Sleep Training Methods: 7 different ways to train baby

Find the best sleep training to use to sleep train your baby. Learn what sleep training is, the benefits of sleep training, all about 7 different methods, and tips for success.

Mom putting a sleeping baby into the crib

If you want your baby to develop independent sleep skills, you will need to do some sleep training. Sleep training helps your baby to self-soothe so that your baby can fall asleep independently, stay asleep without you helping out, and make it through sleep cycles and take full naps.

There are many different sleep training methods out there. It does not matter which one you use to help your baby learn and develop independent sleep skills. All that matters is that your baby learns the skills.

That means that you, as the parent, get to choose the method that will work best for your baby, your family, and your living circumstances.

What is Sleep Training?

Sleep training is teaching your baby to be able to sleep independently. This means your baby can sleep without the help of any one and anything else. Your baby will be able to fall asleep and stay asleep all on their own.

Benefits of Sleep Training

There are many benefits to sleep training.

  • Baby will not need any help being able to sleep
  • Baby will be able to be on a consistent sleep schedule
  • Baby will be able to take full naps and sleep through the night
  • Baby will have healthy sleep habits
  • Parents will sleep more
  • Parents will have breaks during the day
  • Parents will have more time to attend to other children (if applicable)

>>>Read: What Are the Benefits of Sleep Training?

Now let’s talk about the most common sleep training methods.

Fading Method

The fading method (aka the Bedtime Fading Method) can be described as a “weaning” method. This is a gentle sleep training method. You basically slowly wean your baby from whatever you are currently doing to get your baby to fall asleep.

Before you start this method, you need to know what time your baby typically falls asleep. So you will need to take notes. You are looking for your baby’s natural sleep disposition and patterns.

You will also want to have a consistent, predictable sleep routine so your baby knows it is time to sleep.

Let’s say you typically rock your baby to sleep. Let’s also say this typically takes you about 20 minutes to accomplish. The idea with fading is that you are gradually decreasing the amount of time you need to spend helping your baby fall asleep.

Fading Method
What is it: a gentle method that weans baby from needing help falling asleep
Pros: it is no-cry gentle sleep training method
Cons: it will likely take a long time to fully train baby

Pick Up/Put Down Method

The Pick-Up/Put-Down Method is a gentle sleep training method from Tracy Hogg, author of Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Pick Up Put Down entails you putting your baby down for a nap or bedtime while awake. Then if your baby starts to fuss or cry, you pick baby back up until your baby stops crying. Then you put your baby back down in the crib or bassinet.

If baby starts to cry again, you pick your baby back up. Once baby has settled down, you put your baby back in the bed. You repeat this process until your baby is asleep (or until it is time for the next feeding). When you first start this method, your baby might not fall asleep for the nap at all.

Pick-Up/Put-Down Method
What it is: a gentle sleep training method where you put baby down for sleep awake. If baby cries, pick baby up and soothe and repeat.
Pros: it is a gentle sleep training method wth little to no crying
Cons: it can take a long time at each nap or bedtime and also a long time to sleep train baby
Learn More: read more information here

4 S’s Sleep Training Method

This is one of the best sleep training methods. This is another gentle sleep training method from the Baby Whisperer. This is an infant sleep training technique you can use with even newborns!

Something I love about this method is that you are able to use it from birth. That way you do not have to train your baby to fall asleep using one method (like rocking to sleep) and then have to retrain later as your baby gets older.

With this method, you make sure the environment is right for your baby to sleep. This is your sleep routine, lighting in the room, a white noise machine, etc.

You then swaddle your baby. Then you sit (or stand) and hold your baby until you feel your baby relax. Then you put your baby in the crib and your baby drifts to sleep!

The magic in this method is that you pay close attention to your baby and time that wake window perfectly.

This is the method I used with my last two babies and I recommend it to everyone.

4 S’s Sleep Training Method
What is it: a gentle sleep training method that utilizes timing baby’s nap
Pros: it is a no cry method that can be used with newborns
Cons: it does not usually work with babies 4 months old and older
Learn more: read more information (and see a video) here.

Chair Method

This method was made popular on parenting television shows years ago. To use this method, you put a chair next to your baby or toddler’s crib. When you put your kiddo to sleep, you sit on the chair. You do not interact with the child but you also do not leave the room.

Once your child falls asleep, you can leave the room. If your child wakes up before they are supposed to be awake, you go sit in the chair again.

Each night, you will move the chair further from the crib. Repeat each night until your chair is out of the room.

I really would not recommend you consider this method unless you have an older baby or toddler who needs to learn how to self-soothe.

Chair Method
What is it: a cry it out method where the parent stays in the room
Pros: This method can be used with older babies and toddlers. Many believe it shows the child you are present and not abandoning the child
Cons: the parent has to stay right by a crying child without any interaction or comfort. This method can be long

Ferber Method

This method of sleep training is also known as graduated extinction, controlled crying, or check and console method. This method was developed by Dr. Ferber. This is a cry-it-out method that uses intervals.

With this method, you put your baby or child down for nap or bedtime. If your baby cries, you leave baby in the crib and set a timer for 5 minutes. You then go in and soothe and comfort your baby through patting or talking but not picking up. You then leave and repeat.

Over time, you increase the intervals that you let baby cry.

Ferber Method
What is it: a cry it out method that uses intervals to let baby learn to self-soothe
Pros: cry-it-out is typically faster than gentle methods PLUS you intervene every so often
Cons: this method will probably take longer than other cry-it-out methods

Cry It Out (CIO)

Cry It Out is a sleep training method where you let your baby cry to soothe to sleep. This is one of the most effective baby sleep training methods. This term is rather broad and can apply to many different sleep training methods, from Ferber where you check on your baby at regular intervals to Extinction where you never go into your baby’s room.

There are a lot of different ways to do Cry It Out. This is the method that I used with my first two children. It was very effective and worked well. It is fast with immediate improvement to your baby’s sleep.

When you have used this method, you can use it again if your baby gets thrown off from a sleep regression, traveling, or being sick. A baby who learned to sleep with cry it out typically only needs one cry it out session to fix sleep issues.

The way I did cry it out was very baby-specific. Some babies do better being checked on and some progress better if they are not checked on. Just know when you hear the term “cry it out”, it will look different for every person using it. And it should. This is something you should adjust to your individual baby.

Cry It Out Method
What is it: a sleep training method that allows baby to cry herself to sleep as she learns to self soothe
Pros: it works very quickly and is adaptable to individual babies
Cons: it is hard to listen to your baby cry
Learn more: read my instructions for using cry it out here

Extinction Sleep Training

Extinction sleep training is a cry-it-out method where you put baby down for sleep and do not get baby back up until nap time is over or it is morning.

Before you start the nap or bedtime, you make sure your baby is fed and has a dry diaper. This is the version of cry it out many critics think of when they discuss cry it out.

Extinction Sleep Training
What is it: a cry it out method where you put baby down and do not get baby up no matter how much baby cries
Pros: this method works very quickly–often in just a few days
Cons: it is very difficult to leave a baby to cry without intervening
Learn more: read more about this sleep training method here

Tips for Successful Sleep Training

The exact tips to follow for successful sleep training vary some from method to method. There are a few things that are true for all.

  • Be consistent. Consistency is a key to success with any method. Respect nap time and bedtime. Stick with the training method while your baby is learning.
  • Check with your pediatrician. If you are not confident in which method to use or if it is okay to use a sleep training method, check with your baby’s doctor.
  • Follow wake windows. Understand wake time length (wake windows) and time your baby’s nap correctly to get the least amount of crying.
  • Choose the right method. You need to choose a method that you can be consistent with and follow through on. Do not do a method you know you will not follow.
  • Learn your baby’s temperament. Different babies will do better with different methods.

>>>Read: 5 Important Sleep Training Tips for Baby Sleep

Helpful Sleep Training Books

There are a lot of books that can help you be more comfortable with sleep training. They will also help you fully grasp how important sleep is and how self-soothing fits into that. You can read about my favorite books here:

>>>Read: Best Baby Sleep Training Books to Get Baby Sleeping

 The Babywise Mom Nap Guide

The Babywise Mom Nap Guide eBook helps you establish successful naps from birth through the preschool years. It is a great resource!


When you dedicate the necessary time to helping your baby learn to self-soothe and sleep independently, you are setting your baby up for healthy sleep habits for life. Choose the method that best fits your baby, you, and your family.

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