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Gentle Sleep Training vs Cry-It-Out (CIO)
When it comes to sleep training your baby, there are two main methods to help with getting baby to sleep more easily and for longer periods.
The more infamous method is the Cry-It-Out (CIO), which involves allowing the baby to cry for varying lengths of time – the most extreme being letting the baby cry herself to sleep without any intervention at all. This could result in several hours of crying.
A more widely accepted adaptation of this method is the popular Ferber Method, also known as “controlled crying”. This technique essentially allows the baby to cry but requires checking in at timed intervals to offer comfort and reassurance.
The second method is the complete no-cry method, also known as gentle sleep training. At its heart, the gentle method aims to have no tears involved at all and is very much centred around attachment parenting.
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Most Common (But Not So Great) Books For Gentle, No-Cry Sleep Training
These are some of the oldest and more well-known books on the market, the earliest being published in 2002 (No-Cry Sleep Solution). However, a quick search on Goodreads will reveal that parents of today are finding these books ineffective and outdated in their methodology, with all of them barely managing a 3.5 stars rating.
As a mum of two boys (and a third one on the way), I have read my fair share of sleep training books and found that, just as there is no one-size-fits-all sleep solution, books can be a hit-and-miss in terms of effectiveness.
However, beyond the above mentioned old school options, there are newer and more well-received resources available to sleep-deprived mums. The books on the following list are based on more recent studies and understanding of baby sleep and how biological emotional factors play a part in it.
Alternative Highly Rated Gentle Sleep Training Books
What you’ll love:
- Advice on twins and sibling issues
- Routines for children in childcare
- Real life parent stories
- Getting back on track after disruptions, from illness, night terrors and early wakers to disrupted routines and travelling.
As Australia’s largest child and family health organisation providing expert parenting advice to families during the early years, Tresillian is most well-known for their Medicare-covered family centres that help parents with baby sleep and settling difficulties.
Their newly published book, The Tresillian Sleep Book, is a consolidation of all their gentle baby sleep advice and practical tips on settling baby to sleep.
What you’ll love:
- Parent-child connection and attachment theory at the heart of its approach
- Gain an understanding of the inextricable relationship between children’s emotions and sleep
- Simple tools to strengthen the parent-child connection and improve sleep and behaviour
- Evidence-based sleep routines for newborns to three-year-olds
Born and raised in Australia, Sophie Acott (who now resides in San Diego, California, with her husband and four young children) is a certified sleep consultant, parent coach, homebirth enthusiast, and conscious parenting advocate.
Featured on a multitude of news and radio stations such as ABC Radio and Sky News, Sleep Play Love has a small but loyal following on Facebook and is definitely a much overlooked gentle baby sleep resource on the market.
What you’ll love:
- Debunking myths created by widespread advice on sleep
- Practical suggestions are broken down into six developmental stages from 0-5 years
- In-depth case studies on implementing the suggestions
- Topics include the effect of diet and how to use comfort objects effectively
- Lessons from the sleep practices of families in other cultures
Trained as an Antenatal Teacher, Hypnotherapist/Psychotherapist, Developmental Infant Massage Instructor and Birth and Postnatal Doula, Sarah Ockwell-Smith is an advocate of gentle parenting and founder of CalmFamily.
Instead of using common sleep-training techniques such as controlled crying and pick up/put down, The Gentle Sleep Book finds a delicate balance between the needs of sleep-deprived parents and those of the child using evidence-based approaches.
What you’ll love:
- Stress-free, guilt-free parenting approach – feeding infants to encourage sleep, and gently settling babies and toddlers
- Offers down-to-earth and heartening advice on helping babies to sleep better
- Approved and recommended by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health, La Leche League International and the Centre for Attachment (NZ)
Unlike many other sleep training books that seek to make your baby a better sleeper, the essence of Pinky’s book is building YOUR confidence in parenting your own baby. It does not draw a line between right and wrong but instead aims to help you find a balance in your natural parenting instinct and achieving the best possible sleep outcome.
What you’ll love:
A highly successful gentle settling method is based on four revolutionary concepts:
1. The Fourth Trimester: Why babies still yearn for a womblike atmosphere even after birth
2. The Calming Reflex: An “off switch” all babies are born with
3. The 5 S’s: Five easy steps to turn on your baby’s amazing calming reflex
4. The Cuddle Cure: How to combine the 5 S’s to calm even colicky babies
Written by the world-renown American paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby On The Block is recommended by other medical and healthcare professionals. His methods are so effective that he has appeared on many television shows and been sought after by celebrities such as Madonna.
In 2016, Dr Harvey Karp developed and released the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper, a responsive bassinet that mimics the calming sensations of the womb to gently settle baby for a longer sleep. This crib is suitable for babies up to 6 months old and complements his methodology in his book.
Gentle sleep training takes time and patience
Personally, I used controlled crying with my firstborn and he was sleeping 12 hours through the night by three months old. With my second, I decided to try gentle sleep training and he didn’t start sleeping through until close to ten months, and even after that, his nighttime sleep was always inconsistent. He would frequently wake in the middle of the night for no reason and had persistent 5:30 am early waking problem.
That said, both my kids eventually fell into a similar sleep and wake pattern close to the age of three, sleeping from 7:30pm to 6:30am. So at the end of the day, regardless of the sleeping training you use, I dare say it will only have a short term effect, and I would not lightly dismiss one method over another.