The Ferber Method
Probably the most popular getting-baby-to-sleep technique, the Ferber Method is based on the idea that babies make associations with falling asleep. So if you routinely rock your child until he falls asleep or allow him to fall asleep while breastfeeding, he’ll come to rely on these things in order to go to sleep. The trick is to teach him to learn to fall asleep by himself in his crib. Here’s how it works:
- Put your baby in his crib and say “good night”, then leave the room.
- If he starts to cry, let him—for about 5 minutes. Then go into the room, comfort him briefly without picking him up, and leave.
- If he cries again, wait 10 minutes before going in, then 15 minutes, until he falls asleep. The idea is to reassure your baby that you are still there and to see if he’s okay.
- Every time he wakes in the night repeat the ritual, with the same timed intervals used after his bedtime.
- Each subsequent night add an additional 5 minutes to the first interval. For example, the second night, start by waiting 10 minutes before going in, then 15 on the third night, etc.
- Experts say it will take three to seven days for your baby to associate being in his crib with falling asleep.
- If you are the kind of parent that can’t leave your baby crying for more than a minute, then this method may be too much for you.
This technique is based on altering a baby’s sleep habits by waking him at specific times. Here’s how it works:
- For one week, keep track of the times your baby wakes up at each night.
- Then, try to beat him to the punch. If he wakes at 12 and 4 AM, go in and wake him at 11:45 and 3:45 AM and do whatever you normally do.
- Day by day, extend the waking times in 15-minute increments—back to 12 and 4 AM, then to 12:15 and 4:15 AM, and so on. Your baby should stop waking on his own and instead wait for you, who have become his new alarm clock.
- Eventually, you phase out the waking altogether and find that your baby is sleeping through the night!
- This method is great for babies that tend to have predictable waking times during the night.
- As parents you will feel more in control, since you are in charge of when your baby wakes up.
- You may have a hard time bringing yourself to wake your baby (especially when he looks so cute sleeping!).
- The method can take a while – up to three or four weeks.
- Some experts argue that a baby’s waking schedule is too varied for this method to be effective.
The most important thing is to discover a nighttime parenting style that works for your family. Once you find it, it’s essential to stick with it! At the same time, be prepared to change your nighttime style as your little one grows. The key is to always be open to new approaches and to follow your intuition; you will eventually have a nighttime style that works you and your baby!