What is the Ferber Method of Sleep Training? Gentle Ferber Method & Technique

Does The Ferber Method Work?

Ask any new parent what is Ferberizing and they will either tell you it’s the best way ever to get your baby to sleep, or they’ll commiserate with whoever will listen about how difficult it is to hear your baby cry it out. Yes, “Ferber sleep” does involve crying, but for many families, it’s worth it. While most parents won’t dispute how difficult those first few months of adjusting to life with baby are, it’s agreed that when it comes to sleep training, it’s hard to choose just one method and to stick with it. That is the key when it comes to good sleep – establishing a routine and maintaining it. For more information on the Ferber technique of sleep training, keep reading for some FAQs.

What is the Ferber method?

The Ferber method of sleep training was designed by Dr. Richard Ferber. His book, “Solve Your Child’s Problems” was groundbreaking when it came out in 1985 as it promoted the idea that parents allow their child to cry themselves to sleep so that they can learn to self-soothe and eventually learn to sleep on their own with no assistance from you. The idea of “Ferberizing” your baby is to check on them at timed intervals that get longer and longer over the course of a few nights until baby learns to sleep on his own.

Also known as the “cry it out method,” the Ferber Method of sleep training involves the following:

  • Create a bedtime routine for baby and stick with it!
  • Put baby to sleep in their own sleep space
  • Check in at regular but increasingly longer intervals if baby cries

The Ferber method also means no soothing, no comforting, no anything from you as baby eventually cries himself to sleep. While that may sound harsh, this method of sleep training tends to be much harder on parents than it is for baby. If that’s the case, and the sound of your little one crying is too much to take, there are several sleep training methods available, with some taking a gentler approach than others.

What do you do during the Ferber check?

The Ferber check involves letting your child cry, tantrum and likely scream for you until you come in and help soothe them. But you should wait before running in to comfort them and when you do, it should be a brief check in, about 1-2 minutes. The idea is that you are there to reassure your child that you are close and they are safe, but to let them to continue to cry so they eventually learn to self soothe and get to sleep on their own.

What age is appropriate for the Ferber method? Ferber Method For Toddlers?

While most sleep training can start at around 4 months old, when it comes to Ferberizing, it’s best to wait until they’re around 6 months.

How long does the Ferber method take?

When it comes to sleep training of any kind, it all comes down to consistency. Many parents have difficulty hearing their little one cry it out which can cause them to give up on the first not or even think that the method isn’t working. Typically, this method/ training should take about a week.  

Is the Ferber method bad for a baby?

There is some controversy in the parenting world when it comes to the ferber method of sleep training. However, as with most new endeavors with baby, cry it out works with patience and consistency. Some studies have concluded that letting your baby cry himself to sleep for various periods of time does not create any attachment issues or adverse effects in his development. Nor is it considered traumatic.

Can you use a pacifier with the Ferber method?

If you’re Ferberizing your baby, the idea is to remove any tools that help soothe your baby so that they learn to self-soothe on their own – including their pacifier. Some parents swear by this method of sleep training while others are adamantly opposed to this original “cry it out” method. The good news about sleep training is there are plenty of options out there, so find the one that will work best for your lifestyle and stick with it. Establishing a sleep routine is essential in teaching your baby how to get to the best sleep possible, so once you have one, stick with it. It will work well into toddlerhood.

Should you use Ferber for naps?

Most sleep training methods are meant to be used for all sleep, which means for naps, too. Just make sure that to keep the sleep routine consistent, that baby sleeps in the same spot for all sleep. 

Does the Ferber method work?

If you’re wondering does the Ferber method work, it depends who you ask. The truth is, sleep training takes patience and persistence, and for some, letting your little one cry feels like torture. For others, it’s a means to an end. Only you will know what’s best for your baby and if they end up learning to fall asleep on their own after a few fitful nights, then it was worth it.

How long is too long for crying it out?

Because every baby is different, and you know your baby best, it’s hard to say when they’ve cried it out long enough. In those early days of sleep training, it could take up to an hour before he finally falls asleep on his own. Typically, with any method of sleep training, things seem to fall into place by the third night, with the crying eventually coming to an end after a full week.

What happens if ‘cry it out’ doesn't work?

If you find that cry it out method simply isn’t working for you, your baby, or your family, try some other options. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to baby or sleep training. Help is out there – ask your pediatrician for advice every time you need it!

Will a weighted sleep sack help a baby go to sleep?

The Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sacks are good for baby because they help them feel secure and “held” - like a hug - which can also help calm a fussy baby and help him fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Sleep sacks also eliminate the need for anything extra in baby’s crib. No blankets, no toys, just baby in his crib, bassinet or co-sleeper, in nothing but his wearable blanket - which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is the safest way for baby to sleep.  

Keep in mind, weighted sleep sacks are considered safe as long as the weight of the sleep sack is no more than 10% of your baby’s body weight. So a 10-pound baby should wear a sleep sack weighing no more than one pound. A 20- pound baby should wear a sleep sack no more than 2 pounds, and so on. As your child grows older, there is some wiggle room by about a pound or two, so always read the manufacturer’s instructions, and when in doubt about anything baby related, consult with your pediatrician.

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