Sleep Learning 101

Fade Out Sleep Teaching Method

What is the Fade Out Method?

The Fade Out Method of sleep training is the only one supported by the attachment parent philosophy.  This method was made famous by American pediatrician, Dr. William Sears who is the author of many Attachment Parenting books including The Baby Book; Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution; and Pinky McKay Sleeping Like a Baby. All of the previously mentioned people are attachment parenting advocates who do not promote themselves as sleep consultants but do actively write about baby sleep.

What does the Fade Out Sleep Method aim to achieve?

The goal is for your baby or child to have lots of assistance to fall asleep through breastfeeding, rocking, cuddling and/or co-sleeping but this help is reduced or “faded out” with no crying involved. Many parents who choose this specific method wish to continue to co-sleep but want to reduce the excessive night waking.

How does the Fade Out Method work?

How this method is applied is up to each individual family. It is a very flexible approach. Here is one example of how this method can be applied.

Example 1: Rocking to sleep.


Week 1 Rock your baby to drowsy then transfer him into his crib.

If your baby wakes once transferred, pick him up and continue to rock until drowsy again.

Repeat until asleep.

Week 2 Place your baby into the crib awake.

If your baby is unsettled, pick him up and rock until he is calm.

Place him into the crib awake.

Repeat until asleep.

Week 3 Place your baby into the crib awake.

If unsettled, try to gently rock your baby or offer gentle touch within the crib.

Week 4 Place your baby into the crib awake.

From here you begin to fade out the amount of gentle touch or help offered within the crib to settle your baby.


Pros of the Fade Out Method
  • You can continue to bed share or co-sleep.
  • You can continue to night-feed.
  • You are able to offer physical and verbal comfort so it’s a very hands-on approach.
  • It is a very gentle approach to change.
  • It is claimed to be a “no-cry” approach.
  • It is in line with the attachment parent philosophy.
  • It is really flexible and completely tailored to each family.


Cons of the Fade Out Method
  • It is a very, very, very slow approach to change. You may become frustrated and “give up” as progress takes a great deal of time.
  • Your baby may not respond to this very gentle method and some babies do not make any progress at all.
  • It cannot be 100% confirm that there will be no crying at all.
  • This method can be very fluid so you may become frustrated at the lack of step-by-step guidelines.

I recommend using a gentle approach like this if you are unsure of where to start with teaching your little one how to sleep. If your baby appears irritated with no progress is being made, you may consider choosing a different method of sleep training.