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Effective Sleep Training Methods for Your Baby: The Ferber Method

Sleep training baby can be a polarizing issue, there are so many different sleep training methods and everyone has their preferred method that works best for them. Here at Nested Bean we know every baby, and every family, is different. Sleep training is not a one size fits all situation. From the pick-up-put-down method to the cry-it-out method, there’s a reason why the spectrum of sleep training methods is so expansive - not every method works for every child. So, we’ve created  resources to help break down the most popular, healthy sleep training methods. This time, we’re talking about the Ferber Method.

In This Article 

Introduction

What is the Ferber Sleep Training Method?

How Does the Ferber Sleep Training Method Work?

Common Questions From New Parents 


Richard Ferber is a Pediatrician, founder of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston’s Children's Hospital, and the creator of the Ferber Method. He also published a book on children’s sleep called Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems in the mid-1980’s. His namesake method of sleep training is considered to be one of the least gentle sleep training techniques - second only to the Cry-It-Out Method as the least gentle. 

The Ferber Method of sleep training is sometimes referred to as ferberizing, and it has an emphasis on encouraging self-soothing in your little one.  Ferber’s methodology says that as soon as your baby is developmentally ready, you can begin teaching them how to self-soothe at sleep times. Most data supports that sleep training of any kind should not begin until at least 6 months of age. 

As with all sleep training styles,  it’s not the right fit for everyone. There are many sleep training methods that can help your baby develop good sleep habits. So, don’t feel tied to just one type of training. If one training method isn’t the right fit, try another!

Pro-Tip:

Used in conjunction with baby sleep training, proper sleepwear can ease your baby’s journey to longer, more restful nights of sleep. Nested Bean’s lightly weighted sleepwear soothes like a parent's touch and comes in a range of product types and sizes to grow with your baby! Zen Sleepwear is a recommended addition to sleep training by leading Sleep Consultants.

What is the Ferber Sleep Training Method?

The Ferber Method, sometimes called graduated extinction, is when you put your baby to sleep awake and then periodically go to check on them after a predetermined amount of time regardless of how much they fuss. 

These check-ins can include comforting your little one through physical touch - putting your hand on their chest, stroking their head, etc. - but it is not advised to pick them up out of their sleep space, according to this methodology. The period of time between check-ins begins to get longer over time.

The goal of this sleep training technique is to have your baby eventually learn to calm themselves and fall asleep on their own.

How Does the Ferber Sleep Training Method Work?

As we said from the outset, this is considered one of the less gentle sleep training methods and is structured to encourage babies to self-soothe. It encourages parents to give their infants time to fuss and realize that it won’t result in being comforted immediately. 

Step #1:

The founder of this method, Richard Ferber, recommends establishing a consistent, soothing bedtime routine for your baby to kick off the sleep training process.

Step #2:

After you’ve taken your little one through all the steps of their nightly routine, it’s time to put them in their crib or sleep space. And remember, a crucial part of this method is to make sure that you are putting your baby down while they are still awake. 

Step #3:

Once baby is safely in their crib, you leave the room. If your baby cries, wait for a specific amount of time before going back into their room to comfort them. This amount of time gradually increases night-after-night.

For the first night it is recommended that you wait 3 minutes before you go back into the nursery to console your baby if they are crying. Then you leave the room for five minutes, and if your baby is still fussing after that you can go back in and console them again. All subsequent visits should be after a 10 minute waiting period or until your baby falls asleep. 

Step #4:

The periods of time between visits slowly increases night-after-night. For the complete list of how many minutes to wait before visiting your little one each night and the nightly progressions, reference “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems,” by Richard Ferber, M.D.

Step #5:

After your little one has fallen fully asleep, each time they wake in the middle of the night the process starts from the beginning. So, if your baby wakes up at 3am crying after having been asleep for hours it is recommended that you start from the 3 minute wait period and work your way back up to 10 minutes between visits until your baby falls back asleep.

Step #6:

Modify to fit your family! There are several ways to adjust this sleep training technique to work more seamlessly with your family’s routines and preferences. 

  • Adjust the times between visits!

Don’t hesitate to adjust the waiting times to fit where you and your baby feel more 

comfortable. If you’d rather start with 2 minutes between visits, do that!

  • Room share options

This model is based on the premise that your infant has their own nursery. But, even if they sleep in a bassinet in your room this method is still a viable option! Simply try not to engage with baby during the time between visits, and once the predetermined time is up you can talk to them from your area in the room or get up to physically comfort them.

  • Everyone’s different

Every sleep training method can be adjusted to fit your family. Feel free to make edits to the Ferber Method that are unique to your family  too!

 

Common questions from new parents

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Sleep Training Guide: How to sleep train & when to start sleep training

Sleep Training Q +A with Taking Cara Babies

Catherine Iannucci

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