Controlled Crying For Naps – Cosleeping

We have covered Controlled Crying (also known as The Ferber Method) in some detail in previous posts.  Please see However, following a recent comment on the site I thought an extra post was needed to discuss how nap times and co-sleeping fit in with the technique.

 

In terms of nap-times, you should use a similar procedure as you do during the night .  As Zoe rightly pointed out, if you didn’t have consistency between the daytime and nightime sleeps you would confuse your baby by sending him ‘mixed messages.’

 

However, many parents have reported problems using the controlled crying method at naptimes so I now recommend a less-harsh adaptation for nap times.  It has been suggested that CC is less effective for naps because babies use a different part of the brain for naps when compared with night time sleep. Make sure you have black-out blinds for his room as these really help. Also, the world has a lot more things going on during the day and much more noise so you may want to consider leaving a lullaby cd on at a low volume to block out these audible distractions.

 

Naps can be difficult to sort out and may take a couple of weeks to get right. The first nap of the day is the place where you want to begin because this is the easiest one to tackle. Your aim is obviously going to be to get him down in his cot for that nap. Allocate a time-frame of one hour for the nap and use the technique below until the hour is up. If baby fails to sleep within that time, get him up and get him to sleep another way (car,pram etc.) and then try again the following day. Repeat the process until he’s settling for that nap, then move on to another nap.

 

Here is the technique to try for parents who have used CC at night time but are struggling with nap time. The two techniques are consistent so using one in the day and one at night won’t confuse your baby and cause problems at night.
The nap time technique (this is not easy btw but it does work):

 

1. Have a short pre-bed routine and place baby in the cot awake. If he cries, try and comfort with words and gentle head stroking. If he doesn’t stop crying, pick him up and say, “shush, shush” and softly pat his back. As soon as he stops crying, put him down straight away (you are not rocking him to sleep you are still attempting to get him to fall asleep in the cot). If he is crying and arching his back, put him down immediately.

 

2. Even if he cries the second you begin to lower him into the cot, make sure you still put him down all the way to the mattress before you pick him up again. Repeat this procedure correctly so that you are picking him up when he cries and putting him down immediately when he stops. After a time he should begin to calm down and cry less. If you do get him to the stage where is in the cot and is quiet, stay with him with a hand laid on his body and carry on the reassuring talk in a very soft voice. Only leave the room when you are sure he’s in a deep sleep.

 

3. After 20 minutes of this, put him in the cot and leave the room for 10 minutes. If he is still crying, repeat the ‘picking up and lowering down’ method for another 20 minutes and leave for 10.

 

 

 

 

As for cosleeping, Controlled Crying (also known as the Ferber Method) relies on your baby sleeping in a cot in his own room.  Obviously, this is an either/or situation.  If you are happy with your co-sleeping arrangement then the Ferber method is not for you.  In Zoe’s comment she asked whether she could incorporate the Ferber method into her current co-sleeping arrangement by leaving the room each time her baby wakes up crying.  I personally don’t think this would work and I strongly recommend it shouldn’t even be attempted.  The crucial point of CC is to teach babies to soothe themselves to sleep.  This means them waking up alone and being able to comfort themselves back to sleep without screaming out for mum or dad.  If you attempted controlled crying whilst co-sleeping your baby would not be waking up alone and the first thing he would see was his mum leaving the room.  Furthermore, when it came to making the transition to his own room it would probably mean starting again from square one.

 

When you decide it is the right time to make the transition to the crib then I would advise you leave the Ferber Method well alone until your baby gets used the change.  Moving surroundings will be a stressful enough time without adding to the trouble.  I will write a separate post soon to discuss how you can make the transition as easy as possible for both of you.  Just off the top of my head, I like the idea of having a crib in the same room at first and getting baby used to sleeping in there.  You could then gradually move this further away from your bed before you make the jump to a different room.  I also think it would be wise to start using the crib for nap times and moving this into baby’s own room.  This will make the night-time change a little more familiar and easier to deal with.  Personally,  I think it needs to be a very gradual change to minimise the distress.  Once your baby has got used to this arrangement, if needed, you could start implementing the Ferber technique.

 

If your baby is at least six months old and is still waking up to feed through the night, you should consider reducing the night-time feeds.  This is especially crucial if you are a cosleeper who wants to move your baby to his own crib because if  he is really hungry at night he would wake up and scream his head off if he suddenly found himself alone in a room with no mum or food at his disposal! The technique is called calorie shifting and works by increasing the day feeds to compensate for the night. Full details are in this post: Reducing Night-Time Feeds

 

Here is the other relevant post:

 

From Bed Sharing (Co sleeping) to Cot- Making the Transition

Comments (16)

Ruby
December 30, 2008 - 1:17 pm /

You might be interested in the writing of Dr. Marc Weissbluth. From his research he believes that daytime sleep and nighttime sleep are organised by different parts of the brain so having different daytime and nighttime soothing routines does not matter as different parts of the brain are learning.

He also believes that night sleep organises before day sleep. My baby followed this pattern. She is 4 months and can settle herself back to sleep at night after her feeds – no crying though she does sometimes burble away to her cot animals – who knows what secrets she is telling them. In the day she cannot soothe herself yet.

January 5, 2009 - 12:05 pm /

Hi,

4 months and she can settle herself back to sleep after her feeds- now that’s impressive!

I hope you decide to share your experiences with this technique as I’m sure there will be many new parents reading your comment with envious (and tired) eyes!

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April 15, 2009 - 1:39 pm /

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Lacey
April 23, 2009 - 5:39 pm /

This must be the main reason that the ferber method isnt working for me! We are living with my husbands parents and the ONLY option for our sleep arrangement is with the baby in the crib in our room. I have tried letting her cry SO many times I cant even count anymore! Sometimes I think it is beginning to work but then the next night she is back to an hour + of crying. Do you have any suggestions for someone in my situation where there is no other sleeping option? She is waking up every hour at night and I cant take it anymore.

April 24, 2009 - 4:30 pm /

Hi Lacey

If she is waking every hour and crying for such long periods then I recommend you see your paediatrician about this just to be on the safe side.

You should stop the Ferber immediately because it is not meant for babies sharing a room. It is probable that she is going through some developmental milestones that are causing the disruption in sleep but as I say, go and see your doctor just to be sure.

This blog is for providing general, impartial information and without knowing the ins and outs of your situation we can’t provide the level of specific information you require.

Mandy
August 11, 2009 - 9:54 pm /

My baby sleeps with us in our bedroom, but he has a crib. He wakes very frequently almost every hour and cries both at night & day time sleep. We know he just wants attention because he is not interested in feeding. Can you suggest any tips to make him sleep longer, since as you mentioned Ferber’s method may not work for us.

January 7, 2010 - 9:39 am /

This post has just been updated in view of the comments received. It should now answer all of your questions!

Ruth
January 14, 2010 - 7:07 am /

Hi all

I have tried CC tonight for the first time, in order to wean my daughter off her dummy. She is 6.5 months and I have had her on GF since she was 6 weeks. She hasn’t needed feeding in the night since she was 3 months but has always been a very sucky baby, waking in the night for her dummy, so I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since she was born!

She settled within 20 minutes at bedtime (wow!) although she has been up during the night from 3.30am until about 5.30am. She had “quiet periods” during this time of 10 minutes or so. I assumed when she started crying again the next time I should pick up where I left off with how long I leave her crying?

Actually it’s not been as hard as I thought. I put the monitor on mute and check the time regularly whilst telling myself this is for her own benefit! The main thing that has stopped me picking her up to comfort her or give her her dummy is that all her crying would have been for nothing, and I’m not prepared to let her go through this training more than once!

I do have a question around teethers. She is teething at the moment (although none have cut). I know it might seem like a strange time to remove the dummy and try CC but she has been in pain the last few days and bit through her teether (!), so I’ve had to give her one dose of nurofen at bedtimes for the last couple of nights. In this way I thought – at least I know she’s not in pain tonight, good time to start CC! But I was wondering about whether I should give her teethers during the day? Will this send mixed messages if I allow her to have them during the day but not for her naps or at bedtime? I don’t want her to have them at sleep times as I think I would end up having the same problems with them as I do the dummy.

I have a teething ring and other Tommee Tippee gel teethers, which she can actually put into her mouth and bite (so quite similar to a dummy)?!

Any help welcome and great website by the way!

January 14, 2010 - 9:56 am /

Hi

It sounds like you are very committed to this and I can tell that you will see it through to the end because your determination is coming from the best of all places- knowing that what you are doing is for the purpose of ultimately helping your baby. Well done and keep it up!

To answer your questions:

You are right about continuing the CC from where you left off after very short gaps in the crying.

I think you are also right to ditch the dummy because babies can become very dependent on them and CC is the right way to go to kick the habit. I would use Calpol at night when she’s in pain because of teething and keep the teethers just for the day.

You won’t be sending her mixed messages if you let her have the teethers during the day without letting her have them for naps or night time sleep. These can really help, especially the ones you can put in the fridge. If you want to minimise the risk of the teethers becoming a habit, you could vary what you give her during the day to ease the pain. Here are some possible substitutes (just pick the ones that are applicable to your situation):

•Massage the baby’s gums with a clean finger or a soft/baby toothbrush.

•Allow baby to chew on pieces of raw fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, or unsweetened rusks or teething biscuits.

•Lots of cool, sugar-free drinks, especially if your baby is dribbling excessively. Cool, plain water is best.

•Sugar-free teething gels and powders (be sure to follow the dosage instructions).

•Sugar-free painkilling medicine for babies, such as liquid infant paracetamol or ibuprofen (be sure to follow the dosage instructions).

Ruth
January 14, 2010 - 12:09 pm /

Thanks for your help!

This morning I wasn’t sure how to treat her morning nap, I left her to cry but she only slept for 40 minutes in the end. I then left her for 25 minutes after she woke up (increased from 20 minute intervals) but she didn’t settle down again so I got her up. It was 1.5 hours from when she originally went down (her usual morning nap amount of time, although she was up half the night and awake earlier than usual, so I put her down earlier). I am worried that I have now “rewarded” her crying? How should nap times be treated if they only sleep for part of the nap (especially with waking after 40 minutes, which I know is part of a baby’s sleep cycle)?

Thanks again for the advice 🙂

Ruth
January 15, 2010 - 3:56 pm /

Just to update you, my daughter slept for 12 hours last night, settling after 10 minutes. A miracle!

Thank you for your support, since another “Pro CC” forum has made me feel very guilty about my choice, telling me she is too young and that I am leaving her for too long. This however came from a user whose 13 month old daughter still wakes for a 2am feed! That poor girl obviously isn’t getting enough food in the day or is waking for a feed out of habit (and so not getting enough sleep)!

erica
January 19, 2010 - 7:37 pm /

Is it best to ferberize both naps and nighttime simultaneously? My daughter is nearly 4 months in a few days. She nurses at night and then I put her to bed asleep. She sleeps for an average of 10 hours for at least a month now. No waking. She does not nap well. We started the Ferber method for her afternoon nap. Is it too much to do two naps and nighttime in the same day? Is it ok to leave her nighttime routine as is for a while since it is working?

January 27, 2010 - 4:54 pm /

Hi Ruth, I’m so pleased to hear that you have enjoyed some success and I hope things are continuing to go well. There will surely be occasions when you think that suddenly something’s gone wrong again but if that happens just follow the same procedure and things should settle down once more.

Hi Erica, I’m sorry but we advise against controlled crying until the baby is six months old. You are of course free to decide what’s best for your own baby but please read our other posts on CC to ensure you are making an informed decision. Also, CC does not work well for naps but the adaptation of the technique that we recommend in the post above works well.

Many thanks

Jade
April 27, 2011 - 7:53 pm /

Hi,

I am really struggling at the moment with daytime naps, particularly after lunch.

My son, who is nearly 7 months, sleeps through at night until 5.30. He then cries for around two minutes and sleeps until 6.45 (I put him to bed at 6.30)

He is much better at settling for the morning nap and takes around 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. However, for the afternoon nap, he can cry for sometimes 45 minutes. I put him down awake but he is such a wriggler. Despite being in a sleeping bag and a sheet over his lower part of his body, he often wriggles up the cot when crying and gets stuck. Is it common to struggle with this nap? I have been doing the CC method for naps for around two weeks and it seems to be getting worse not better.

The problem has really started since I dropped his lunchtime breast feed (before he went down for the nap).

I hope you can help!

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