It’s 4 a.m. and you’re exhausted. Your baby, on the other hand, is wide awake and letting everyone within a two-mile radius know it. Yep, it’s definitely time to start sleep training. But if the idea of letting your kid “cry it out” just doesn’t feel right, there are plenty of alternatives that sleep-deprived parents swear by. Here’s the lowdown on one popular method called Fade It Out (FIO) or Fading.
What is it? Fading is a gentle sleep training method that is meant to involve no—or very little—tears. (Huzzah!) The idea behind the approach is that you slowly fade out your baby’s bedtime routine until it’s no longer necessary.
Wait, so how does that work exactly? With fading, parents continue to use whatever method they’ve been using to put their baby to sleep (i.e., rocking, nursing, singing, pacifier, etc.), but they gradually decrease the amount of time they spend doing it until, eventually, they won’t have to do it at all. The pace is up to parents, making this one of the most flexible sleep training methods out there. (Like step-by-step instructions? This probably isn’t the approach for you.)
Why does it work? While rocking your mini to sleep may be an adorable—and effective—nighttime routine, there’s a risk that your baby will end up relying on this every time she falls asleep or wakes up in the middle of the night. (Hello, sleep crutch.) The theory behind fading is that by gently weaning your kid off her sleep associations, you allow her to figure out how to soothe herself, minus any trauma.
When can I start and how long will it take? Most experts recommend waiting until your baby is at least four months old to begin sleep training. As for how long it will take before you start seeing results, well, that all depends on how consistent you are and your child’s temperament (hey, kids are weird). But you should expect the fading method to take anywhere from three weeks to three months to work. Meaning it’s definitely not one of the fastest sleep training methods, although it is one of the quietest. Whether the promise of minimal tears is enough to convince you to sleep train for an entire three months is up to you. Good night (and good luck).