Sleep Learning 101

Camp Out Sleep Teaching Method

What is the Camp Out Method?

 

The “Camp Out” Method of sleep training is a gentle step-by-step approach to encourage babies and children to sleep independently.

There will be some crying involved but it has a more hands-on, gentle approach. This method may also be known as:

  1. “The Sleep Lady Shuffle”, Kim West author of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight.
  2. “Stay in the Room”, Dana Obleman author of The Sleep Sense Program.
  3. “The Gradual Extinction Method.”
  4. “Chair in the Room.”

The Camp Out Method of sleep training enables you to be in the room with your baby anywhere between 1-4weeks offering support and comfort. As your child progresses through the training, you gradually move away from your child’s crib or bed and fade out any verbal and physical reassurance offered.

 

What does the Camp Out Method aim to achieve?

The goal is for your baby to fall asleep independently without any negative sleep associations or prop, with moderate to high levels of parent intervention that is faded out over a period of time. It is a gentle approach towards change because parents are very present through the process.

 

So how does the Camp Out Method work?

Here is an example of how to apply the ‘Camp Out Method” of sleep training over a period of 13days.

 

Nights 1-4 Place a chair or mattress next to the crib or bed.

If needed, pick your baby up for a cuddle and return him to the crib.

In between, offer gentle touch and verbal reassurance to your child.

Repeat until your child is asleep then leave the room.

Nights 5-8 Place a chair or mattress in the middle of the room.

Fade out or eliminate cuddles.

Offer occasional gentle touch by going over to the crib or bed and give verbal reassurance to your child.

Repeat until your child is asleep then leave the room.

Nights 9-12 Place a chair or mattress by the doorway.

Fade out or eliminate gentle touch.

Offer occasional verbal reassurance to your child.

Repeat until your child is asleep then leave the room.

Nights 13+ Remove the chair or mattress.

Say goodnight and leave the room while your child is awake.

If your child becomes distressed, allow him time to resettle then go into the room if needed.

Offer verbal reassurance then leave for a set period of time.

Fade out these visits over time.

 

Pros of The Camp Out Method
  • You can continue to room share.
  • You can continue to night-feed.
  • You are able to offer physical and verbal comfort so it is a very hands-on approach!
  • It is a gentle approach towards independent sleep.
  • As you are present in the room, you are able to see exactly how your baby or child is responding and you can support them through it.
  • This is a good method for older children who try to escape from their room or have separation issues.

 

Cons of the Camp Out Method
  • Your baby or child can cry a lot more with this method compared to The Extinction Method and The Ferber Method. Babies and children often protest more when their parents are present in the room. Cortisol levels (stress hormone) are lower or non-existent but the cry can appear more intense.
  • Your baby or child may become more stimulated and/or irritated with you being in the room.
  • Your baby or child may not respond well to the verbal and/or physical contact when falling asleep.
  • It can take longer to see progress compared to the Extinction and Ferber Methods.
  • You may find it more stressful seeing your baby cry compared to hearing it from afar.
  • You may need to stay with your baby or child for a long period of time before he falls asleep.
  • This method is hard to execute if you have other children needing your attention at the same time.

 

 

With any sleep training method, it is really important to listen to your baby or child. You may start with one form of sleep training and then you may need to try another approach depending on how your baby or child is responding. Let the approach be lead by the child.