Once you’ve made the decision to start teaching independent sleep skills, the next big decision is what sleep learning approach to use.
If you’ve spent any time on the internet researching “sleep training methods” or “approaches to sleep learning” then you know there are many different ways to go about helping your little one learn independent sleep skills. It can be tricky and even stressful to try and figure out what is going to be the best fit for your family.
It also begs the question of whether or not you have to stick with whatever approach you chose. Especially if it seems like it‘s not working.
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about:
What are the different sleep training or sleep learning approaches?
Whether we are talking about “sleep training” or “sleep learning” all the approaches out there fall somewhere on the spectrum of “full cry it out” to “no-cry”.
First of all, it can be helpful to differentiate between “sleep training” and “sleep learning”. If you are not sure about the difference, I highly recommend checking out my blog post “sleep training vs sleep learning”.
- Accelerated/Full CIO
- Modified Accelerated/Modified CIO
- Modified Gradual/Modified Modified CIO
- Gradual/No Cry
Even if you choose an approach that has an element of CIO, it is just a strategy. Our method encompasses many different strategies such as preventing overtiredness, optimizing schedules, finding wake window sweet spots, optimizing the sleep environment, being cognisant of meeting sensory needs, and tuning into exactly what your baby needs to be successful. Our goal is always to provide you with an approach that is a good fit for you and your family.
How do I know what the best sleep learning approach is?
The simple answer here is that the best sleep learning approach is the one that’s the best fit for YOUR baby. Of course the approach that feels like the best fit for YOU is also important and should be taken into consideration when choosing which approach to start with, however, if it becomes clear that approach is not ideal for your little one, then it is worth pivoting to a different approach.
If you are unsure of what the best approach will be for you and your baby, we have created a quiz to help you choose! The quiz also gives you tips on how to know to pivot to a particular approach and how to know if you should pivot away from that approach! You can access the quiz in the 4-24 Month Content Library after you purchase!
How do I know if the sleep learning approach I chose is working?
Sleep learning works when we are in our child’s zone of proximal development. To learn more about sleep learning and the zone of proximal development, check out this blog post! Essentially, you know you are in your little one’s zone of proximal development and that sleep learning is working if you see progress!
But what does progress look like?
First of all, progress is not linear! It’s very normal for the sleep learning process to be a little clunky.
That being said, here are a few indicators to know if the specific approach you chose is working:
1. Accelerated/Full CIO
If you are using the accelerated/Full CIO approach we usually see progress in 3-5 days. Progress can look like initiating sleep independently within the first 10-20 min, consolidating night sleep, naps beginning to lengthen, and a reduction in the degree/amount of protest.
2. Modified Accelerated/Modified CIO
If you are using the Modified Accelerated/Modified CIO approach we usually see progress in 3-5 days. Progress can look like initiating sleep independently within the first 10-20 min, consolidating night sleep, naps beginning to lengthen, and a reduction in the degree/amount of protest.
3. Modified Gradual/Modified Modified CIO
If you are using the Modified Gradual/Modified Modified CIO approach we usually see progress in 7 days. Progress can look like initiating sleep independently within the first 10-20 min, consolidating night sleep, naps beginning to lengthen, and a reduction in the degree/amount of protest.
4. Gradual/No Cry
If you are using the Gradual/No Cry approach we usually see progress in 4-6 weeks. Progress can look like your baby is getting the amount of sleep they need (with support!!), and that your baby is happy and content throughout the day, and well-rested. After 6-8 weeks we usually see babies being able to spend more time in the crib sleeping or falling asleep in their crib while you are spending less time soothing them beside the crib.
It is really hard to give an accurate timeline for the Gradual/No Cry approach as it is VERY individualized and there are lots of different sleep goals that could be part of the Gradual/No Cry approach (such as “provide less support to sleep” vs “fall asleep independently with only 1 night waking”).
What do I do if the sleep learning approach I chose isn’t working?
If you are not seeing progress that matches the approach you chose, then it is time to re-evaluate the approach. Remember, every child can get better sleep! We just need to help them learn in a way that works for them, and meet all of their needs.
The first step is to determine what pivots need to be made in order for sleep learning to be in your little one’s zone of proximal development. It may mean that the Modified Gradual or the Gradual approach would be a better fit.
It could also not be working because there is a missing piece. Essentially meaning that there is something else at play that is hindering your little one from learning independent sleep skills. If there is another piece of the puzzle at play, we keep playing detective!
Recap on how to pick your sleep learning approach
Everyone can get better sleep. There are always things we can do to improve your little one’s sleep.
We start by choosing an approach to sleep learning that feels like a good fit and then we either see progress or get information. If we get information then we use that to make tweaks to our sleep learning plan and/or pivot to a different approach.
My 4-24 Months Content Library:
- Has a quiz to help you choose the best approach to start with
- Walks you through all 4 different sleep learning approaches
- Teaches you how to tailor each approach to best fit your baby and family
We also offer one-on-one consultations! We would love to work with you to answer your questions, create an individualized sleep learning plan, and navigate any bumps along the way! Check out the 4-24 Months Content Library here and all of our consultation options here.