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As natural as sleep is, it sure doesn’t come naturally for most families. It’s actually a source of constant frustration for many, and it gets magnified when your child doesn’t sleep. Your foggin’ noggin goes into overdrive along with your nerves. So you turn to google. After much research, it’s decided: you want to try sleep training. But where to start?

First, know that the method itself is only about 10 percent of what you need to focus on. The key to your child’s slumber begins with good sleep hygiene, which means syncing his bedtime routine with his natural circadian sleep,aka his internal sleeping clock.

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Not all sleep-training techniques are right for every baby and every parent, but all of them work to some degree. The most crucial aspect of sleep training is consistency. So it’s important that you take the time to review all options. Choose the one that feels right to you and your child and the one that you can stick with.

So if you’re ready to nip bad nighttime habits in the bud, now is the time to decide on a strategy. Here are 4 techniques to teach baby how to snooze on his own and through the night.

GRADUAL METHODS: I’d like to begin with the methods that have the least amount of protest (or crying). They do take longer to achieve sleep success, but they are particularly great for parents who cannot bear the idea of leaving their babies to cry alone. For fewer tears, try one of these techniques.

1. No-Cry method.

Also known as: Pick-Up/Put-Down Method

How it works: With the No-Cry method, you pick up baby everytime he cries and place him back in his crib when he stops crying. If he starts fussing again, you pick up and soothe baby again and repeat the process until he actually falls asleep -- which is why this method is also called Pick-Up/Put-Down. Make sure that baby is drowsy but awake. Not only will this teach him to self soothe, it will also keep him aware of his surroundings and allow him to know not to expect you when he wakes up. The No-Cry method can last an hour or so and even continue multiple times throughout the night. Needless to say, it takes a lot of patience, repetition and consistency.

Perfect for: This method works particularly well for parents who are trying to stop the rocking-to-sleep association or who want take it slow and be present throughout the whole process.

The book you need to read: The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, by Elizabeth Pantley and William Sears.

2. Sleep Lady Shuffle

Also known as: the Chair method, sleep-in-the-room-and-slowly-leave method, slow-and-steady method

How it works: The Sleep Lady Shuffle method asks that you use a prop, like a chair, that will be associated with sleep training. Place the prop by the crib or toddler bed for two to three nights. Gradually move your way out of the bedroom by slightly moving the prop away from the bed each two to three nights. Once you are out of the room and if needed, you can comfort baby with your voice, from outside the bedroom.

Perfect for: This method is perfect for babies that are used to having a parent sit by their bed or that are sensitive and have separation anxiety.

The book you need to read: The Sleep Lady®’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy by Kim West and Joanne Kenen

DIRECT METHODS: If baby is so spirited and strong-willed that he simply won’t give, you may want to opt for a more direct approach. Yes, it will involve more nightly crying, but it usually provides a faster response to achieve sleep success. Once again, you just want to make sure that it complements your child’s temperament.

3. Ferber

Also known as: Check and console, timed intervals, the 5-minute man, and modified CIO

How it works: This method wants to gradually teach your child to fall asleep without your help or presence through a series of incremental check-ins. When you are done with your sleep routine, place your child in bed, give him a goodnight kiss and leave. If he starts to cry, come back in the room after three minutes and soothe him like you normally would (although it is best to try and avoid picking him up or feeding him). Leave the room, and if baby starts to cry again, wait 5 minutes before going back in. If the crying persists, repeat the process, gradually increasing the amount of time between your check-ins.

Perfect for: This method is very popular and, in my experience, is good for practically everyone. Plus, it’s a flexible technique that you can adapt according to what you think works best for your child.

The book you need to read: Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition by Richard Ferber

4. Cry it out

Also known as: Cold Turkey, Extinction, Go the f*** to sleep, and “love you and peace. See you in the morning.”

How it works: In this method, you finish your sleep routine, put baby down in his bed, give him a goodnight kiss and leave -- ignoring all cries until the morning. There is ongoing controversy about this technique, but it happens to work beautifully, especially for children that are stubborn or spirited.

Perfect for: If you start sleep training your child at an older age (9 months and over), Cry It Out may be for you. For this technique to work though, you need to be consistent: caving in and re-entering the bedroom is likely to give baby false hope and cause more shrieking. To make the process a little easier, you can use a video monitor and still “check” on baby from the distance.

The book you need to read: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 4th Edition: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep by Marc Weissbluth M.D.

If you feel like baby’s behaviors are changing, you can start with a gradual approach and, later on, switch to a more direct technique. Again, it’s all about how baby evolves and what feels right for you as a family. Also, the method itself is not the end-all of sleep training. A healthy bedtime routine is in fact the foundation to raising a good sleeper. Reading a bedtime story singing a lullaby, softening your voice and dimming the lights are all great ways to get baby drowsy and ready for some ZZZs.

Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded NY.

Baby's first birthday is right around the corner—how did that happen? It's understandable if you are feeling all the emotions right now. This is a major milestone for both of you, so while you're planning a celebration for your little one, you should also take this moment to applaud your accomplishments during this past year.

One year ago, you were probably daydreaming about these moments… and possibly slightly nervous about how you would manage. Look at you now, mama! But take a deep breath, because life is about to get even more exciting as your sweet little baby enters toddlerhood!

Here are a few of our favorite items for babies and mamas at the 11-month mark:

To cheer on first steps: Bright Starts rolling monkey

Bright Starts

It takes a lot of strength to get those little legs walking for the first time! Keep your baby encouraged as they gain stability with a new toy to chase down.

$12.89

For mess-free snacking: Munchkin snack catcher

Munchkin Snack Catcher

As your baby begins to work on supervised self-feeding, you'll start to find crumbs everywhere. That's why training snack cups are so brilliant: They prevent them from dumping all those snacks at once.

$4.95

For the first cake-cutting: Creative Converting first birthday party hat

birthday hat

Get your camera ready for that first birthday! Sure, the party hat may only stay on your toddler's head for a few minutes, but the pictures will be around to cherish for a lifetime.

$9.79

For those fine motor skills: Lamaze sorting toy

Lamaze toy

The fine motor development your baby is working on today will help with everything from playing instruments to writing with pencils and so much more later in life. Believe it or not, a simple sorting toy will help boost these foundational skills.

$9.99

For breastfeeding support: Honest Mama nip balm

Honest nip balm

If you are on a breastfeeding journey with your growing babe, you two probably are in a pretty good rhythm—but your tatas still deserve some TLC.

$14.99

For simple beauty touch-ups: Honest Beauty magic balm

Honest Beauty

It can still feel hard to find a spare moment for yourself throughout the day, but it also feels good to keep up with a beauty routine that is heavy on the self-care element. Enter: An incredible multi-purpose balm that can hydrate your lips, soothe cracked skin, tame flyaways and more.

$12.99

For whatever life throws at you: All In Motion anorak jacket

All in Motion

Motherhood is all about multitasking, and your clothing should be able to take you from one activity to the next. Thankfully, the amazingly stylish activewear on the market right now means you can feel good about a wardrobe stable that is able to multitask, too.

$40

For baby’s first cake: KitchenAid hand mixer

Kitchen Aid

If you've been pinning ideas for that first birthday cake since you gave birth, make those dreams a reality with an upgraded mixer you can use throughout the years. Not much of a baker? Visit Target Bakery for a free smash cake with the purchase of a specialty cake!

$49.99

For chasing that active baby: C9 Champion women’s knit sneakers

Champion Sneakers

You might be surprised by how quickly your toddling baby turns into a running baby. So lace up those shoes, mama!

$34.99

For your favorite photos: Project 62 wire clip collage

Project 62

How many pictures have you taken in the past year? We're betting it's a pretty high number, and at least a few of those deserve to be displayed in your home. Make it easy to swap them out with a frame that allows you to display multiple pictures at once.

$20

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

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