Sleep Learning 101

Extinction Method

What is the Extinction Method?


The Extinction Method is regarded as the “cry-it-out” approach. This is true cry it out.

American paediatrician, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of “Healthy Sleep Habits” is the biggest advocate for this type of sleep training. Interestingly, this method is often recommended by health professionals.


What does the Extinction Method aim to achieve?


The goal is for your baby or child to fall asleep independently, without any help or intervention from an adult, at any time. It eliminates any negative sleep associations like rocking, feeding to sleep, pacifier use, cuddling to sleep, co-sleeping etc very quickly.


So how does the Extinction Method work?


Once your baby or child is ready for sleep, place him in the crib or bed awake. Next, you calmly leave the room and do not return until bedtime or the naptime session is complete.


Pros of the Extinction Method


  • Some babies and children want “all or nothing” meaning if you are not going to feed, rock, offer a pacifier or co-sleep etc then they would rather tackle it alone with no parental intervention. Any sort of gentle or medium sort of comfort can be more unsettling for some children so this method is often effective.
  • It can be very quick. Some babies/children sleep through the night after 2-3 nights of implementation.


Cons of the Extinction Method
  • This sleep training method is the most extreme and controversial.
  • This method can be very distressing for the baby and the parents because there is no form of comfort or reassurance permitted.
  • This method doesn’t allow for mishaps like a soiled nappy, vomiting or being stuck in the crib rails.
  • It is not recommended for a baby who needs to continue to feed during the night.
  • If a child is in a bed this method will not prevent him from leaving the room.


This method is one that I avoid as often as possible. I will try all other methods before going to this. I have had families that have tried all other approaches and then did this with great success. Before going to extinction I recommend trying all other methods for at least 1 month. There are people that choose to go to this method before a month is up. That is their choice.

*This method of sleep training is not recommended for babies who need to continue feeding during the night as this can lead to feeding issues and weight complications. If unsure, speak to your doctor or health nurse professional first.