The Weissbluth Sleep Training Method is also known as the Extinction Method or The No-Peek Method.
For our first baby, we tried the Ferber Cry-it-out method first. Honestly, it was horrible. It totally works for so many babies, but not for us! For our baby, going in and checking on him made him more upset over the long-haul. Leaving him alone for set amounts of time only to then come back just reinforced that if he cried longer and harder, we would eventually come back.
He had (has) the endurance of an Olympic athlete.
So, we had to switch to the Extinction Method which was a really difficult conclusion to come to. I am hesitant to tell people we did this method because they think it sounds so mean – but truthfully it worked better and faster and I wish we had done it from the beginning. Overall, it was much less crying than other methods (for us) and much more sleep for everyone once it worked.
Not sleeping (or not sleeping enough) is incredibly impactful for children (and parents!) as it can negatively affect mood, development, learning and health. So, I knew I was doing the right thing by finding a way to help my child learn to sleep on their own, but getting there was really taxing both emotionally and physically.
It would be so great if kids just naturally grew out of being a terrible newborn sleepers into awesome baby/toddler sleeper but I don’t believe that is so in most cases. At least not without some practice and processes in place. And guess what? Babies who sleep terribly turn into toddlers who sleep terribly, and they turn into kids who sleep terribly. Oof. No thank you. You can either decided to conquer the issue now while it is still decently manageable, or deal with the issue later – even three years from now – because – it will likely still be an issue then.
Let me reinforce one thing – you should practice safe and fair sleep practices by first starting with Independent Sleep Practices and preparing for Sleep Training before going down any other sleep training method route. Sometimes the sleep training prep lead to a successful sleeper without having to do much “training” afterall. Also, an infant should be fed on demand and needs to be fed when they are actually hungry. However, if you have a well-fed, healthy baby over five months old who nurses or feeds throughout the night – you don’t have a hungry child – you have a child who has a sleep problem.
Okay – so you have decided to go down the Weissbluth Sleep Training Method path. I’m with you!
So, how to begin? Follow all the Independent Sleep Practices, prepare appropriately for Sleep Training, try CIO first if that is your intention. Then what?
- Follow a well worn bedtime routine with your child.
- Kiss your child, tell them you love them.
- Put them down, awake, in their crib on their back alone in their room.
- Exit the (dark) room quietly.
- Shut the door.
- That’s it. Goodnight.
Okay, that might not be all all. I watched the baby monitor like a hawk for hours and cried a bit. I had to turn the sound down at times to reduce my own anxiety but kept a watchful eye on my baby with my eyes glued to the screen while googling what a bad parent I was.
For us, it took two nights. Two nights! The first night it was a handful of hours (yikes), the second night was less than two! After all those weeks of CIO! Two hours of crying! Give me that forever!
It took more time to reinforce sleep training and continue practicing it over time, but generally, after two nights, we could go through the normal bedtime routine, put our baby down (awake), leave, and he would eventually fall asleep on his own. At the beginning (after the first 2 night) there was still a little whining and fussing for a few minutes but it wasn’t much. Nap time was harder, but night time was overall, solved. We stuck to it from then on, knowing the boundaries worked.
I found that the Weissbluth Method was less likely to unintentionally reinforce crying as there wasn’t ongoing intervention by us. My presence going in to see my child during the CIO method worked against me as it increased crying instead of minimizing crying. The Weissbluth Method also maintains that “full extinction” equals in less crying overall. For us, that ended up being true.
As with anything, not everything will work the same with every child – not even children within the same family. Do what works for you and your baby. Don’t give up, there is a night light at the end of the tunnel!