The viral "100-second sleep training method" explained!
Social media bombards us with parenting "hacks," some great and some not so much...
Can waiting for 100 seconds really help our babies sleep better?
Why do babies wake up in the middle of the night?Should parents be concerned, or is this normal?
When looking at babies and their night wakings, we need to consider them in two separate categories. Babies 0-16 weeks and babies four months and older.
0-16 weeks, your baby does not have a functioning body clock, and their sleep cycles have yet to mature. They will also wake frequently for night feeds and discomfort and need lots of support to fall asleep and return to sleep - multiple night wakings are completely normal.
Around the 4-month mark, your baby's body clock starts to develop, and their sleep cycles begin to resemble those of an adult. While infants may still wake up for night feedings, this will gradually decrease as the baby's metabolism becomes regulated and their weight gain stabilizes. As sleep cycles mature, the baby is now able to start consolidating their nighttime sleep and gradually take longer stretches.
Understanding the Sleep Habits of Infants and Adults
Did you know that babies and adults alike tend to wake up briefly between sleep cycles to check their surroundings? This instinctual behavior dates back to our caveman days and is no longer necessary, yet it persists. These wake-ups are typically so brief that we don't even remember them! However, if a baby falls asleep in one way (such as being held or fed) and wakes up in a different environment (like alone in their crib), they will wake up fully and cry out for their original sleep environment. This cycle can repeat itself multiple times throughout the night, resulting in frequent wake-ups. So, if you notice your baby waking up every 1.5-2 hours, this is likely the reason.
What is the 100-second sleep method?
The viral Tik-Tok post by "The Baby Dream Coach" advised parents that when their baby wakes, they should wait for 100 seconds before responding to them.
Thoughts on the 100-second rule — Is this something parents should try?
If parents are looking for a way to reduce night wakings and respond to their baby in a supportive, consistent way that is conducive to longer stretches of nighttime sleep over time, the 100-second rule is a great option!Knowing when and how to respond to your baby can be confusing, so taking a pause can help you assess whether your baby is escalating and needs your support or could be about to fall back to sleep!
How, as a parent, do you know when to intervene? Will the sound of the baby's cry indicate something is truly wrong?
The most important thing to remember is that babies have only two ways of communicating - crying and babbling! Video monitors are helpful here, and we can usually read from our baby's expression or how they are moving in the crib as to what they might be experiencing.If a baby has a true need, such as hunger, they are too hot or cold, or they're feeling unwell, their cries will escalate, and they are very unlikely to settle without your support. If your baby is simply crying and whining on and off or babbling and chatting to themselves, they will likely return to sleep before you know it - leave them to it! If your baby is crying, pay attention to how they are crying. Are they at a 10? Full lung screams with no pause for a continued period? Then they're really upset and have a need that needs to be met ASAP.
Is your baby whining, growling, crying intermittently, rubbing their head or ears, kicking their legs, or turning their head side to side? They're likely overtired, annoyed to be awake, and trying to settle down and return to sleep. Taking a pause here will be helpful to see if they are just about to fall asleep or need some support to get there.
Does this rule work for every baby, or does it depend?
Every baby is unique, especially if they may have health concerns in the mix, such as digestive issues or feeling unwell; this rule will not be helpful. If your baby is four months plus with no health concerns and your primary care physician has given you the green light that they are ready for longer stretches of sleep, this method will work well to help your baby return to sleep peacefully with time.
Should parents give this method a shot?
The parent's goals have to play a big part here. Suppose parents are hoping for longer stretches of nighttime sleep, and they have a hard time knowing when to respond or how to be consistent. In that case, this method provides structure, consistency, and reduced stress with just a short interval before responding to your baby if necessary. They could even return to sleep before you reach 100!
So, what can we do to improve night wakings for your baby?
Keep your environment conducive to both your baby's and your sleep. If you need to tend to your baby in the middle of the night, keep stimulation to a minimum so that baby can easily return to sleep and symbolize it's sleepy time, not playtime. Keep all lights off, leave your phone at your bedside, and if you need a light source, use a red or orange night light to help boost sleep hormones and give you enough vision to move around the room.
White or yellow light from lamps or your phone will suppress your sleep hormones and boost adrenaline and cortisol levels, making it difficult to fall back asleep!
The best way to support a peaceful night's sleep is to ensure the baby takes on plenty of calories throughout the day and has a good balance of adequate naps and daytime activity. If you're looking to improve nighttime wakings, start with bedtime! When and how baby falls asleep at bedtime will set the tone for the rest of the night, so if sleeping peacefully in their crib until morning is the goal, work on supporting your baby to sleep at bedtime while they are laying in their crib, and gradually wean them off of your constant support. Sleep training methods are nuanced, and each child will respond differently, so working with a certified pediatric sleep consultant will help you discover and implement the method that is the perfect fit for your baby!
Lindsay Sinopoli - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Lactation Counselor & Newborn Care Specialist. Lindsay is certified and accredited by 4 international institutions. and as a Mum of 3 under 5, she's been through it all. Lindsay's customized 1:1 sleep and lactation support is centred in connected, evidence-based solutions, transforming sleep and feeding challenges and granting families a Jolly Good Night's Sleep!