baby sleep regression

This story was produced in partnership with Dream Baby Sleep®, a group of certified experts on sleep training methods who are successfully teaching families how to create and maintain healthy sleep.

A very good friend of ours, let’s call her Mary, had a baby who was an amazing sleeper. He napped during the day and fell asleep easily at night without much hassle.

Oh, and did we mention he would only wake up once a night for feeding, if at all?

If you’re reading this article… you probably know what happens next.

Somewhere around the 4 or 5-month mark, Mary’s comfortable bedtime routine fell apart. 

Baby sleep regression is a real thing! (So is toddler sleep regression for that matter).  Her son’s formerly good sleep habits started to unravel as a result.

Mary would feed her son, but he wouldn’t fall asleep. So then she’d rock him and sing to him until he settled.

But when she finally did put him down, he’d wake up again within an hour.

Then this exhausted mom would start the process all over again. Sound familiar?


Getting Sleep Help

Not understanding what was happening, and desperate for a good night’s rest, Mary reached out to a professional sleep consultant.

The sleep consultant shed some light on a few things Mary hadn’t considered; mainly how all the soothing, singing, and rocking she’d been doing were actually contributing to the problem.

Her son now associates those actions with bedtime, so he relies on them to fall asleep.

Not exactly the result she was hoping for.

After continued discussion with the sleep consultant and her spouse, Mary decided to start sleep training her son to help get him back on track.

Sleep training is a word that carries a lot of baggage. It’s often used in conjunction with letting your baby “cry it out”, but that isn’t the whole story. 

Sleep training methods vary, and not all of them involve leaving your baby to cry (although that can be part of it). 


What a lot of people don’t know is that when it comes to sleep training – you have options!


You can choose the sleep training method that works best for you; based on the temperament of your baby, your individual parenting style and your family dynamic. Sleep training is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

It’s more about realizing that soothing your baby to sleep every night isn’t your job. That just isn’t sustainable.

You want to find a way to teach your baby how to self-soothe and fall asleep independently. And that’s precisely what sleep training can do. 


If you’re interested in sleep training, but unsure of where to start – joining a free support group can be a great first step!


Sleep Training Basics

Sleep training not only develops lifelong healthy sleep patterns, but it also builds confidence and independence in your little one. 

Good sleep habits are a necessary life skill.  Choosing the right sleep training method that’s developmentally appropriate for your baby can help get you there.

The following five (5) sleep training methods are the most popular and the ones most often recommended by sleep experts. That’s because they work!

  1. Extinction (CIO) Method
  2. Check And Console
  3. Chair Method
  4. Pick Up, Put Down
  5. Silent Return

These sleep training methods can be applied any time after 16 weeks from your estimated due date (as opposed to your actual delivery date). 

If you’re unsure about which method is right for you or how to start, you can always book a free 15-minute consultation call with a certified sleep expert who can help design a plan that works for you.


sleep training methods


Top 5 Sleep Training Methods


1. Extinction (CIO)

This is the ‘cry it out’ method most people think of when they think about sleep training.

It’s ideal for babies who tend to get MORE upset if you actually go back into their room.

The idea behind this method is that you want to extinguish the crying behavior by not responding to it. 

Of all the methods we’re sharing, extinction is generally the most controversial because it involves placing your baby down drowsy, but awake, and then not returning.

Unless of course there are any signs of danger or illness, then you’d want to intervene.

Parents often hesitate to go this route because they’re concerned about how much crying there will be.

And it’s true – there can be a lot of crying. But it’s usually just in the short term. 

What has (pleasantly) surprised some parents is how quickly this method can work. You often see improvement in just a few days. 

This is the main reason extinction continues to be a viable option for some families.

But like any one of these sleep-training methods, it’s all about what works for you and your baby.


2. Check And Console

This method (also known as the Ferber method, graduated extinction, or the interval method) is another popular sleep training option.

While there are different variations, the general premise is the same. You continue to check on your baby at an interval you feel comfortable with (at least 3 minutes), but you don’t feed or rock them to sleep. 

Instead, you wait that specific amount of time and allow your baby to cry and self soothe.

Once the predetermined time period is up, you go back into the room and console/reassure your baby with comforting words like “mommy loves you”, or you can try shushing with a gentle pat.

Then you leave the room – rinse, wash, and repeat.

Continue to leave and check back on your baby. Increase the amount of time between visits (at least 2 additional minutes per day) until your baby can manage to fall back asleep all on their own. 

Many experts recommend keeping a sleep-training log to track your progress and note your results. 

You might discover that in your situation, going back into the room aggravates your baby even more. If this were the case, we’d recommend talking to a sleep consultant who can provide some additional guidance.

Want to learn more about the check and console method? Check out this quick guide eBook!


3. Chair Method

Parents looking for a gradual sleep training method might want to consider the chair method.

This one’s definitely gentler, but it also requires more time and discipline on your part – so it really depends what you’re looking for.


RELATED: Night Weaning Tips To Help Stop Night Feeds And Sleep Through The Night


You prep your baby for bed as you normally would; place them down drowsy but awake.  Except instead of leaving the room, you’ll sit in a chair right next to the crib.

When your baby wakes up, shush them from the chair until they fall back asleep.

Then every few nights, move the chair farther and farther away until you’re totally out of the room and not shushing anymore.

Want to learn more about the chair method? Check out this quick guide eBook!


4. Pick Up Put Down

This gentle method is especially good for babies younger than seven months.

Again, you prep baby for bed as usual; placing them down drowsy but awake.

With ‘pick up, put down’ you come back into the room when you hear your baby cry. You’ll pick them up to pat, shush and soothe them, but then you put them back down BEFORE they fall back to sleep.

With this method your job is simply to calm your baby, then it’s your baby’s job to fall back to sleep.

Keep repeating the process until your baby falls back to sleep on his own without being picked up


RELATED: Surviving Baby Sleep Regression


Keep in mind, while this method can work really well for younger babies, after six or seven months, your presence might make your baby more upset. 

Picking them up and putting them back down can become too much stimulation. If this is the case, another one of the sleep training methods might work better for you.

Want to learn more about the pick up put down method? Check out this quick guide eBook!


5. Silent Return

This method works for toddlers who are getting out of bed throughout the night or have become used to climbing into your bed, but now you want them to stay in their own sleep space.

Every time your toddler leaves their room, you just silently return them back to their own bed. That’s it.  

It’s important to NOT talk to your toddler when returning them to bed. You can repeat your “sleep mantra”, but those are the only words that should be spoken.

Consistency is the key to making this method work. If your child knows sometimes you give in and let them stay in your bed, or get them water, or read to them, or whatever…. they will keep getting up. So don’t give in.

Be strong and keep going. You got this!

Want to learn more about the silent return method? Check out this helpful quick guide eBook!


Final Thoughts

If you’re on the fence about sleep training, think about it like this… “What is best for my baby/toddler right now?”

Sleep is critical for development.

Yes, the nights of crying or whining that accompany sleep training can be hard. But if you’re reading this article, it’s most likely because whatever you’re currently doing isn’t working for you or your family.

Both you AND your child deserve to have consistent, quality sleep. Sleep training is one way to help make that happen.


If you’re unsure about where to start with sleep training, joining a free support group can help!  Learning how others have successfully managed sleep issues or practiced self soothing can be a helpful first step.

Also, we caution you not to think of sleep training as a “once-and-done” kind of thing. It’s more of a lifestyle change.

Once your child acquires the skills to fall asleep, they’ll still need routines, consistency and help adapting when their situation changes. For instance, you go on vacation, school starts, etc.

When it comes to choosing a sleep training method – do your research, think about your family’s needs and tolerances. And consider hiring a sleep consultant if you need some guidance!

Your baby’s crazy sleep patterns might not make any kind of sense to you, but there are people who are trained to understand the issues and offer actionable help.

If it makes sense, book a free 15-minute sleep consultation and talk to someone who can help you successfully get your baby on a sleep schedule that works for everyone. 


Looking for more helpful sleep information? Check out the Dream Tribe online video course! This step-by-step course was specifically designed to teach tired parents the skills they need to get their baby or toddler (and themselves!) to sleep through the night. 


About Dream Baby Sleep:

Dream Baby Sleep® is a loving group of certified experts who are successfully teaching families how to create and maintain healthy sleep. Our diverse education and team dynamic empower us to customize a plan catered to your family’s personal needs. By studying the temperament of your baby, parenting style and family dynamic we’re able to draw from all sleep training methods available to create success for your family.