How The Chair Sleep Training Method Works
Updated Feb 22nd 2023 | 8 min read
Updated Feb 22nd 2023 | 8 min read
Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant
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!
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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!
The best time to start sleep training your baby is at 4 months . Sleep training at four months is best for babies because:
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:
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.
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:
Calming, consistent bedtime routines are the cornerstone of sleep coaching for two reasons:
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.
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.
Here are step-by-step instructions for the chair method of sleep training:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
For more on the benefits of sleep coaching, read our piece: How Sleep Training Sets Your Baby Up for Success .
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!
The chair method of sleep training gradually weans your baby off of your presence as they fall asleep by having you move your “comfort chair” further from their crib each night. This teaches your baby how to fall asleep independently.
One of the gentlest methods of sleep coaching, the chair method can take a few weeks. Compared to more hands off sleep training methods, the chair method takes a bit longer.
Every baby is unique and respond differently to the various sleep training methods. Some babies will really love the chair method – a parents’ presence helps calm them – but other babies may become too excited or stimulated by their parent being there while they try to fall asleep. If you try the chair method and your baby becomes too stimulated, try a different sleep training method.
Your baby can be sleep trained if they meet 3 criteria: they’re 3-4 months or older; they’re 12 lbs. or more, and you’ve spoken to your pediatrician.
“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 .
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.