The Ferber Method

Baby Sleep Tips - The Ferber Method

One of the most important things in getting you baby to sleep properly is for your baby to learn to sleep on his or her own. The reason it is so difficult for many parents - why parents of a newborn suffer from so many sleepless nights - is because your baby, at first, isn't used to sleeping on his own, and when he wakes up in the night he cries for his mother: being in the presence of his mother is only way he knows how to get to sleep. It is natural that this transition from sleeping with the mother, to sleeping on his own, will take some time for your baby. Many baby sleep tips involve setting up a strict nighttime routine, and introducing objects - such as stuffed animals - into the bed that your baby can associate with sleep. If you find after some months that your baby is still not able to sleep on his own, you can try what is known as the Ferber method.

Invented by Dr. Richard Ferber, the Ferber method is the most common way of weaning your child away from the mother, in terms of his sleep habits. It is usually successful within a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it is important that you choose a week where you can afford to lose some sleep to begin the Ferber method. Especially at the beginning of the process, the Ferber method does require that you spend a lot of time listening to your baby crying, and if you attempt it at a time when you are desperate to sleep, you run the risk of breaking down and allowing your child to sleep with you, or sleeping in the room with him. If you do so you risk undoing a lot of work that you will have put into the method.

Using the Ferber Method to put your Child to Sleep

The first night you attempt the Ferber method, put your child to bed as you normally do. Your baby should be tired but still awake when you put him to bed, so that he is left to fall asleep on his own. After you leave the room, the baby will inevitably start crying. Allow him to cry for about 5 minutes, then re-enter the room to console him. It's important that you stay in the room for only a short time - even if he is still crying - and that you don't pick him up or rock him. This second time you leave the room, wait 10 minutes before returning in the same manner. The third time wait 15 minutes, and set this as a maximum wait time for the rest of the night.

Every time thereafter, enter the room briefly and then allow your child to cry for 15 minutes. Eventually, he will fall asleep on his own during one of the 15 minute intervals in which you are out of the room. The second night, you should begin with a 10 minute wait before re-entering the room, followed by 15 and then 20 minutes. In a similar fashion, increase your initial and subsequent wait times by 5 minutes each night.

Using this method your child will soon learn to go to sleep on his own. Although it can be difficult to listen to your baby cry, understand that the Ferber method is a safe and effective way of getting your baby to learn to sleep on his own.

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"I am just starting out the Ferber method. Tried it out last night for the first time, and what a great idea. After not getting any sleep for the past month, last night was the first time I slept,almost through the whole night. My 9 month old cried for an hour but after, woke only once for a feeding. What a change from a baby who typically wakes us up 7 or 8 times per night. about every hour."


"I agree with "Dad" we also tried the Ferber Method, although it worked fine with our first born it was a disaster with our second, she just got her self more and more worked up and the crying lasted 2 hrs, it was awful to listen to and in the end my husband and I were so tired and stressed we were fighting with each other, now I am trying the idea of gradually leaving the room but still being within her sight line, and so far it is working 100% better."

mamma meg

"Ferber Method: God what a disaster this was for us.
We tried it with our eldest child for two weeks at least 2 hours of crying every night! Even better was that the constant crying got our youngest upset and out her previously excellent sleep pattern.
It's distressing for all involved and doesn't work for some children. My child got so upset she would soil herself, of course the promoters of this therapy say to carry on. Tsk.
How did we solve the problem? Try the gradually leaving the room method. First night sit next to them, even with your hand comforting them. Second night, sit a bit further away but still in the room. Continue this until you can sit, still visible, but in the doorway. Then keep moving away each night. The idea is to gradually introduce the concept of you not being there when they go to sleep. That worked.
Truthfully, my eldest still has some difficulty going to sleep on her own, but is much better and when I am at home I tell her a story and have a cuddle with her for 15 minutes until she goes to sleep. Is that such a bad thing? I see it as a bit of quality time and usually a nice end to the day."