Interested in learning more about chair method sleep training and how it works? You’re in luck, because this article explores the ins and outs of the chair method of sleep training, explains how sleep training works in general, and illuminates how you can help train your baby’s naps, too!
If you’re interested in sleep training with the Chair Method and would like more step-by-step support, check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. This powerful app works by first fine tuning your baby’s sleep fundamentals and then guiding you step-by-step through how to sleep train using the Chair method and others – depending on what will best suit your baby and you!
When Can I Start Sleep Training My Baby Using the Chair Method?
The best time to start sleep training your baby is at 4 months . Sleep training at four months is best for babies because:
- Your baby’s circadian rhythm is fully mature around 4 months. So biologically they are able to better consolidate sleeps and adapt to new sleep habits.
- Your baby begins to recognize patterns around 4 months, an essential skill for sleep training because sleep training requires habit-forming routines. This developmental leap often coincides with the 4-month sleep regression
- By this point most babies have gained enough weight that they can sleep for longer periods. You want to wait until your baby is at least 12 lbs. before you start sleep training and get the all clear from your pediatrician.
How To Prepare for Sleep Training:
While sleep training proper waits until your baby is 4 months or older, you can – and should - start laying the groundwork ahead of time.
You can prepare for sleep training your baby by:
Following a developmentally appropriate schedule:
Baby’s are creatures of habit, and you can best support healthy sleep habits by following an age appropriate sleep schedule, with the right number of naps and an early bedtime.
Creating a sleep-nourishing environment:
Babies are very sensitive to their environment – even a little bit of noise and especially a little bit of light can disrupt their sleep. To help your baby sleep best, we suggest purchasing or borrowing the following:
- Blackout curtains to block out light
- Sound machines to block out sounds – and soothe in other ways, too.
- Temperature control to make sure the room is between 68-72 °F – the best temperature for babies to sleep. (We understand this is not always possible. Click here for more tips on how to help your baby sleep through the night).
Following a calming bedtime routine consistently:
Calming, consistent bedtime routines are the cornerstone of sleep coaching for two reasons:
- Bedtime routines settle your baby’s mind and body before bed.
- Bedtime routines create a positive habit – through the repetition, your baby learns that the routine precedes sleep. This then “cues” your baby’s innate sleep drive, helping usher them toward a restful sleep.
Again, bedtime routines won’t be truly effective until around 4 months but starting early will make it that much easier to embark on your sleep training journey. Plus, it gets you into the habit, as well.
What is the Chair Method of Sleep Training?
The chair method is a gentle method is sleep training in which you gradually and gently wean your baby from your presence as they fall asleep. This teaches them to fall asleep independently.
It is important to remember that even though it is a gentle approach, that doesn’t mean your baby won’t protest or cry during this sleep transition. However, the chair method means that you are present until they fall asleep and for some parents that element of support is really important.
So, how does the chair method work: you start the chair method by placing a chair near your baby’s crib and sitting there if your baby cries out. Each successive night you move the chair a bit further away until you’re out of the room completely.
Also known as the camping out method, the chair sleep training method is a great option for babies who struggle to fall asleep alone.
How Do I Do the Chair Sleep Training Method?
Here are step-by-step instructions for the chair method of sleep training:
- Perform your baby’s bedtime routine
- Put your baby on their back in bed when they’re drowsy but awake: Avoid cradling, rocking, or feeding to sleep.
- Say “Good night!” and leave the room
- If your baby cries, return to the room, sit in the chair (for the first night it should be 1 foot from their crib) and offer soft, calm verbal reassurances until your baby calms. Note: Avoid stroking your baby or picking them up, as this may stimulate and/or create a sleep crutch.
- When your baby settles, leave the room.
- If your baby cries out again, return to the chair.
If you’re looking for help with sleep training using the Chair Method, download The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ app it will help you get all of the sleep fundamentals in place all while guiding you step by step through sleep training, using a method that best suits your baby and your family.
Chair Method Night 2:
For your second night of using the chair method for sleep coaching, move your chair back another foot and repeat the process as you did on night 1: leave the room and reenter only if your baby cries out.
On night 3, you move your chair another foot, then another foot the next night, and so on – until your chair is in the hallway and your baby is falling asleep independently.
What if the Chair Method Doesn’t Work?
Some babies will become more active or awake in their parents or caretakers’ presence. If you notice your little one’s protesting seems to escalate when you use the chair method, you should try another sleep training method .
This is why using the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ app is so helpful, it will customize a sleep training method and plan that will work best for you and your little one.
How Long Does the Chair Method Take?
Every baby is unique, and the chair method can be a more time intensive method of sleep training, but on average the chair method takes 2-3 weeks when delivered consistently.
Can I Use the Chair Method for Nap Training?
Yes, you can definitely use the chair method for naps, but it may not be as effective. Nap time is by nature very short and your baby’s sleep drive during the day is always much lower than it is at night – so often this approach to slepe training can eb problematic at nap time.
If your baby tends to settle pretty fast when you’re in the room, then by all means use the chair method while nap training.
Can I Use the Chair Method to Sleep Train a Toddler?
You can use the chair method to sleep train a toddler, but keep in mind that a toddler, especially if they’re older, may be more vocal in their sleep protests and/or try to talk with you if you use the chair method. A more hands-off approach like CIO may be best here.
What if The Chair Method Doesn’t Work?
Every baby is different and not all methods will work on all babies. If you’ve tried the chair method and it’s not helping your baby, you may want to try a more hands-off approach like Ferber.
The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ can help you determine the best sleep coaching method for your little one – simply enter some basic information about their sleep habits and your preferences, and this groundbreaking app will do the rest. You can start by taking your free sleep assessment test today!
How Long Does Sleep Training Take?
Initial results for sleep training with the chair method can take about 7 days. However, sleep training is a process that requires 100% consistency and may take a few weeks to fully resolve sleep. Also, since your baby’s sleep evolves as they grow you may need to revisit sleep training more than once. For example, in addition to dropping naps, your baby will likely experience sleep regressions – both of which are completely normal and harmless parts of their development.
Fear not, the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ will be with you every step of the way!
That may sound like a lot of work, but sleep training will without a doubt lead to more restful nights for your baby, and you. Plus, sleep training has incredible health benefits for your baby.
How Does Sleep Training Help My Baby?
In addition to teaching your baby how to fall asleep independently and stay asleep for longer, thus helping them grow and meet their developmental milestones, sleep training has long-term health benefits for babies, including:
- Improved emotional balance
- Stronger learning and cognitive skills
- Less obesity
For more on the benefits of sleep coaching, read our piece: How Sleep Training Sets Your Baby Up for Success .
Can My Partner and I Trade When Sleep Coaching?
Yes, you can trade but just not during the same shift– that is, you take one shift and stay in the chair until your baby is asleep, your partner can take the next shift– but it’s best not to switch on the same shift. That is, don’t have one partner start a shift sitting on the chair and then the other partner take over mid shift – you can only switch once your baby has fallen asleep.
For more insights and guidance into the sleep training journey, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. Already this easy-to-use app has helped hundreds of parents successfully teach their babies to fall asleep independently and stay asleep for longer periods – and we know it can do the same for you!
“Sleep Training,” Pediatric Annals .
“Development of infant and toddler sleep patterns: real-world data from a mobile application,” Journal of Sleep Research .
“Study links irregular sleep patterns to metabolic disorders,” National Institutes of Health .
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.