Does your baby have difficulty sleeping well? Does your infant wake too frequently at night and go back to sleep only after a lot of soothing from your end? Well, you are not alone. Most babies do not know how to sleep on their own. Moreover, when their sleep gets disturbed they do not know how to put themselves back to sleep.
Hence, they want comfort from their mothers. Once a baby has crossed six months of age, his/her need for food at night might decrease and hence ideally the baby should not wake up too frequently at night for feeding. The Ferber method is a scientifically designed approach to help the babies self-soothe themselves so that they are able to sleep better.
Designed by a pediatrician – Dr. Richard Ferber, this method aims to solve infant sleep problems. The Ferber method is all about training your baby to self-soothe by allowing him/her to cry for pre-determined time intervals before you comfort him/her. The Ferber method though a little difficult works great and has proved successful in tackling baby sleep problems.
However, remember that the Ferber sleep training method must be implemented only once your baby crosses six months. Also, before attempting to sleep train your little one ensure that there are no medical reasons behind his/her waking up frequently from sleep. Certain conditions such as ear infections, teething, acid reflux also cause disturbed sleep in babies and may require medical attention.
Before Beginning the Ferber Training Method
The Ferber method requires time and effort on parents’ part. The transition from being comforted to self-soothing can take some time for the baby to adjust to. It will take at least a couple of weeks before your baby learns to sleep well without your comforting. Hence, attempt to the Ferber method when you are not too tired or deprived of sleep. At the beginning of the process, the Ferber method requires parents to spend some time listening to their babies cry.
The baby must be comforted at pre-determined time intervals before he/she finally falls asleep. The key to success with this method lies in doing the regime consistently. If you allow your baby to break the training and sleep with you one day all your effort will get wasted and you will be back to square one. Hence, patience and consistency are important when you are looking to sleep train your baby using the Ferber method.
How to Use the Ferber Method to Help your Baby Sleep Well
Develop A Bed Time Routine
To begin sleep training your baby using the Ferber technique, develop a bed time routine. This could include a relaxing bath or massage, playing soft music, cuddling and loving kisses, etc. Wear your baby comfortable clothes and a fresh diaper before you put him/her to sleep. Having a consistent bedtime routine will enable your baby recognize the difference between play-time and sleep-time and will help him know that it is time for him to sleep.
Make The Baby Slightly Drowsy
The next step suggested by Ferber is to make the baby slightly drowsy by either rocking him or singing a lullaby. Your baby must be drowsy but yet awake. At this point, place your baby in his/her crib. Your baby is most likely going to cry when he/she is placed in the baby-bed alone. At this point, leave the room without comforting your baby. On the first day of sleep training, let your baby cry for 3-4 minutes before you go and comfort him/her. Progressive Waiting is the method advocated by Ferber.
Comfort Your Baby
This means you need to increase the time gradually each day before you go and comfort your baby after placing him/her in the crib. Once you go back to comfort your baby, do not pick him up. Instead gently pat him back to sleep or give him few loving kisses to assure him. Do not spend too much time comforting your baby. Leave the room after a few minutes.
Progressive Waiting Approach
This time instead of waiting 3-4 minutes, lengthen the time interval to 5-6 minutes.Keep practicing the “progressive waiting” approach till your baby finally falls asleep on her own. After a few weeks of sleep training your baby will learn to sleep on his own without fussing. This is because over the course of the few days of sleep training your baby will realize that crying is not going to get him anything and will learn to put himself to sleep.
This method can be taxing as it is emotionally disturbing for parents to listen to their baby cry and do nothing about. However, by sleep training your baby you are teaching him/her a very important skill – how to sleep on their own. Moreover, once babies learn to sleep on their own, they will be well rested and will get good sleep. Once your baby sleeps well, you too can the much needed sleep which will enhance your quality of life.
There are many arguments in favor of and against the Ferber method. Many people are not comfortable with letting the baby cry it out in the crib. However, here it is important to know that Ferber in no way advocates that your child should be left alone to cry it out for the longest possible time. Instead, he advises parents to periodically go and check on the baby and comfort him/her. This way the baby learns that his parents are there for him but he needs to know to sleep by himself. During sleep training your baby, it is important to follow the Ferber method even during the day-time naps.
Though the Ferber method gives successful results in most cases within a few days, each baby is different. If you feel that this method is not working for you and your baby, you can modify it to suit your lifestyle. However, it is important to stick to a particular pattern till your baby learns to fall asleep on his own. Also, if your baby is sick or if you are travelling, you can be flexible or not attempt the training process at all. However, once you want to start the sleep training again, you may have to begin from scratch.