Controlled Comforting Technique of Sleep Training

You can solve baby sleep problems with controlled comforting. It involves comforting, settling and walking away so your baby learns to go to sleep without you. Here’s how to do it.

What is controlled comforting?

Controlled comforting is a behavior management strategy for dealing with persistent settling and waking problems in young children.

The idea behind controlled comforting is to help children learn how to settle themselves to sleep, rather than you feeding, patting or cuddling them to sleep.

Controlled comforting involves quickly checking and reassuring your baby while he is learning to settle.

Is controlled comforting harmful? 
Despite concerns about potential harms to the baby, no studies published in peer-reviewed journals have shown any psychological or physical harm from using controlled comforting (or other behaviour management techniques described on this site). 

In fact, recent research has shown that babies who have undergone controlled comforting are more likely to sleep better in the short term, and are as well adjusted as their peers in terms of behaviour and sleep in the long term. A recent study also found that parents who used these techniques with their babies reported fewer symptoms of depression in both the short and long term than parents who didn’t.
Before you start with controlled comforting

Parents dealing with sleep and settling problems can become very tired and stressed, particularly if they’re losing sleep themselves. Controlled comforting is sometimes tried by parents who feel overwhelmed, or whose wellbeing is suffering.

You should use controlled comforting only:

with babies older than six months and less than two years
as part of a total program for establishing healthy sleep patterns that includes a positive bedtime routine
when you’re confident your baby is getting lots of attention, time and affection during the day.

How to do controlled comforting

  1. Establish a consistent and positive bedtime routine.
  2. When it’s time to say goodnight, put your baby in his cot and tuck him in. Either talk to and/or pat your baby until he’s quiet, or for one minute.
  3. As soon as your baby is quiet, or after one minute, say goodnight and leave the room. Leave before your baby is asleep.
  4. Stay out of the bedroom and give your baby a chance to settle by herself. Ignore grizzling.
  5. If your baby starts to really cry, wait for the set amount of time before going back to your baby – for example, two minutes at first.
  6. Leave your baby for a sequence of set time intervals – for example, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 minutes, or 5, 10 and 15 minutes. Set your own intervals of time based on how long you think you can manage.
  7. After each time interval has passed, return briefly to your baby if he’s still crying. Talk to your baby or pat him for one minute, or continue talking or patting until he’s quiet (depending on your preference). Try to soothe him without picking him up if you can.
  8. Keep an eye on her nappy. If it’s dirty, change her under low light and with minimal fuss.
  9. As soon as he’s quiet (or after one minute), but before he’s asleep, leave the room again and wait for the next set time interval. You’re trying to give your baby the opportunity to learn to go to sleep by himself. He is also learning that you are not far away and do eventually return.
  10. This process is continued until your baby falls asleep by herself.
  11. When your baby wakes overnight, follow the same routine.

Important tips for controlled comforting

  • Controlled comforting takes 3-14 days to work.
  • Use a clock or your mobile phone to time intervals – four minutes can seem like a very long time.
  • Turn baby monitors down or off. Make sure you can still hear your baby.
  • Don’t wait outside your baby’s bedroom. Go into another room and distract yourself, perhaps making a cup of tea and turning on the TV. Only go back to check on your baby when the set time is up.
  • Talk to your partner first to make sure that you both agree with what’s going on. Work out what role each of you will play – for example, helping with resettling or timing the intervals. Consider taking turns each night.
  • Avoid important commitments for the first few days after you start controlled comforting. You need to be able to see it through without a major change to your baby’s routine.
  • Remember to leave your baby’s room before he falls asleep.

source Raising

Please note that I do not necessarily endorse this method of sleep coaching, this is just meant to be a helpful description of a popular sleep coaching method.

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