The Ferber Method
Please read The Ferber Method (part one) before attempting this technique. As I discussed, this method should only be considered if your baby is healthy, well-fed and at least six months old. Before starting this technique you have to be sure your baby is only crying because he wants something rather than that he actually he needs something. If you suspect it might be the latter obviously give him everything he needs (a change, a feed etc). Please note, I am not advocating the Ferber Method, I am simply letting you know the best way to go about it if you decide you want to give it a try.
The first step is to really get going with your baby’s consistent pre-bed routine. Remember, babies love predictability and the first step towards an uninterrupted night’s sleep is to follow the same night-time ritual before putting baby down to sleep. Components of this routine may include a feed, a story, a bath, a lullaby etc. Baby will be calmer if he is accustomed to the process that immediately precedes being placed in a cot ready to sleep. Having Grandad energetically jiggling him about before bed might raise a few smiles at the time but it is likely to lead to a poor night’s sleep (for both of them!)
The Ferber Method step two
Step two is as simple as it is vital: Put your baby to sleep in his cot while he is still awake. Kiss him goodnight and leave the room.
Step three: When baby starts to cry do not rush in immediately. On your first night with the ferber method wait around 5-10 minutes before going in. This will feel like an eternity on your first night ( a good tip is to time yourself with a watch, otherwise you will rush in after 30 seconds having convinced yourself it’s time!). When you do go in do not pick baby up or rock or feed him. If you do this you will only reinforce baby’s mindset that crying results in food and attention- two of the biggest rewards going. Instead, comfort him gently by talking softly and if necessary, laying a comforting hand on him. Leave the room after two minutes even if he continues to cry. Someone other than mum might have better luck at this because the scent of breast milk may trigger the hunger response.
The final step is to gradually increase the length of time that you take to attend to baby’s cries and continue this increase in nightly increments. The time you take to respond should be based on how comfortable you feel and how many days you have been using the technique. After around 1-2 weeks Ferber claims that most babies will have learned that crying in the night gets nothing but a quick check-up and will decide it’s not worth their effort! To be honest I know many parents who swear by this technique and are now happily enjoying an uninterrupted night’s sleep once more. So in summary, it has a high success rate but you’ve got to be prepared for a week of hell before you start. Please don’t underestimate how hard it will be to keep from rushing in to respond to your baby’s cries. Also you should be aware that many experts still claim it comes with a risk of emotional and psychological damage even if the baby is healthy and over six months old.