The Ferber method

An explanation of the Ferber training method of getting your baby to sleep.
One of the major shocks of having a new born is the complete lack of sleep induced by being kept awake by your little one and their small, but incredibly powerful set of lungs. There are many different methods that can be tried in order to get your baby into a regular sleeping pattern, and none are more successful, yet controversial, than the Ferber method.

Devised by the American paediatrician Richard Ferber in 1985 within his book 'Solve your childÂ’s sleep problem,' the Ferber method basically means you leave your child to soothe them self to sleep when they are emotionally and physically ready. Ferber believes this can be done between the first 4-6 months of life, and although has been proven to be incredibly successful, is still a controversial method to adopt.

The Ferber method recommends that following a loving and warm bedtime routine, usually involving bath time, you put your baby to bed awake, then leaving them, even if they cry, for periods of time that increase as the time spent using the method goes on. Ferber argues that it is the putting to bed of a baby awake that teaches them to go to sleep on their own. In order to adopt the Ferber approach, when your baby starts to cry, leave them for roughly five minutes before returning to soothe, but do not pick up or feed them.

When they are settled leave again, and when the crying inevitably starts, return after a slightly longer period of time, gradually increasing this as each night passes. The suggested waiting time is based on how comfortable you feel with the technique and how many days you have using it. Ferber argues that after a few weeks of gradually increasing the waiting time, most, but not all babies will learn to fall asleep on their own, when that are ready, learning that crying earns a check on, not completely devoted and unlimited attention.

The main advantage of the Ferber approach is that is does seem to work, allowing you a much more sound night of sleep after the process has settled into a routine. It also encourages baby to send themselves to sleep when their body and mind tells them to.

The main problem of using, and inparticularly starting the method is the emotional upheaval that leaving your baby crying creates. For most parents, sitting outside their baby's room while they cry, without being able to pick up, feed or cuddle them is extremely difficult, and parents find they simply can't do it, and quit the technique before it takes off.

Parents also find it difficult to gauge how long each wait should be, while this should be measured by how long the method has been in effect, it is important to measure this against how comfortable you are with it, upsetting yourself will only make the technique harder on you and your baby. Measure the emotional effects on you of using the Ferber method and apply this to the waiting time as well as the use of the method overall; it has to be worth the upset for you to adopt it.

The Ferber method has proven popular by many parents in the long run, but there are several factors to address before trying it. Don't underestimate the emotional trauma that controlled crying places on you and your baby; the method works but, as with most things, is not for everyone. If Ferber doesn't work for you there are several others methods to try in order to help settle your little one into a regular sleeping pattern.
Author : Elizabeth Stansfield

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It's really not natural to leave your baby crying. that's their only way to communicate a need.
by paytek 20th Jun 2013, 3:37pm
help, im on day for of the controlled crying, my little girl is 8 and a half months, we started off so well but tonight so far is awful, i am sat here listening to her screaming as i write this! i dont know if i can do it any longer???
by natj 20th Sep 2010, 5:29pm
Firstly, I really think 5-6 months is about right to start this method, though that will vary with baby and parents. Secondly, this is not traumatic or else you are doing it wrong. As a parent you must accept it is *impossible* (and bad for the child) for you to fix every problem your child will have, instead your role is to _help_ where you can. This method, when done right, is you helping the child learn to put themself to sleep - they require this life skill or else you are setting them up for insomnia. It is vital the child knows it is loved and you are close by, but you are simply letting baby know this is sleep time, not cuddle time - it is not "I give up, you can just go ahead and cry all night". I have two confident and loving teens who both learned to sleep with this method, and they have always been excellent sleepers since.
by Soob 11th Jun 2010, 5:31pm
We've had a lot of problems getting my now 13 week old son to sleep and nap and I am desperate to find something that works before he's six months because the idea of relenting and giving Ferber a go out of sheer exasperation absolutely terrifies me. I worry that this method might prove emotionally damaging for my baby because I may be breaking a vital bond and teaching him learned helplessness, which I'm not comfortable with that. Of course, I may be eating my words in a few months when I've tried all the 'kind' techniques I can and STILL can't get him to find a healthy sleep pattern!
by Pigkate 18th Jan 2010, 2:37pm
does this method have any suggestions for using pacifiers when babies wake in the night, and simply require their dummy being put back in?
by stanmoor 23rd Jan 2009, 8:50am
I tried this yesterday. Usually my baby cries all night until he is picked up. But once i calmed him and walked away he seemed to calm himself. I got the first good nights sleep in 3 weeks. I only looked up the method online but I can not think of anything else that might help. I am buying this book right away. We are first time parents and although i know they suggest making the baby wait till he is 6 months but at 3 weeks old he slept in his crib. This worked for us I hope it is the same for you. We are going to try it again for a couple days if it keeps working i will be so thankful. He did cry this morning but he is newborn.
by Jagrus 21st Jan 2009, 5:29pm
I had premature twins and some advice leaned towards not starting the girls on any kind of sleep training until 6 months. It's really about your babies weight (my opinion) and how much they can eat in the day. I have one twin that this method took us 1 week to really get traction and now she is totally trained. She's the one that is bigger and has less digestive problems. The other twin is smaller - eats less - and I will probably not start til 6 months. Be sure to keep this in mind - every baby is different you have to follow your intuition too. Lastly, as a mom of multiples I cannot tell you how exciting it is that at least one baby sleeps through the night. The fact that I sleep long enough to dream is awesome.
by Nita0102 13th Jun 2008, 8:39am