The Ferber Method is a sleep training system for infants created by Dr Robert Ferber, which proposes the idea of allowing an infant to soothe itself to sleep after a crying bout.
This is popularly known as “Cry it out” among parents who have adopted and used this method on their children.
It’s impossible to find a baby who sleeps 10 hours straight. They always wake up at intervals to either be changed, fed or given comfort. Most babies reject sleeping in cots because they would rather sleep in their parents’ arms, which can be exhausting especially for new parents. And this is why the Ferber method is encouraged.
In his book titled, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, Dr Ferber elaborated on Ferberization and give details of how it may be employed. He strongly advised against using the Ferber method on infants below 4 months of age.
How long can my baby be left alone?
Dr Ferber suggests the following “alone-time” durations:
- 1st Night: Leave your baby alone for 3 minutes the first time. Step it up to 5 minutes the second time then 10 minutes for subsequent times.
- 2nd Night: Leave your baby for 5 minutes. Crank it up 10 minutes and allow 15 minutes for the subsequent times.
- Try to make the “alone-time” duration a bit longer each night.
- You don’t have to follow this time schedule strictly. Feel free pick time durations you are more comfortable with.
Bear in mind that you may have to choose a particular lullaby or chain of words, which could act as a sleep trigger for your baby. Also have a solid plan to start and complete the training keeping in mind that you may face some resistance from your baby and maybe even your partner or a family member.
Also take note that you will have to sacrifice a lot of sleep during the training period as you will be constantly checking up on your baby at designated intervals. Some babies pick up training faster than others so take your baby’s temperament into consideration as well. Some babies require as little as 3 days to adjust while other babies need as much as 3 weeks to fully adjust to putting themselves to sleep.
For more information on the ferber method, here’s a helpful infographic to help you get started.