Sleep – the one thing most new parents crave for! Are you a new mum or a dad who has been struggling to get some much-needed shut-eye, ever since that little miracle arrived? Then there are a number of sleep training methods to help your little one sleep on their own and, yes – throughout the night. Have you tried the Ferber method of sleep training? Wondering what we are talking about? Read on to know more. This could just be what you have been waiting for!
The Ferber method is a sleep training method that aims to help your baby sleep better. This method aims to teach your little one to go to sleep on their own and through the night, without any intervention or help from others, including you.
Your baby can go to sleep on their own? Don’t worry, you did read that sentence right. Yes, this Ferber method, which has been in practice for a few years, does help babies go to sleep on their own even if they wake up in the middle of the night.
For all those parents who have been suffering sleepless nights, we are sure you can’t wait to try this Ferber method that can help you get a full night’s sleep. However, if you are wondering when to start the Ferber method, you need to wait till your baby is at least 6 months to start any sleep training, including the Ferber method.
The reason behind this is that babies are capable of self-soothing only around this age and will need some assistance until then. This does not mean you need to start sleep training your baby the day they hit the 6 months mark.
So, when to start the Ferber method? You can start when you are mentally ready and feel your baby is also ready. When babies are around 6 months old, they drop their frequent naps and it can come down to just 2 naps a day. This way, they get to sleep longer at night. Their wake-up time also increases as they get older.
They drop their naps as they get physically active and get better control. They are more interested in exploring their new abilities and their environment. This will also tire them out – another reason why a full night’s sleep is very essential for them.
So what exactly do you do in the Ferber method?
This is different from the ‘cry it out‘ approach as here, you show your baby that you are around and hear them. Your baby knows you will come to them if they call or cry for you. This reassures them and does not traumatize them like the cry it out method, where they just cry and finally calm down on their own.
Here are a few guidelines you will have to follow when you start the Ferber method of sleep training your baby:
This method by Dr. Ferber requires both parents to be on the same page regarding the sleep training. This cannot be done by just one parent while the other parent goes on with their way of putting the baby to bed.
Once you start the Ferber method you need to be consistent. Changes in the pattern will confuse them.
The Ferber method may not work for everyone the same way. While some babies learn to self-soothe within a week’s time, some babies might take longer. You need to be patient and give your baby some time to adapt to self-soothing.
Though the Ferber method age to start sleep training is around 6 months, you can start this a little later too. However, if you start too late, it may not work as your baby will already be set in a particular pattern.
According to the Ferber method, afternoon naps will also have to be in the same place as the nights. If you put your baby in the cribs at night, ensure the naps are in the cribs too. This way, they associate sleep with one place and do not have too many options. Multiple options might even make them choose one place over the other to sleep in.
This chart by Dr. Ferber tells you how long to wait before you respond to your child’s cries, for a whole week.
Source: Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber MD
The next question from any sleep-deprived parent is- how long till Ferber sleep training starts working and my young one starts sleeping through the night?
The answer is – it depends. Though this method has been in practice for years and has a very high success rate, it all depends on you and your baby.
Sometimes, if the baby is just not ready, you may have to consider ditching the entire plan and restarting the sleep training after a few days. Similarly, if you are not consistent in your approach and give in to those cries, you will have to start all over again.
If you are going to “take a break” from the sleep training because your infant fell sick or you are traveling, you may have to start from the beginning.
Such factors can delay the results of the Ferber method.
This is a highly debatable topic as opinions vary from parent to parent. Though many parents see both the cry it out and Ferber sleep methods as very similar in approach, they are indeed different. The Ferber method is less strict and allows you to check on your baby from time to time and slowly eases them into the sleep training practice.
Yes, your baby will cry, it will pinch you on the inside, to let them cry and do nothing about it, but this will help both of you in the long run. Your baby will learn to self-soothe and you will get to sleep a full night without having to wake up a number of times to soothe your baby.
If you feel this is too cruel and are not able to just let your baby cry, then there is no pressure on you to follow this Ferber method. Do remember, this is just a sleep training method that aims to help those parents who are ready to try it and want help to get their babies to sleep through the night.