The Ferber Method (Part Two)

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.

 

Click here to read a night by night account of Lainy’s experience with the Ferber Method

Comments (45)

Lainy
August 19, 2008 - 10:25 am /

I’m about to embark on this method from tonight. Little one already has a great bedtime routine, however by around 12.30 she’ll wake up and nothing has worked, even if we give her milk she will still stay awake. So i’m confident that its just our attention that she is after. She is 10 months now and a week to 2 weeks of hell for a even at least one nights full sleep will be worth it. One thing I have been told is if a baby stops crying when you pick them up then they’ve had you on. Just hope in the early hours of the morning when i’m half asleep i can remember what to do lol.

August 19, 2008 - 10:50 am /

Hi Lainy

This sounds like a very typical case and I think it is well worth trying the technique given your situation.

If you think of it from the child’s point of view, she has learned that when she wakes up in the night, all she needs to do is cry out and within seconds her favourite person and her favourite meal will come rushing through the door! This is not an arrangement she will give up easily. However, if you follow the technique and remain strong, she will soon break the association and she will be very likely to start sleeping through.

When you do go in, you should try not to pick her up or the technique will not work. I know this will be difficult but by picking her up you will only reinforce the association of crying = quality attention. Try to comfort her back to sleep by talking softly and laying a soothing hand on her. Remember to leave the room after two minutes, regardless of whether the crying has stopped or not. The point of the Ferber Method is to allow babies to learn to comfort themselves back to sleep. When they learn how to do this, they will be ready to sleep through the night.

In terms of remembering what to do, it might be worthwhile to make a list of bullet points, to remind you of the crucial components of this technique. Go over them in your head prior to bedtime and try and stick to them. Prepare yourself mentally for what’s ahead, it won’t be easy but it will be well worth it if you can get her to sleep through. You must be absolutely exhausted so I wish you all the best of luck and I’d love to hear how you’ve got on with the Ferber technique.

zoe
August 25, 2008 - 7:58 pm /

Hi I was wondering-what happens at nap time?I think I am confident enough to try the technique but I don’t want to give my baby mixed messages.Also,my baby is in the same room as me,if she wakes in the night,do I leave the room?I feel to move her into her room is just too much at all at once.She sleeps in my bed but the cot is up against the bed to try and make it familiar,and she will lie down in it and has slept in there.I just don’t want to undertake too much at once,and really make it any tougher than it has to be on her.
Thanks, zoe

August 28, 2008 - 12:07 pm /

Hi Zoe, thanks for your comment. i actually think the points you raised warranted their own post so I have written it here: The Ferber Mthod-Naptimes & Cosleeping

Nicola
December 20, 2008 - 10:08 pm /

Hi,

I want to use this technique to get my baby to sleep longer in the night. She is 7 and a half months but wakes and suckles every couple of hours. My query is, I want to continue to give her a feed the first time she wakes as this is when I’m going to bed so it is convenient for me and allows me to change her nappy then as I don’t like leaving her in the same nappy all night. Is this OK or will it mess up the program?

Thanks,
Nicola

January 5, 2009 - 11:03 am /

Hi Nicola

I understand your desire to give her a feed and a nappy change the first time she wakes up and to try and use the Ferber Technique for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, she will be unlikely to realise that her first crying out is the only one that produces a positive outcome.

Instead, you’ll be much more likely to get into a partial reinforcement situation where she’ll think that sometimes crying is instantly successful and sometimes it takes much longer (if you try to use the Ferber Method for the rest of the night). This will be confusing for her and she is likely to keep protesting throughout the night.

The Ferber Method is an ‘all or nothing’ technique. I know many parents have attempted to modify it to reduce its impact on their child and on themselves. Although I’ve heard one or two have had some success with this, the vast majority only make things worse so I would suggest that if you don’t want to commit to the technique 100% then you should try the less-radical alternatives to begin with.

I hope you had a wonderful first Christmas together and I wish you all the best for 2009. Please keep us updated with any progress you make.

sara
January 29, 2009 - 7:58 pm /

Hi,

I have been reading your posts on the Ferber method and have found them extremely helpful.

We have been doing the Ferber method for 2 weeks now with our 8 month old. The night time and naptime routine are working pretty good. The only problem is that he still wakes up in the middle of the night and I dont know what to do. When I go in and console him it makes him more upset. Should I just let him cry in the night without going in?

February 2, 2009 - 10:01 am /

Hi Sara,

How long do you wait before going in to attend to this night-waking? If he is healthy and you’re sure this night-waking is due to a want rather than a need, you should set an initial delay period before responding to his cries, say 15 mins. When you do go in, speak softly to comfort him but don’t pick him up! After 2 mins,leave the room and if he continues to cry, don’t go in again for 20 mins. If there’s a 3rd time, wait 25 mins before going in and then keep this as a maximum for the night. Ferber says to increase these initial and subsequent response times by 5 minutes each night. So using the example times above, you’d wait 20 mins initially on the following night, then 25, then hold on 30 for the night. (Note to other visitors: if you are starting this technique for the first time, you want to start with only a 5 minute delay initially).

If you follow this pattern, he should learn to comfort himself back to sleep and give up this night-waking.

Thank for your comment, please keep us updated!

Danny
March 4, 2009 - 10:24 pm /

I found this site very helpful thank you very much, I too seem to be having issues with Night-Waking and I realize I may not be doing the correct thing. Our baby is soley breast fed and wakes up in the middle of the night to feed, although the feeding usually puts her right back to sleep withing a few mins. Should we wait to console her and not pick her up? I’m still a little confused as to when its ok to pick her up to feed her.

Thanks for your help.

Jenn
March 23, 2009 - 9:34 pm /

Hi,

My son is 8 and a half months old. He sleeps through the night with no problems but he is a terrible napper in the daytime! He is clearly tired during the day and I have a strict routine that I follow both before naps and bedtime. When I put him in his crib for his nap he immediately sits or stands and cries because I have left him. We have tried several methods and I am currently trying CC but he will cry for over an hour without sleeping. He has fallen asleep a few times but only for very short periods of time (20 mins). He is on a schedule that involves a nap around 9:30 and then again around 1 but it is flexible around his cues. He has never been a good napper and has only ever slept 30-45 mins at a nap. He sleeps well at night – 8pm – 7:30am. I can tell he is tired during the day and needs a nap but I don’t know what to do to get him to fall asleep and stay asleep on his own!! Should he be crying for over an hour?? It has been three days with no real headway. He is also very attached to me. He cries more when it is me that lays him down compared to my husband. Any help or thoughts would be much appreciated!!

Thanks!

Jasmin Jutz
March 25, 2009 - 10:49 am /

A week ago we started controlled crying with our 7 and a half month old girl. She had been sleeping with us since birth and had recently started to wake up completely at midnight after which she screamed until she was given both the breast and then walked around till she slept. It was heart-breaking for me to move her to her own bed, but it was also getting dangerous to have her with us as she’s become so mobile.

The first night was difficult but nowhere near as hard as I’d thought it would be. We’ve had a sleep routine in place for quite a while – so we went through that but instead of letting her fall asleep on my breast as usual, I lay her down in the cot awake. She cried for 13 minutes the first time and I checked her every five minutes, and then she slept for a half hour. She then woke and cried for 17 minutes during which I checked her three times. The rest of the night she woke every two hours but cried only for 2-3 minutes before sleeping again by herself – so although I was standing outside the door I didn’t have a chance to go in and check her! My partner and I were over the moon and the next five days went even better with her falling asleep almost immediately and waking only once or twice for 2-3 minutes. Then two days ago we had a bit of an incident. I was worried she seemed to be falling ill and when she woke at 2am I went in to check on her. Her cries seemed more shrill (maybe my imagination) and I made the error of picking her up to make sure she was okay. She immediately quietened and went to sleep on my shoulder. I laid her down 5 minutes later and the night passed without further incident. Then – last night she slept from 7.45pm to 1am – after which she was up and screaming every 15-20 minutes, falling asleep for 10-15 minutes and then screaming again. It was an absolute nightmare. We went in to pat her and whisper comforting words and she’d quieten and fall asleep almost immediately – only to wake up again 10 minutes later. Today we are all completely shattered and dreading the next night. What should we do? Do we have to start the whle process anew (checking every 5 minutes and then increasing, or should we be leaving it for a torturous 20 minutes?). And how do we cope with daytime naps? Should they be longer to allow her some much needed rest? Any advice would be appreciated.

March 25, 2009 - 8:17 pm /

Hi Danny, thank you for your comment. You didn’t mention how old your baby was. If he or she is at least six months old and is putting on weight well and is in good health, you can consider starting the Ferber Technique. The point of this technique is to help baby sleep through the night and therefore it involves stopping the nighttime breastfeeding. Your baby will take in more calories during the day to compensate.
If you are concerned that your baby still needs the nightime feeds then you may want to read the post on Reducing Night-Time Feeds prior to attempting the Ferber Method because the act of going in and picking baby up and breastfeeding will completely disrupt the method.

March 25, 2009 - 9:55 pm /

Hi Jenn, I would suggest that you start making the daytime naps more regimented because the predictability may help him learn the routine more easily. If possible, keep the naps at 9.30 and 1 and try and stick to those same times every day. Half an hour before naptime, begin winding down his activities, reducing as many of the distractions as possible. Stick with your strict pre-bed routine and make sure you are following all the instructions for CC.
Also keep the room dark, try playing lullabies or white noise during the nap to prevent outside noise from distracting him, dress him in comfortable clothes, & be sure that discomfort (teething, allergies, etc.) isn’t what is preventing sleep.

Some babies do take a lot longer to learn how to comfort themselves to sleep at naptimes- it’s far more common than you would think- it’s just sod’s law that every other parent you know will eagerly boast how their baby has no problem sleeping through the day! Every baby is different but bare with it because 3 days in is still early for the effects of CC to begin to show.

Good luck!

March 25, 2009 - 10:26 pm /

Hi Jasmin. It sounds like it was the right time to move her into the cot so congratulations for starting to instigate the change. I am also impressed by the way she took to it in the first week- I usually advise a more gradual transition from cosleeping to cot before attempting the Ferber but if it worked well for you this way then you should be able to replicate and improve the results once more.

You did the right thing by checking on her so please don’t be at all hard on yourself- if you are in any doubt, safety always comes first and you need to make completely sure that she is healthy before continuing with the technique. Although it caused a massive disruption to your sleep it was incomparably better than risking leaving her crying with a genuine need rather than a want.

So let’s think about a solution. Unfortunately, I don’t have any qualitative or quantitative reports at my immediate disposal regarding this. However, if I was you, I’d first make sure she is healthy and not in need of anything, then I’d be inclined to start over with the technique. I know it will feel like wasting the week’s worth of work but try not to think of it like that- instead think of that week as a trial run and now’s the time to see it through to completion. I just think diving straight back in at 20 minutes will be too severe for her given the circumstances and she is likely to be confused and worried about what’s going on. By starting again and building gradually, the new mindset will solidify and hopefully she will get the hang of it quickly. If you continue to have major problems after a week or so, you should write back and we’ll discuss what to do instead- possibly some variant of the Ferber that is not so challenging given that she went from cosleeping to cot and CC in a short space of time.

Regarding naps, if possible, I wouldn’t disrupt your routine any more by changing anything at this stage. If she seems very tired during the day then by all means extend the naptimes to compensate but make sure you leave plenty of time for her to become tired again before the nighttime otherwise it will only exacerbate the situation.

I wish you all the best for the coming nights ahead.

charlie
April 2, 2009 - 11:44 pm /

hi. i have read this post with much interest.
Leo is now 6 months old and is breastfed.
our night goes like this food (only inpast week) at 5:30 and then quiet play. we go up and he has a bath at 6:30. he gets dried and in his jammies and has a breastfeed by 7. he then has a story and goes into his cot in his room awake and goes to sleep himself.
he then wakes up around 11pm and has a feed but only for about 4 – 5 min and goes straight back to sleep as long as he come into our bed. he will then spend the rest of the night in with us and will wake up several time in the night and feed.
i want to have him sleeping in his own room all night and without the night feeds as i think they are a want rather than a need.
my question is should i go straight into the ferber method as he is used to spending part of the night in his own room or should i do it more gradual, and if so waht would your advise be?
thanks

Francesca
April 4, 2009 - 12:21 am /

Hi, I’m on my 3rd day of the method and the night crying has been reduced to 1hr now, originally almost 2hrs. But the naptimes are not working. She cries for over 3hrs and then its time for next feeding so I need to pick her up and we end up unsuccessful. Is crying for 3hrs straight unhealthy? Even at 3hrs, it seems like she still had more energy to go for who knows how long. How can I get her to nap in the daytime? She is 4mths old.

Lacey
April 9, 2009 - 12:24 am /

I have used the ferber method 3 times with my 6 month old child. The reason I have used it this many times is because each time my husband ends up ruining it. After successfully getting your child to sleep better with the ferber method are they supposed to still wake up at times in the night and fuss for 5-10 minutes. This bothered my husband and he proceeded to give her her binky or pick her up and by the next night she was back to square one. She will not sleep now when we rock her, pick her up, give her her binky, feed her. She will only sleep after fussing for around 10 minutes. It wakes us up in the night and is difficult to get back to sleep. Am I doing something wrong or is my daughters waking and fussing randomly after a good night normal?

April 15, 2009 - 3:13 pm /

Hi Charlie

Our policy is to advise against any form of controlled crying with babies younger than 6 months. You mentioned that yours is at 6 months now so if you think he is healthy and putting on weight well and that you’re confident that the night-wakings are due to wants rather than needs, it might be a viable solution. However, if it were me I would take it more gradually. I do think it is wise that you start setting good sleeping habits now. The longer you continue the arrangement of swapping him over to your bed, the harder it will be to break out of. You should start trying to teach him to spend the whole night in his own room asap. However, I would continue the night feeds until he has adjusted to the new sleeping arrangement. Otherwise he will probably scream the house down. If he is already comforting himself to sleep then it should not be too much of a jump for him to continue to do this when he wakes in the night. You might find he starts to sleep for longer periods naturally. If however, he has trouble learning to do this and he is not readily giving up the current arrangement then I would personally consider starting Ferber. I usually consider it a last resort. Hope this helps!

April 15, 2009 - 3:28 pm /

Hi Francesca

We recommend not attempting Ferber for babies under the age of six months. Therefore, I can’t advise you unfortunately. Personally, I think if she is crying for such long periods, she really needs comforting and I’d certainly not be leaving her to cry it out alone at only four months.

April 15, 2009 - 3:43 pm /

Hi Lacey

Yes even babies that sleep really well can still fuss for 5-10 mins occasionally. Their sleep cycles rotate between periods of light and deep sleep and during light sleep, babies can easily wake up. Babies that sleep through the night have learned to comfort themselves to sleep when this happens and if left alone they can re-enter deep sleep swiftly.

Picking baby up etc. will completely awaken him or her and by the sounds of it, your baby may be a bit confused. Remember babies love routine and predictability and anything out of the ordinary usually leads to disruption in sleep. If you need to go back and implement the steps of Ferber to re-teach her how to comfort herself back to sleep then do it but make sure you’re both on board first otherwise she will have great difficulty in learning to sleep right through.

Lacey
April 19, 2009 - 12:24 am /

My husband thinks that our seven month old needs one nightly feed, and I do not. How long should I try to get her to sleep at night without feeding her (if I put her to bed at 7:30)?? I worry that she will be confused if I start feeding her at 3 every morning becuase she doesnt know how to tell time and for all she knows it could be midnight.

April 20, 2009 - 2:54 pm /

Hi Lacey,

By seven months, healthy babies don’t need the nightly feed because they can take in their necessary calories during the day. However, that doesn’t mean that she will be readily happy to give it up.

How long are the intervals between her daytime feeds? If they are more than 3 hours and she can comfort herself to sleep without feeding or rocking, you can start to phase out that night-time feed over a 1-2 week period. For bottle-fed babies, decrease the amount of formula by 1 ounce every 2 to 3 nights. For breast-fed babies, nurse on just one side and reduce the time by 2 minutes every 2 to 3 nights. By the end of 1 – 2 weeks she will no longer crave the feed and will be taking in more calories during the day to compensate.

How many naps does she have during the day and how long for?

lacey
April 21, 2009 - 3:53 am /

naps are a joke around here! She protested them at all today. But usually I can get two naps out of her one semi-morning for about an hour and another early afternoon about 45 min to an hour.

lacey
April 22, 2009 - 9:16 pm /

PS) does that mean my baby can go 7 to 7 without eating?

April 24, 2009 - 4:40 pm /

Yes, healthy babies of that age are capable of going the whole night without needing the nutrition but some take a lot longer than others to reach that stage.

You might want to consider giving her a top up feed as you go to bed. Parents of babies that struggle sleeping usually hate this idea of actually waking their baby! However, it has been shown to reduce the remainder of night-wakings on many occasions so might be worth a try.

p.s please read my response to your other comment in the post: Controlled Crying – Naptimes and Cosleeping

stephanie
May 12, 2009 - 11:36 am /

Hi, I have a six month old breastfed baby who was waking all night long until we started the ferber method. The first three nights were great, he cried for less each night and by the third night he was asleep before I got to the door and I did not see him again until eleven hours later. He fussed a bit at three in the morning but only for about two minutes then he went back to sleep. So here is the problem. Last night (night four) he only slept for an hour and then he was up for the next four hours crying every ten minutes. he would cry for two minutes, then sleep for about eight and then repeat the cycle. I finally decided it was not going to happen (sleep) and I picked him up around midnight. I thought he might settle since I had picked him up but he went right into a rage when I put him into his crib and did the same routine for the next hour so I brought him into my bed and nursed him. Was that wrong? What else could I have done? Will I be starting over at square one tonight? Oh and I should mention that I tried to put him back in his crib at four this morning and he freaked out for a half hour so I nursed him and brought him to bed with me again b/c I was so tired I couldn’t think. Help? What went wrong?

stephanie
May 13, 2009 - 11:00 am /

update from the last post: I started over again last night with high hopes. He fussed for about a half hour going down and then again for an hour at one this morning. When he finally went to sleep it was only until 442am. I got up and fed him and now he is playing. Should I have done the interval checkins until he fell asleep or is that close enough to his 6am wakeup to feed him. I should mention that he slept from 8-10am yesterday and from 1230 to 130 so when he went to bed last night at 700 he had been up since 130. I do not like getting up at 442

May 28, 2009 - 3:11 pm /

Hi Stephanie,

Many parents go through exactly the same thing: The technique is working fine until the night where all hope is lost! In this situation many parents do as you did and pick baby up or take him into their bed. The correct thing to do (for the success of the technique) is to plough on with the routine. Now I know this is much easier said than done but unfortunately, picking baby up, or taking him into your bed, only leads to confusion and subsequent sleeping problems. Sadly, you can’t pick up where you left off (no pun intended!) and often the only solution is to start over and accept that there will be a very tough week ahead. This is why I consider the Ferber Technique to be a last resort with sleeping problems.

The ferber technique can be very hard and the only way it can be successful is by sticking to it every night, even when it doesn’t seem to be working. It usually takes over a week of consistent routine for babies to adapt and understand that crying doesn’t equal reward. I think the problem was those initial three nights of bliss you experienced because once you had the tough night, you wondered what went wrong. If it had been as tough from day one, you might have recognised that the crying and sleepless nights are the norm when first starting the method.

At 4.42am, after a rough night, getting out of bed and sticking to the routine is probably the last thing you want to do, but yes, I’d try to carry on and attempt to salvage as much of that 80 minutes as possible.

I am sorry you are going through a rough time and I hope it doesn’t last for long.

Jaylene
June 2, 2009 - 6:48 pm /

My daughter is 5 months old and is wide awake between 2-4 am. I know that food is not the issue as she gets a dream feed at 11pm. Given that you don’t recommend the Ferber Method until she is 6 months old, what other methods can I use when she wakes in the middle of the night?

Farrah
June 24, 2009 - 11:09 am /

My 7.5 month old son has been Ferberized successfully, but only for the night. After his feed and bath routing, my husband or I (we take turns) in putting him in his bed, singing him a song and usually within 10 minutes, he’s out. He wakes up once a night (usually because he’s peed) and so we change him, I feed him and put him back down and he goes to sleep in a few minutes.

Nap times, however are really really tough. It seems like he’s more frustrated and anxious and even though he’s tired, he usually successfully sleeps only at the breast. I don’t have a routine as such for nap times and initially he was napping like clockwork at 10:30am and 2:30pm, now it’s varied.

I’m really hoping for some advice where I can get him to sleep independently for his naps as well.

kelsi
December 13, 2009 - 5:58 am /

I am having the same problem as Farrah. My son is 10 months old and is doing fairly well with nighttime. He wakes up about two or three times in the night but I never have to go in, he usually puts himself back to sleep. But at naptime it seems like he is scared of the crib and stands and crys for over two hours. By that time, naptime has come and gone. I have a routine, bottle and read books and then lay him in his crib and as soon as he sees it he screams. I’m just afraid he is going to get scared of the crib and we will be back at square one, even with the bedtime routine. How long do I let him cry at naptime? And why do they do this at naptime and not bedtime?

December 16, 2009 - 9:57 am /

Hi Kelsi

Many parents have reported problems with using the controlled crying method at naptimes so you are not alone.

It has been suggested that this is 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 he 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 like you 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.

Good luck, stick with it (he won’t get it straight away sadly) and let us know how it goes.

alissa
January 7, 2010 - 2:57 am /

i’m glad i found this blog! hopefully you can help. my baby is 8 months old and i’ve tried the controlled crying technique for her naps. It is working, in that she will go to sleep after about 7 minutes of crying, but what am I supposed to do when she wakes up after only 20 minutes? Do i start the technique again, wait 5 minutes then go in say shhh,leave, go in again after 10 minutes,and so on until she goes back to sleep? Also, i haven’t tried this cc at night yet, she is co sleeping with me but i want her in her crib. She wakes up every 3 hours, and if I do put her on my breast she eats likes she is really hungry, at least twice. So, if i start the technique for night time, how do I know she doesn’t need to eat, if she eats good twice a night now? i hope you can help, and thank you.

January 7, 2010 - 9:14 am /

Hi Alissa

CC is not as effective for naps as it is at night which is why I recommend a less-harsh adaptation of the technique for naps. You can read the details of the technique in my comment to Kelsei above. Try this for the naps and see if it helps. Set a time frame for the nap of one hour and if your baby wakes up after 20 minutes or at any point during this slot, repeat the process until the hour is up.

Read this post: From Bed Sharing (Co sleeping) to Cot- Making the Transition

Here I discuss the very difficult transition your baby has to make of moving from your bed to her own crib. I don’t recommend trying CC at the same time but there are a few things you can do to help make the transition easier.

Before you even attempt the transition, the first thing I think you have to do is work on reducing the night-time feeds because if your baby is really hungry at night she would wake up and scream her head off if she suddenly found herself alone in a room with no mum or food at her 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

I hope this helps!

alissa
January 7, 2010 - 7:50 pm /

thank you so much!!

rena
January 31, 2010 - 1:00 pm /

hi thanks so much for this website!
i have a question and i’m hoping you might have some advice for me. it relates to what happens when crying starts after about 10 hours of sleep.

here’s the background: my baby is 6 and a half months old. we’ve been doing the controlled crying technique for just under two weeks since she had always been nursed to sleep and was waking up multiple times during the night. it’s been working well – she has a very stable bedtime routine and goes into the cot in her own room awake at night. after the beginning few nights where she cried between 10 and 30 minutes, there have been a few nights with no noise after we leave the room and a few with just 10 minutes of off and on crying.

the issue, however, is what to do in the morning. we put her to sleep at 7:30pm and she pretty much always wakes up crying somewhere between 4:30am and 5:30am. at this point we tend to take her into our bed so she can nurse and she ALWAYS falls back to sleep and all three of us then sleep for another 2 hours or so.

we’ve tried the controlled crying if she wakes up closer to 4:30 and it has worked on occasion but if she starts up closer to 5:30 i feel that we should be glad she slept for 10 hours and just give her some food. yet still, it is clear that she is not finished sleeping since she always sleeps another two hours and therefore seems to need 12 hours of sleep at night.

would you advise that we stop bringing her in our bed for a feed and instead just keep up with the controlled crying until she learns to sleep through the whole 12 hours? we don’t want to send her mixed messages.

by the way – her naps during the day are somewhat irregular with usually at least a half hour nap in the morning and an hour or so nap in the afternoon – sometimes two hours. nursing to get her to nap is sometimes relied upon and we let her nap wherever we are at the time – on the couch or in the baby sling that we wear her in.

thanks so much for any advice you can offer!

February 15, 2010 - 12:46 pm /

Hi Rena

You are getting close but unfortunately you are likely to have problems with early waking as long as you continue giving her that feed. If you think she is waking purely out of habit then controlled crying should be used until it’s time to get her up for the day (the ‘average’ baby at six months requires 11 hours sleep at night). However, if you think she could be waking up because of hunger you should read the article: Reducing Night-Time Feeds as this will give you some advice about how to gradually phase-out that feed. She will increase the calories she takes in during the day to compensate and before too long, she won’t need to wake up for that feed.

If you’re having problems with naps you might want to try this article as well: Controlled Crying – Nap times although I would sort out the night-time first before trying to tackle the day.

I hope this helps!

clare
June 27, 2010 - 10:53 pm /

Hi
I have already had a baby but have a large gap between him and my baby girl, she is 9mths old and had slept thro the night from 2weeks of age. Teething started and since then she has woke for a comfort feed every hour or so during the night(her only symptom of teething). I cant seem to leave her to cry but had no probs doing so with my son. She is healthy and 17lbs in weight. Im keen to start the method but not sure if she (or maybe me) are ready? She is in her own cot but still in our room. When she cries out i feel my heart strings pull and grab her with us. Should i start the method??? Thanks

beth
August 12, 2010 - 6:41 pm /

Hi! I just started the ferber method 2 nights ago. I breastfeed my 4m onth old just before bedtime and he always falls asleep…i then burp him to get him in a wakeful state where is eyes are open when i lay him in his crib. He only cried for 5 minutes last night before falling asleep. The night before he fussed for 30 minutes, but never really CRIED. Is it okay to have him this drowsy beforing laying in the crib or should I do another activity after feeding him? By the way, we saw his pediatrician yesteday and she encourages this method- even at this age. he is 15 lbs 7oz. Thank you

iliana
March 25, 2012 - 11:38 am /

I did this before in the past and it worked I’m doing it once more because she got sick and threw off her bedtime and triggered her midnight waking. She s also 10 months old now. Is teething the reason why she s waking up at night? Also I did notice how big.of a difference going in and picking her up was she was more upset when I would comfort her and lay her back down. From now on I will only check on her. Also does being in the same bedroom (sleeping) make this a challenge ..does she know I’m in there? Can she smell me?

Stephanie
January 29, 2013 - 2:10 am /

We have twin boys that are 1 year old. We have a night routine, they drink a bottle of milk, and typically go down without a problem. They start bottles around 7:00. They sleep in the same room in different cribs. They usually sleep fine until 3-4:30 one of them is crying. The one fusses but the other one screams (somehow it doesn’t usually wake the other. Then we have been trying to let them cry it out for about a week now and they are doing better about going back to sleep but it may be for 1/2 an hour to 5:30 ish. I would like for them to sleep through till at least 6 before they wake but doesn’t happen. I of course am up at their first waking and never truly go back to sleep. I am frustrated bc I don’t know why they are waking nor what to do to stop it?? If we give them the pacifier that seems to help but don’t want to have to get up and do that. Any suggestions? Thanks so much. BTW naps are a nightmare. They stand in cribs and cry , need laid down a thousand times! They will be moving rooms at daycare and need to nap on a floor mat, I don’t think it will go well

January 29, 2013 - 7:05 am /

Hi Stephanie, we did a post a while ago with some tips on nap times that you may find useful… click here to view. Crying out doesn’t seem to work very well for nap times in our experience (it’s been suggested it’s because babies use a different part of their brains for naps). Therefore we’d recommend you follow the link and try using the tips that are included on that page.

  

We also had a guest blogger a while back who really struggled with nap times until she changed one thing and suddenly the children were going down much better. Her post can be viewed here.

  

Babies of 12 months should be getting around 9 to 11 hours sleep at night so you’re right to aim for a longer stretch. Is it the same one each night who is waking up screaming? If so, does the other one sleep through every night (you mentioned that the ‘screamer’ doesn’t wake the ‘fusser’ which suggests it’s just one twin who has the sleep ‘problem’)?

  

Obviously legitimate night time needs such as teething might be responsible. It’s also very normal for babies at this age to start having difficulties because from 12 months + they are experiencing a new sleep cycle and need to re-learn how to fall back asleep. How long has this been going on for?

  

Night tremors and separation anxiety are also likely culprits at this age.

  

A last resort might be to try putting them down an hour later each night. I’ve heard reports that this can help in scenarios like this but it depends on the reason for the night waking. If the reason turns about to be the child reaching a developmental milestone then disrupted sleep is inevitable I’m afraid.

  

Finally, we always say to people to check with your doctor/pediatrician if you’re in any doubt about the reasons for the screaming. Our advice is no substitute for that of a doctor.

Andre
October 26, 2013 - 2:54 am /

have done the first part of the ferber method with the timed intervals had her sleeping good by day 5 going down no problem. now however as she is teething can’t seem to put her down at night time without a meltdown anymore. nap times are no problem put her in the crib and no complaints. just seems to be at night that there is issues. any advice????

Michelle
June 5, 2014 - 7:17 am /

Hi there, I’m extremely grateful I stumbled upon your blog. I have a 8 1/2 month old whose sleeping seems to be progressively getting worse, waking 5 times during the night. Once we hear his cries, we enter his room to comfort him. Typically I have to pop him on the boob for a few minutes, he’s out again, then back into his crib he goes. Needless to say, we’re all exhausted. Thus we’ve decided to give the ferber method a try. My biggest concern aside from my baby’s crying is the fact that he can stand in his crib now. Also, the amount of time he’s going to cry! I know I have to be strong though. Thank you for your blog as it offers us so much support. Curious though, how long should we have our baby cry until it’s considered too long? An hour? 2 hours? With gradual checks of course. Also, is the door to his room recommended to be completely shut? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Sac Longchamp Homme Sport
July 20, 2014 - 1:02 pm /

Hrmm that was weird, my comment got eaten. Anyway I wanted to say that its nice to know that someone else also mentioned this as I had trouble finding the same info elsewhere. This was the first place that told me the answer. Thanks.

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