No tears approach to baby sleep
No tears approach to baby sleep

This school of sleep-training thought is very gradual and lengthy, allowing a more peaceful bedtime experience.  Supporters of the no-tears approach (most notably Dr Sears, the attachment parenting guru) believe that allowing the baby to cry can be damaging to a developing sense of trust and cause a negative association to bedtime.  Yet cry-it-out experts claim that coddling a baby in a no-tears approach is further instilling dependency, hindering self-soothing sleep. You need to choose whichever method sounds the most logical - there most likely isn't a right or wrong answer.  Both techniques can be successful as long as the parent is fully on board and the baby responds well to that type of teaching.

The no-tears philosophy generally centers on patience, comfort and attentiveness, although the specific approaches differ.

One of the most famous supporters of the no-tears approach, Dr. Sears encourages parents to do anything that creates a positive association around sleep - even breastfeeding and rocking.  His theory is that a positive experience will lead to a healthy sleeper, although it will take much longer for a baby to learn to eventually go to sleep without those sleep aids.

If you're looking for a more structured yet gentle approach to sleep training, Elizabeth Pantley's The No-Cry Sleep Solution  has a step-by-step guide that you can customise to suit you and your baby.  A middle ground between the two extremes in thought, she agrees with Ferber that babies should be put to sleep awake but drowsy (after feeding and/or rocking), but sides with Dr. Sears on immediately responding to a baby's cries.  Although it takes longer than crying it out, many parents feel more comfortable with the process of teaching baby to sleep without tears.


Find more tips and related stories:

Settling your baby
Best baby sleep advice  
Bedtime routines  

This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource.

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