember that if you use the baby clock, you are entering an agreement with your baby. You are saying to the baby, "wait until the clock says it is wake-up time to call us". Your side of the agreement is "When it is wake-up time, Mama or Papa will be there". DO NOT make the mistake of breaking the deal. If you let your baby wait for you when it is wake-up time, why should they respect their part of the agreement? Also, do not set the clock too late. No baby is going to wait until 10 am to call you.

When Sleep Training Fails

If your baby has sleep apnea, they may need a machine to help with breathing while sleeping. Sometimes, infant sleep apnea will go away as your child grows and develops more. Other times medication is needed to treat the underlying cause of the apnea.

Your child’s doctor will closely monitor your baby’s apnea as they grow to see if further intervention or even surgery is needed.

Watching your infant struggle to sleep through the night can cause any parent to feel overwhelmed. At the Alaska Sleep Clinic, we understand how overwhelming and downright frightening it can be to watch your baby struggle to sleep.

We are here to help you find solutions to get your baby — and you — sleeping peacefully. For a free pediatric phone consultation, click the link below.

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About the author: Timothy M. Wilson works as a content provider for He is interested in self-development and spiritual awakening. So he likes keeping up with modern tendencies of personal development. It helps him plan ahead and have time to do everything.

Topics: baby, sleep training, babies

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