ferber method

If you’re a tired parent searching for answers on how to help your baby sleep better, the Ferber Method is a name you need to know. In this complete guide, I’ll explain everything you need to understand about the Ferber Method. It’s a proven way to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own. I’ll break it down into simple steps, discuss when it’s best to use it, and when to quit. 

What is the Ferber method? 

Dr.Richard Ferber developed the Ferber method in 1985 to solve sleep problems in children. This method aims to sleep-train a child so that they self-soothe themselves at night if they wake up and get back to sleep on their own. 

The method involves allowing the child to cry for a designated time interval before he receives comfort from the parents. Richard Ferber has anticipated that if everything follows as per his prescribed plan, there is a high chance that the child will get trained in 7 days.

Importance of the Ferber method

The popular Ferber method for sleep training plays an important part in developing a child’s sleep patterns. This sleep training technique is for children and emphasizes teaching the baby to sleep soothe and fall asleep independently.  

In the long term, the child becomes able to sleep long hours at night with very few awakenings. The Ferber method helps establish healthy sleep patterns in both children and parents, which promotes better health, mood, and overall well-being of the family.

Goals and principles of the Ferber method:

With every sleep training technique, there are some goals and principles that need to be known to parents who want to follow them. Following are some major goals and principles of the Ferber method:

Goals:

Enable self-soothing habits.✔️
Establish a consistent bedtime routine.✔️
Improves parent’s well-being.✔️

Principles:

The child cannot be held in arms unless there is an emergency.✔️
Parents have to intervene after completing the gradual extinction.✔️
This training needs consistency and patience to achieve desired results.✔️

Does the Ferber method work?

Yes, the Ferber method works well for many children. However, not every child is the same. Some parents may not find it helpful. So, the result varies from child to child.

Other than the response of a child to the Ferber method of sleep training, some parents do not like the idea of letting the child cry (even for a few minutes).

When you are deciding whether you should use the Ferber method or not, you should consider your own parenting style, your child’s temperament, and your family’s comfort. Discuss the plan with your partner. You can also talk to the doctor about the sleep training method you are considering.

For more insights and information you can read our related blogs on “Does the Ferber method work”.

How do you know if the Ferber method is suitable for your baby?

Before starting the Ferber method, the parents need to observe some of the factors to know if the method is suitable for their baby or not. The following are some important points that need special attention:

Age The most important factor to note is that the Ferber method is suitable for babies who are at least 6 months old. Because babies of this age start a solid diet as well and need fewer nighttime feedings, it becomes easier for the parents to follow the technique.
Temperament of the babyAnother main factor to consider is the temperament of the child. So babies are naturally adaptive and do not fuss a lot about changes whereas some babies are very sensitive to change and have a hard time adapting to a new routine.
Medical concernsIf your baby has any health issues where he can’t be left alone, the method is not suitable.
Family orientation and environment You need to see if you and your partner can catch up with the Ferber method easily as it needs a lot of consistency and patience. You need to have a separate space for the child you want to train and lots of compromise on the sleep for at least a week or more.
Spousal or family supportBefore starting the Ferber method, you need to decide on a partner for the process. It’s not a one-man show, you would need your spouse or any other family member to be with you because there would be times when you would need emotional, physical, and mental support from someone. So choose a partner effectively.

When to start the Ferber method:

When you are done with all the research on the Ferber method and find it suitable for your baby and you, then it is time to start. But again at the time of activating the technique, there are close factors to consider, such as:

Age If the baby is  6 months old or above, you can go ahead with the training anytime
Baby’s healthAt the time of the training, please closely watch your baby 2-3 days prior. Things to note such as teething, sleep regression, growth spurt, general illness, or change in behaviour.
Parents availability Start the Ferber method when you know you would be fine missing sleep at night. If you are a working person, you need to take off for at least a week. The house chores like cooking, laundry, and groceries need to be done before starting the training so that you can catch up on some sleep in the daytime when the baby naps.

What to expect when you start the Ferber method?

There are a lot of things that are expected to have happened when you start the Ferber method. It is essential to know some of the expected aspects of the Ferber method.

1- Initial days crying: 

The early days of implementing the Ferber method, especially the 2nd and the 3rd day are the hardest. It is because the child would cry when out in bed or when he finds him alone in the middle of the night. So be ready for some serious waterworks in the initial nights.

2- Resistance:

Your child may resist when you put him to bed after he has experienced 1 or 2 nights following the Ferber method. He might resist going to his room or even cry his lungs out when you try to leave the room.

3- Emotion disbalance:

During the initial days, parents would feel sad and overwhelmed when they hear their child crying. Also, lack of sleep and continuous crying can make the parents tired and sleep-deprived. 

Due to such a roller coaster, some parents give up in the initial days of the training, so you need to know that it is quite normal to feel that way. All you need is to be consistent and tough as the result is beneficial for your child.

4- Gradual improvement:

If the parents follow the Ferber method correctly, then there are high chance that they will notice gradual improvement within a few days. Just like other training such as potty training, and diaper-free training, the child gradually adapts to the changes in a few days, in the Ferber method the child gradually learns to self-soothe himself and go back to sleep.

However, the progress will not be so “linear”, sometimes you will see progress and sometimes it will look like this method is not working. 

Learn here how to know if ferber method is working?

ferber method guide

The Ferber method step by step:

Once you make up your mind that you will implement the Ferber method, there are some prerequisites of the training that need to be started one week before the implementation.

1- You have to set a consistent bedtime routine. The time should be the same as you want to set during the training too.

2- Include some bedtime rituals like bathing, massaging, putting on a comfortable night dress, lullabies, and lots of cuddles.

3- Set a feeding time before bedtime so that the child sleeps peacefully.

4- Introduce the new room/space to the child and let him spend some time in the room in the daytime as well. You can start giving him naps in the same bed so that the child gets familiar with the surroundings.

Now let’s see how the Ferber method has to be followed from day 1 to day 7

DAY 1:

1- Start preparing the child for bedtime 30 minutes before bedtime. Follow all the bedtime rituals. Now enter the room,dim the lights, and put the baby in the bed/crib while he is still awake but drowsy by that time. 

2- This would be the most crucial step as now you have to leave the room. Since your child would not be used to such a pattern, 95% chances are there that he will cry as soon as you leave the room.

3- When you leave the room, and your child starts to cry, you have to wait for 3 minutes outside his room before entering. After 3 minutes, you can go inside the room, and briefly comfort the child by patting his back or singing any lullaby he likes.

The interaction has to be short and the eye contact must not be direct. You cannot pick up the child and can only comfort him with words or touching. After 2 minutes of comforting, you have to leave the room again.

4- After the first check-in, whenever your child cries, you have to wait for 5 minutes outside the room and can do 2nd check-in after spending 5 minutes outside the room. The comforting pattern should be the same as mentioned earlier.

5- For the 3rd and all next check-ins you have to wait for 10 minutes before intervening.

Read my blog “How to check in during the Ferber method” for more in-depth information

DAY 2: 

1- Follow the same bedtime and bedtime rituals and put the baby in bed/crib.

2- Leave the room and follow the Ferber method chart for check-ins. On the second day, the first check-in must be 5 minutes, the second check-in must be after 10 minutes and the 3rd and the subsequent check-in should be done after 12 minutes.

3- Keep the comforting session brief and less interactive. This will help the baby to gradually learn self-soothing.

Day 3: 

1- Follow the same bedtime and bedtime rituals and place the baby in bed/crib.

2- Leave the room and follow the Ferber method chart for check-ins. On the second day, the first check-in must be 10 minutes, the second check-in must be after 12 minutes and the 3rd and the subsequent check-in should be done after 15 minutes.

Day 4: 

1- Follow the same bedtime and bedtime rituals and put the baby in bed/crib.

2- Leave the room and follow the Ferber method chart for check-ins. On the second day, the first check-in must be 12 minutes, the second check-in must be after 1 minute and the 3rd and the subsequent check-in should be done after 17 minutes.

Day 5: 

1- Follow the same bedtime and bedtime rituals and put the baby in bed/crib.

2- Leave the room and follow the Ferber method chart for check-ins. On the second day, the first check-in must be 15 minutes, the second check-in must be after 17 minutes and the 3rd and subsequent check-in should be done after 20 minutes.

Day 6:

1- Follow the same bedtime and bedtime rituals and put the baby in bed/crib.

2- Leave the room and follow the Ferber method chart for check-ins. On the second day, the first check-in must be 17 minutes, the second check-in must be after 20 minutes and the 3rd and subsequent check-in should be done after 25 minutes.

Day 7:

1- Follow the same bedtime and bedtime rituals and put the baby in bed/crib.

2- Leave the room and follow the Ferber method chart for check-ins. On the second day, the first check-in must be 20 minutes, the second check-in must be after 25 minutes and the 3rd and subsequent check-in should be done after 30 minutes.

Ferber method chart:

The method involves allowing the child to cry for a designated time interval before he receives comfort from the parents.

ferber method chart
FIRST CHECK-IN AFTERSECOND CHECK-IN AFTERTHIRD CHECK-IN AFTERSUBSEQUENT CHECK-IN AFTER
DAY 1351010
DAY 25101212
DAY 310121515
DAY 412151717
DAY 515172020
DAY 617202525
DAY 720253030

The method has a chart with all the progressive waiting intervals mentioned for the parents to follow for a week. However, the intervals can be modified and prolonged depending on the temperament of the family. The one rule that cannot be changed is you are not allowed to pick up the child to comfort him, except for a few exceptions for example, diaper change, feeding, or any unforeseen emergencies.

How long does it take to sleep train a baby with this method:

Remember that every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another. So it varies from child to child. Some children may start sleeping on their own within a couple of days and some might take longer than 7 days also. 

The more you remain consistent and patient, the more chances of easy transition and quicker results are there.

For more insights, you can read my blog “How Long Does Ferber Method Take?”

How do you know if sleep training is working:

Every child shows different signs of progressing for the Ferber method but the are some general positive signs children show when they are taking the Ferber method progressively.

Signs like less crying, self-soothing, and longer sleep stretches are the most common signs of progress in the Ferber method.

Learn more from our blog “How Do I Know If Ferber Method Is Working?” for better understanding in this regard.

Can you stop the Ferber method: 

Yes, you can stop the Ferber method especially when you think that your child has adapted to the changes and started to sleep independently. There are a lot more reasons why you should consider stopping the technique, for that head over to my blog “When to stop the Ferber method?” for more details.

Ferber Method book

Before you start implementing the Ferber method, we would suggest you read Dr. Ferber’s book on the Ferber method, so that you can understand it more deeply.

ferber method guidebook

Solve your child’s sleep problem by the very own Dr. Richard Ferber himself is the ultimate guide you need if you are planning to implement the Ferber method. This well-structured and deep guide is for parents who want to seek a solution for the most challenging issue of their child’s life which is sleep.

Dr. Ferber has addressed various sleep-related concerns of babies from birth and has given insightful advice and strategies to overcome the struggle of sleepless nights. One key component of his book is that Dr. Ferber has presented the Ferber method in the most compassionate and non-judgmental manner and has addressed all the misconceptions, concerns, and rumors about the Ferber method so that the parents can make informed decisions about the child.

The tone he has set in the book is quite understandable and empathetic in that it does not make the parents open Google and search for the medical terms. This ultimate sleep guide is an absolute must-have.

This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

Must-have products while sleep training:

Following are our absolute favorite products that we would like to recommend to parents who want to jump on the bandwagon of sleep training:

Zarbee’s baby massage oil has the two best ingredients that definitely help babies get a soothing sleep and keep them calm. Lavender and chamomile have the most relaxing scents that help the baby to sleep peacefully. Use this oil after a warm bath and see amazing magic.

To make the environment more relaxing, you can install a Homedics sound sleep white noise machine in your baby’s room. This machine helps to cancel out any noise that happens outside the room or the house. A white noise machine is the best choice for kids who are light sleepers and are going through the sleep training process.

Star blackout curtains are a stellar choice for a child’s bedroom who will be going through sleep training soon. The metallic gold stars add a “twinkle twinkle little star” vibe to the room while its true blackout capacity blocks all kinds of light from outside. Whether it is day or night, the room environment will remain the same so that the child sleeps peacefully.

When to avoid the Ferber method:

It is important to know that the Ferber method has to be avoided in some cases, if you are making up your mind about the Ferber method, these factors should be known to you:

1- You should avoid the Ferber method when your baby is less than 6 months old. However, you can sleep train a child less than 6 months old in a different way. Find out more in our blog “Can You Use The Ferber Method For 4 Month Old? (Alternative)”

2- The Ferber method should be avoided if your baby has started showing symptoms and signs of teething. Don’t start the Ferber method in that particular phase and wait for the child to settle down for a while. Select the best time for sleep training afterward. Starting sleep training while knowing the child is teething will just make it worse.

3- Don’t start the Ferber method when you and your partner have other responsibilities. Be mindful that you have to spare a lot of time for sleep training and if you are unable to spend that time on it, the results will be not in your favor.

4- Avoid the Ferber method if your baby is generally sick. Even if your baby caught sickness in the middle of the training you have to stop it immediately and start it all over again once the child is fully recovered.

Ferber method Alternatives:

It’s important to remember that every child is unique, the Ferber Method may not work for everyone and what works for one family may not work for another. 

You can find out many other good sleep training methods that can work for your child if ferber method is not working. 

Find them here: Sleep training methods (Ferber Method Alternatives)

Similar Posts