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  • Writer's pictureEmma Jackson

The Extinction Response Method

A minimally involved sleep training response method is called “extinction”.

You have definitely heard the phrase “Cry it Out” before and while it’s not the right choice for everyone, it’s actually referring to the super effective extinction method for sleep training that’s entirely safe when done correctly. I encourage you to read on to at least get an accurate sense of how and why it can be a wonderful tool - whether or not you decide this is the one for you.

A minimally involved sleep training method is a good choice for parents who are hoping for fast results with the least amount of cumulative crying throughout the sleep training process.

This method is also perfect for parents who have a good understanding of sleep hygiene and are confident they have considered and addressed all of the most important areas to set their child up for sleep success.

A minimally involved sleep training method involves the caregiver leaving the bedroom after a predictable bedtime routine that ends with the child still awake in their safe sleep space. The parent gives the child unlimited time and space to practice falling to sleep on their own in their perfectly conducive sleep space at the time then their brain is already primed to lean into the most basic biological need for sleep.

This is the same exact way caregivers will respond to any night wakings that happen until morning, with the exception of one to two night feeds when appropriate.

The extinction sleep training method is a good choice for parents who are confident in their understanding and implementation of sleep hygiene, and are able to act as a united front and remain consistent throughout the process of sleep training.

When implemented correctly, this method is very effective and very brief.

However, it does seem to come with a bad reputation in some groups. I am happy to report that none of the emotionally charged negative opinions surrounding this method are based in real science. I have scoured the research (exhausting!) and I have found conclusively, that there is absolutely no known negative long term effects from teaching babies and children healthy sleep in a supportive home with loving parents.

There are no negative findings around parental attachment, physical, or mental health in relation to teaching healthy sleep skills.

Continue to share in the delight of your child and offer all of your usual love, responsiveness, and care every day. Your child will not fear for their safety or love throughout the sleep training process, but will instead feel upset that you are changing something that means it’s time for them to learn something new. That's a normal and acceptable feeling. Learning new things and accepting change is hard for many of us! It’s OK for them to have these feelings, and if we can offer a safe and supportive space for them to feel upset while they also learn very healthy sleep skills, then that is a good thing.

There are plenty of very positive effects to regular consolidated sleep such as the health of every system in our bodies, emotional regulation, energy, tissue healing, and problem solving. Many adults feel they are better able to parent in the way they want to parent when they are able to think clearly and regulate their own emotions after regular long nights of sleep.

Still, this method is only recommended to parents who feel confident they are able to stay consistent. If you know in your heart that this method is not realistic for you or your partner to implement consistently, then I strongly recommend learning more about ways to be more involved while teaching your child sustainable healthy sleep skills.

If you are ready to teach healthy sleep or reset sleep after a regression, and are hoping for quality guidance, answers to all of your questions, and personalized support along the way, take a look at the sleep services I offer and schedule a free 15 minute discovery call to learn more about which one is a good fit for you.

~Happy Sleeping ~

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