SITBACK Method Unveiled: Your Sleep Training Secret Weapon
- The SITBACK method originated from Taking Cara Babies, a sleep and parenting consultancy agency founded by Cara Dumpalin.
- If your baby wakes during the night, the SITBACK method encourages you to let them fall back asleep without needing a feed.
- Sleep training is most effective when babies sleep in their own bed for naps or at night.
- You can use the SITBACK method at night and for naps.
New parents know how exhausting the newborn phase is. You may feel like you’ll never sleep or have a glimpse of your old life again. However, once the first few months are behind you, you can consider sleep training your baby to promote good sleep habits.
There are many sleep training methods, and it can be overwhelming for exhausted parents to think about, especially in the first weeks. Which one do you choose? As a new mom, I felt lost with all the choices, but understanding each method helped me narrow down my choices.
The SITBACK method offers a gradual approach to sleep training with limited tears and helps babies learn to fall asleep independently.
Understanding Sleep Training
Newborn sleep is finicky; sometimes, learning your baby’s sleep pattern and achieving better sleep takes a little work. Sleep training a toddler shouldn’t be rocket science, but it feels like that sometimes.
What is Sleep Training?
Sleep training helps babies learn to fall asleep independently, leading to good sleep habits. There are various types of sleeping training, some involving cry-it-out and others taking a more gradual approach.
With sleep training, you put your baby down while tired but awake so they learn to fall asleep on their own. You can sleep train for naps and nights simultaneously or tackle one at a time.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends starting sleep training when your baby is 4–6 months old11. Cleveland Clinic. When and How To Sleep Train Your Baby. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-and-how-to-sleep-train-your-baby. At that point, your baby’s sleep cycle is more mature, and their circadian rhythm starts to take effect.
You may decide to wait until your baby is a bit older if you don’t feel they’re ready for sleep training. You know your baby best!
In addition, you’ll have to consider whether nighttime feedings are still necessary for your baby, which you can discuss with your pediatrician. Typically, newborns feed every two to three hours.
Common Sleep Training Methods
If you search for sleep training methods, there are plenty of results, so it can be challenging to decide on one. However, it’s always best to choose one that you feel comfortable with instead of what everyone else is doing.
Some of the most common sleep training methods include:
Every sleep training method has pros and cons, especially if you want to avoid crying. You’ll also quickly learn that not all sleep training methods work for all babies. (I used different ones for each of my three kids!)
Generally, sleep training helps establish solid bedtime routines, which leads to better temperament, adaptability, and low distractibility in infant sleep.
Unveiling the SITBACK Method
Let’s look at how the SITBACK method started and the steps to make it work.
Origin of the SITBACK Method
The SITBACK method was developed by Taking Cara Babies, a sleep and parenting consultancy founded by Cara Dumaplin, a neonatal nurse. As a certified sleep consultant, Cara has a sleep course on age-appropriate strategies to help get your baby to sleep.
Taking Cara Babies also teaches parents to meet their babies where they currently are developmentally and not rush the process.
In addition, Cara teaches a newborn sleep course to help parents understand sleepy cues, wake windows, and how to calm a fussy baby.
She doesn’t only offer sleep programs for newborns; there are courses for children up to 4 years of age.
Cara’s method differs from other sleep training methods, like the cry-it-out method, because of its gradual approach to establishing sleep habits. The SITBACK method also recommends using a sound machine to help your baby sleep through the night.
While she doesn’t specify which one to use, I’ve had success with Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine. One of the Hatch’s top features is that you can adjust it from your phone, preventing interrupting your baby while they fall asleep.
- Our latest, updated Rest 2nd gen sound machine is now Wi-Fi enabled, with dimmable clock and even more features for dreamy sleep!
- Sound Machine. Your Rest 2nd gen comes fully loaded with expert curated sleep sounds like white noise, ocean, wind, fan, heartbeat, rain, lullabies and more to keep your little one dreaming through the night. To access even more content, including sleep stories, modern lullabies, mini mindfulness moments and more, give Hatch+ membership a try! Subscription sold separately in app; free trial included.
- Smart Night Light. Fun, bedside lamp with infinite custom color hues. Perfect for boys or girls. Illuminate the crib and changing table to ease nighttime infant feedings. Make the dark less scary in your child’s room with a calming glow.
- Time-to-Rise & Time-for-Bed. Program color and sound to let your early riser know when to stay in bed and when it’s ok to wake up. Build a routine to train your little one to wind down for naps and bedtime.
The SITBACK method is effective because it:
- Ensures your baby goes to sleep at a regular time.
- Helps avoid an overstimulated baby, which makes bedtime more challenging.
- Promotes independent sleep at night and during nap time.
- Teaches babies how to fall back to sleep independently.
- Works on getting babies to sleep longer stretches at night.
- Helps navigate through a sleep regression.
- Helps establish solid sleep schedules and a bedtime routine.
An In-Depth Look at SITBACK
The SITBACK method isn’t just about putting your baby to sleep at night. It’s about reassuring them you’re there by teaching them to fall asleep independently.
When you search the internet, you’ll find various definitions of the SITBACK method, which can get confusing. To get the official information, you’ll have to sign up for a course by Taking Cara Babies.
However, the basic idea remains the same: observing your baby before intervening. In addition, you should plan on staying at each step for a minute or two before moving on to the next.
S – Stop and Observe
When laying your baby down for sleep, it’s best to allow time for self-soothing to promote sleep independence. You’ll learn how long your baby can go without some love from you, and it’s normal to start with shorter intervals and then work your way up.
You’ll also learn whether your baby’s cry is an awake cry or a slight fuss in their sleep. Understanding the difference is essential so you don’t accidentally pick up your baby while sleeping.
I – Increase the Sound Machine
The sound machine frequently triggers sleep cues in the SITBACK method, so if your little one is having difficulty falling asleep, try increasing the sound.
According to a 2014 article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics22. Hugh, S. C., Wolter, N. E., Propst, E. J., Gordon, K. A., Cushing, S. L., & Papsin, B. C.. Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels. Pediatrics. 2014;133(4), 677–681. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-3617, keeping the maximum sound level at 50 decibels is recommended. This is relatively quiet—similar to the noise level of a household fan or refrigerator.
T – Touch
If the patting or shushing doesn’t work, you can try gently stroking your baby’s head for reassurance. However, ensure you don’t overstimulate your baby so you can maintain a regular sleep schedule.
B – Binky
You can use a binky (pacifier) during sleep training if your baby uses it. My baby girl couldn’t live without hers, so it was vital when I decided to sleep train.
However, if your baby is asleep and the pacifier falls out, don’t try to put it back in. You’ll likely end up waking them in the process.
A – Assess for Hunger Cues
At this point, you’ll want to see if your baby needs a feeding before falling asleep on their own. You can also check whether a bit of reassurance with a pat on the back will help get your baby to sleep.
While it can be frustrating when your baby won’t fall asleep, it’s best to remain calm and take a deep breath because your little one may sense your stress.
C – Cuddle
While newborn sleep is important, so are the kisses and cuddles. While the SITBACK method encourages babies to fall asleep independently, it also promotes reassurance through kissing and cuddling.
However, you’ll want to try to decrease the amount of intervention as you sleep train. While you should always change your baby if they have a dirty diaper, avoiding unnecessary changes during sleep training is best.
If your baby requires a diaper change, try to stay quiet and keep the lights dimmed to prevent stimulating your little one.
You may consider blackout curtains and a sound machine to block out unwanted light or sound.
K – Keep it Up and Offer Kisses
It would be nice if one round of the SITBACK method worked for every baby, but sometimes you get to the last step and need to start over. If your baby has difficulty sleeping, don’t hesitate to pick them up and offer more cuddles and kisses.
In addition, while the need for full feedings at night diminishes as your baby gets older, you may occasionally find they need an extra feeding before they fall asleep.
How to Implement the SITBACK Method
Now that we’ve covered what the SITBACK method entails, let’s look closer at when you should start and tips to make it successful.
When Can I Start Using SITBACK?
Like other sleep training methods, it’s best to wait until your baby is at least four months old before you start the SITBACK method. A newborn recently home from the hospital isn’t ready to start sleep training.
However, once your baby has passed the newborn stage, you’ll likely consider a better approach to bedtime.
Life can get hectic, so if it’s not the right time for sleep training, that’s okay. Your baby is constantly learning new skills, and you’ll know when the best time is to sleep train.
Practical Tips for Using SITBACK
Here are a few tips to consider while using the SITBACK method:
- Learn your baby’s sleep cues to know when to put them down. Sleepy cues are the number one way to prevent overtiredness.
- Adjust the SITBACK method to your child’s needs, making it flexible as you see fit.
- Understand that sleep training during illnesses, travel, or other significant life changes may make it more challenging.
- Use white noise to help block out unwanted background noise.
- Be consistent; otherwise, it will be difficult for your baby to adjust to sleeping without you rocking them to sleep.
- Put your baby in their bed so they associate their room with sleeping.
Understanding the Results of SITBACK
While the SITBACK method has proven itself effective, it’s always wise to understand what you should expect.
What to Expect from SITBACK Sleep Training
Sleep training doesn’t happen overnight, although it would be nice. Sometimes, you’ll notice longer naps or longer stretches at night. Other times, it takes weeks before you see a difference.
Remember sleep regressions are expected, and it’s always best to stick with your sleep training methods through that stage. Remind yourself, “This too shall pass,” as you work through a challenging development phase.
However, staying consistent is key in making the SITBACK method work for your family.
How Do I Know if SITBACK is Working?
All parents want to know if what they are doing is effective. Luckily, there are indicators to look for that will help you know if sleep training is successful.
Signs the SITBACK method is working:
- Your baby can put themselves back to sleep at night consistently.
- Your baby is sleeping longer stretches at night.
- Nap times are consistent, and your baby is rested.
- Your baby has regular sleep cycles, which don’t interfere with their sleep.
- You have a solid bedtime routine.
- Your baby doesn’t require unnecessary feeding before bed.
If you don’t see the expected results, review the step-by-step guide for the SITBACK method, ensuring you follow each step. It’s pretty standard for it to take a few weeks for babies to get on a set schedule, so don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen overnight.
Can the SITBACK method help with sleep regression in babies?
If your child is sleep-trained before a sleep regression hits, they are more likely to return to their schedule once the regression ends. However, it’s important not to assist them in sleeping during the regression.
How can a parent adapt the SITBACK method for twins or multiple babies?
Sleep-training twins with the SITBACK method is possible, but you’ll have to determine whether you sleep-train them together or separately.
How does the SITBACK method affect the parent-child bond and attachment?
A 2016 study published in American Family Physician33. Shaughnessy, A. F.. Getting an Infant to Sleep: Graduated Extinction and Sleep Fading Are Effective. American Family Physician. 2016. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2016/1101/p750.html found that sleep training doesn’t harm the attachment between a parent and child. Instead, sleep training helps decrease maternal and infant stress.
Can the SITBACK method be combined with other sleep training techniques?
You can combine the SITBACK method with other sleep training techniques, especially if you don’t mind a few tears. For example, you might implement certain aspects of the Ferber method, like letting your baby cry for a few minutes before consoling them.
- Cleveland Clinic. (2021, May 3). When and How To Sleep Train Your Baby. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-and-how-to-sleep-train-your-baby
- Hugh, S. C., Wolter, N. E., Propst, E. J., Gordon, K. A., Cushing, S. L., & Papsin, B. C. (2014). Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels. Pediatrics, 133(4), 677–681. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-3617
- Shaughnessy, A. F. (2016, November 1). Getting an Infant to Sleep: Graduated Extinction and Sleep Fading Are Effective. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2016/1101/p750.html
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