Baby sleep programs vs. gentle methods

You long for more sleep at night and are looking for the right way to bring your child closer to sleeping? Learn more about sleep programs, like the Every Child Can Learn to Sleep plan, and gentler alternatives, here. We compare two approaches for you and show you the advantages and disadvantages.

At what age are sleep training programs useful?

Experts advise not to start using a sleep program before the sixth month, because only then is the child able to implement the desired behavior, such as sleeping through, according to his sleep rhythm and sleep behavior :

  • Up until the age of six months , it is perfectly normal for a baby to turn night into day. It first has to learn to distinguish between these and also needs regular meals at night. The use of a sleep learning program is therefore not recommended. At this point, you can only begin to lay a good foundation for your child’s healthy sleep patterns. A good start is the “ 10 tips: This is how your baby learns to sleep ”. They help you to avoid sleep problems right from the start.
  • From the sixth month of life , a baby is physically developed enough to spend the night without additional food. At this age, they can already tell the difference between day and night. So it’s theoretically able to sleep through the night. According to many advisors, long periods of falling asleep and nocturnal calming actions could be a thing of the past from this point on. From this point on, you can take specific sleep training programs or other measures to change certain sleeping habits of your child.

Is a sleep program necessary?

Even if it is often suggested to many young parents by those around them: the use of sleep-learning programs and the strict rules that often go with it when it comes to sleeping are not a must. So only tackle changes if you and your partner really want it. Maybe someone from your environment will suggest that something has to happen because, for example, it is not good that your child sleeps in your bed or that it should definitely be able to fall asleep on its own. As long as you as parents and your child can cope well with the existing sleeping situation and you feel good about it, there is absolutely no reason to change anything.

A sleep learning program is therefore not a must, but an “emergency program” that is used in the event of problems.

Sleep tutorials vs. gentle methods

However, if as a parent you feel that a change is urgently needed, there are many different approaches and advice to choose from. Because when it comes to sleep in particular, the opinions of parents and unfortunately also experts often differ widely. To make it easier for you to make a decision, we have compared two well-known approaches below: the sleep learning program from the classic “Every child can learn to sleep” by Annette Kast-Zahn and Dr. Hartmut Morgenroth with the gentle approach that the author Elizabeth Pantley presents in her book “Sleeping instead of Screaming”.

To print: In this overview you will find the most important advantages and disadvantages of sleep training programs and gentle methods at a glance:

Sleep tutorial from “Every Child Can Learn to Sleep”

The “The Plan for Learning to Sleep”from the book Every Child Can Learn to Sleep can be applied to various problems falling asleep and provides clear and general guidance for parents. In addition to other tips, the proposed sleep learning program offers a uniform approach that can be used for almost any problem. For example, you can use it to wean your baby from both the pacifier and falling asleep in your arms. The plan is to let the child cry for a short time, then comfort it again and give it presence and closeness, and then leave the bedroom again. These periods of so-called “let scream” are getting longer and longer, starting from 2 minutes up to a maximum of 10 minutes. The aim of this approach is for the child to learn to fall asleep alone and without sleeping aids and to be able to soothe themselves at night without parental intervention. The implementation of the plan for learning to sleep from “Every child can learn to sleep” offers the following advantages and disadvantages:

Benefits of the Sleep Learning Program

  • Rapid success: In the experience of many parents, the treatment plan achieves rapid success. Usually the child falls asleep better and sleeps through the night within a few days. In this way, exhausted parents can quickly get the night’s sleep they long for.
  • Simple: There is only one specific set of instructions that can be applied to various problems falling asleep.

Disadvantages of the sleep learning program

  • Stress for the child: sleep training programs, which are mostly based on the well-known method of the American pediatrician Dr. Richard Ferber ( “ferbern” ) are highly controversial. Above all, critics complain about “let them scream”, which, among other things, can cause a lot of stress in a child and have a negative impact on its development.
  • Worsening with lack of consistency: Many parents find it difficult to let their child cry. This often leads to them breaking off the program and giving their child exactly what they wanted to break their habit of, for example being rocked to sleep on mom’s arm. So your child learns the opposite, namely that it only has to scream long enough to get what it wants.

Conclusion: The implementation of the plan for learning to sleep requires absolute consistency and conviction and is recommended by experts primarily as an emergency solution for exhausted parents.

Gentle Methods

So-called “gentle” methods, such as Elizabeth Pantley’s approach in her book “Sleep instead of crying”, look for ways to get a child used to behavior changes step by step over a longer period of time. The adjustment should be as gentle as possible for the child. There is usually no provision for screaming. On the contrary: she recommends comforting the child immediately with whatever means you think are necessary. Instead of a general plan, she suggests several alternative solutions for every problem falling asleep. From these suggestions and suggestions, parents can choose the ideas that suit them and then implement them at their own pace. Such a step-by-step and long-term approach has the following advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of the gentle methods

  • Gentle: The child is always comforted immediately when it cries. This creates less stress. The needs of the child are clearly in the foreground.
  • Situational and individual: A solution is offered for every sleep problem, which can also be individually varied. Parents can therefore choose exactly the solutions that best suit them and their child.

Disadvantages of the gentle methods

  • Patience and time required: Since the change is taking place step by step, it can take longer before success is achieved. So a lot of patience is required.
  • Complexity of problem solving: The large number of proposed solutions can entail a great deal of decision-making effort in order to select the right solutions.

Conclusion: Gentle methods are for parents who have the time and patience and refuse to let their child cry for any length of time.

Whichever method you choose, as a parent you should feel comfortable with the process. That’s the most important. So just trust your intuition when applying all the tips and plans. Then it will definitely work out soon with sleep!

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