There’s a new way to get your baby to sleep: The responsive method

Mama, we know how stressful it can be to get your baby to sleep. It seems like, no matter what you do, your newborn just won't settle down. The process is so exhausting.

We try everything the baby experts, our friends and family and the internet suggest. There's so many approaches parents can take. There's the fading method, where you rock them to sleep for shorter intervals each night, the pick-up-put-down method (which is exactly what it sounds like), and there's the the controlled crying technique, also known as the “cry it out method."

Different methods work for different families

Different methods work for different families, and some parents adopt a little bit of one approach and a little bit of another. Generally, the best method is whatever works for your family, but studies suggest controlled crying gets babies to sleep faster and wake less during the night. But, despite being effective, many parents find it's just not for them.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, surveys have found that a majority of parents—63% to 71% to be exact—don't want to start or continue controlled crying, and are looking for alternative ways to get their kids to sleep.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Sarah Blunden, director of the Australian Center for Education, says "For 40 years parents have been saying they don't want to do controlled crying, they don't like it, but no one's been listening."

To address the need for alternative techniques, Blunden has developed a responsive, non-ignoring method that she calls "a middle of the road approach" to sleep training.

A  graduated desensitization 

According to the Herald, Blunden's technique is based on the neuroscience behind changing a behavior, in which it takes a person a certain amount of times to form a new pattern of thinking or doing. With Blunden's approach, parents slowly take away something their little one associates with falling asleep, such as cuddling, breastfeeding or hearing mama's voice.

"With my responsive method we teach a graduated desensitization of a behavior and replace it with a less intensive behavior," she tells the Herald. "She will cry at first, but eventually form a new neural connection in her brain – and a newly learned behavior. Then we can move onto changing the next association."

Blunden, a clinical psychologist and researcher, has conducted pilot research that shows her technique leads to less crying and babies who are more settled, as well as fosters a better mother-baby bond that has positive emotional and physical effects.

Now her team is running the ongoing Baby Sleep Study to see how her method stacks up against controlled crying when it comes infant sleep disturbance, parent and baby stress, maternal mood, infant temperament and parent-child attachment.

Primary findings suggest a lot of parents may be misinformed about sleep behaviors. Many moms and dads seem to mistake normal behavior for signs of a serious sleep problem—for example, that babies should settle themselves to sleep from a young age—and that can lead to anxiety and worry, Blunden says.

"The belief is so strong that if you let your baby fall asleep in your arms at three weeks, they're going to be doing that for the next two, three, four years," Blunden tells the Herald. "That is not true. Babies need to be touched by their mother."

Check out some of our tried-and-true tools for getting more sleep in the first few months of motherhood.

Dream weighted sack & swaddle, 0-6 months

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed with the same principles as weighted blankets to provide the littlest sleepers with a sense of calm and comfort, this innovative sack with detachable swaddle wing helps babies get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. More sleep for baby means more sleep for mama. Win!


Happiest Baby's white noise sound machine

For 9 months babies become accustomed to a fairly noisy womb. White noise machines not only help promote self-soothing but give babies that familiar sound for sleep. Unlike lots of sound machines that use a digital recording, the SnooBear has a built-in fan that creates the sound of rushing air to create "all natural" white noise.


Happiest Baby SNOO smart sleeper bassinet 

Happiest Baby SNOO smart sleeper bassinet

The conclusion to the era of sleepless nights is closer than you think. This smart sleeper is a game-changer, to say the least. White noise, motion and noise sensors, and gentle swaddling work together to help babies get to sleep and stay asleep, all while learning to self-soothe. SNOO does the work so you don't have to. Catch some z's, mama.


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