How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
This technique is based on altering a baby's sleep habits by waking her at prescribed times. Here's the idea:
1. For one week, keep track of the times the baby wakes each night. Then, try to beat her to the punch. If she wakes at 12 and 4 AM, for instance, go in and wake her at 11:45 and 3:45 and rock her or do whatever you normally do.
2. Day by day, extend the waking times in 15-minute increments -- back to 12 and 4 AM, then to 12:15 and 4:15, and so on. She should stop waking on her own and instead wait for her parent, who has become her alarm clock.
3. As you add 15-minute increments between wakings, she learns to sleep for longer periods of time. Eventually you phase out the wakings altogether and find that your baby is sleeping through the night.
PROS: For infants who routinely awaken at predictable times during the night, the scheduled-awakenings method can be a gentler alternative to Ferberizing -- there's often less crying and parents feel a sense of control, since they're in charge of when the baby wakes up.
CONS: "The biggest problem I've seen is that parents have a hard time bringing themselves to actually wake the baby," says Carl Johnson, Ph.D., a specialist in sleep disorders at Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant. Some sleep experts are adamantly opposed to this method and point out that there's little proof that it's effective. They argue that an infant's waking schedule is too varied for this technique to be effective. Another glitch is that this approach takes a while -- as long as three or four weeks.