Does the Ferber Method really work?

[deleted account] ( 19 moms have responded )

I have a 5 and a half month old I am trying to get to sleep in her own crib and am unsure of how to go about doing it.

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Alyssa - posted on 07/25/2010

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I believe letting them sooth themselves to sleep is very healthy for them. My 8 month old has been sleeping through the night (9pm to about 9am) since he was a month old. I would let him cry for about 10 mins and if he hadnt fallen asleep I would go get him and sooth him and lay him back down and try again the first night took a while but he was fine after about 3 or 4 days! Now at bed time we lay him down and he fusses a little bit but calms himself down. I feel they should learn to calm themselves because it will help them in the long run. There is many books to read about different methods. Each mom has their own opinions and thoughts

Renae - posted on 07/23/2010

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Firstly, CIO and Control Crying (or ferber method) are different things. CIO with cry interpretation is different again.

I will give you some history on Ferber's method that may help you understand it a bit better.

Ferber invented Control Crying in the 70's. For decades prior to this, mothers were told when the baby was 12 weeks old, to put them in their cot at 7pm and leave them all night, regardless of how long they cry, until 7am the following morning. 99% of babies stop crying at all after 3 nights and sleep for very long stretches. This method is known as the "extinction" method and it was used on probably hundreds and thousands of babies over many years. In the 60's and 70's the doctors started to notice increasing parental resistence to the extinction method. So Ferber came up with a way to make parents feel better about it. He did a lot of research and found that the baby will still stop crying after 3-6 nights if the parents are allowed into the room to check on the baby at timed intervals - provided they did not pick the baby up and were only in there for a minute. CC is known as "graduated extinction". Basically, control crying was invented to allow parents to check on the baby and make parents feel better about leaving their baby to cry.

A lot of research has been done on control crying since the 70's. Mostly throughout the 90's. By then, we were able to hook babies up to monitors and measure their stress levels during the process. We now know that stress levels peak when the parent leaves the room. When you hear people talking about the stress the baby goes through being the same as an adult being tortured, this is what they are talking about. The stress levels peak to an extremely high level when the parent leaves the room after checking on the baby for one or two minutes. So there are many psychologists who believe that the old extinction method was actually better for the baby than CC because the parent going in there makes the baby's stress worse. It was at about this time that parental presence (letting baby cry in the cot but parent stays in the room) became popular, since they thought that this was better than both CIO or CC.

Phew... after that long speil... you have several options. You have the options of the crying methods described above or you can use one of the no-cry methods more commonly used these days.

Firstly, you should know that 75% of babies will sleep through the night for 10 hours before they are 1 year old, REGARDLESS of how they go to sleep or what the parents do. They sleep when they are physiologically ready to sleep for long stretches.

To determine whether your baby is currently a candidate for sleep training you need to tell me how long she currently sleeps for and how many times she wakes during the night. I am more than happy to send you some instructions for the most commonly used no-cry method, usually called gradual withdrawal or gradual reduction.

Monica - posted on 07/22/2010

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I recommend the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. In it, Dr. Weissbluth describes different temperament types of babies, and the methods of sleep teaching that might work the best for each, at different ages.

Sleep teaching is a very controversial topic that a lot of moms feel strongly about. I myself felt very strongly about not letting my son cry to sleep for many months. However, he is a very social boy and NONE of the no-cry methods worked for us because he always thought it was play time and would be up for 3 hours or more. Or, if he did end up falling asleep he would cry and be suddenly wide awake again the second I set him down. I ended up with an over-tired and over-cranky baby, and over-tired mommy and daddy who snapped at each other a lot and were getting in trouble at work for not being focused.

Finally, at around 10 months I became convinced that I would be a better mommy, and we would be a happier family if I started to let my son cry to discipline him into learning that night is the time to sleep, not play with mommy.

After about a week, we went from 4 wakings a night to one. The first few nights we had to endure 45-60 minutes of crying which was agonizing. But by the end of the week, it was only taking 5-10 minutes. After about 2-3 weeks, my son was not waking up at all but was sleeping 11-12 hours straight.

We are a much better family now. I must say that letting your child cry will probably not work if they are hungry, need a change, are teething, or have some other NEED. However, if they are waking to fulfill a social WANT, which is not in their best interest at 3am, then letting them cry will work.

Today, my son only wakes me up when he has a real need. He is independent and the happiest little boy I've ever known. He's very attached to his mommy and daddy. I can't see any negative side effects to our beginning to discipline him at 10 months.

Nikki - posted on 07/21/2010

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I personally dont believe In the CIO method. I think it causes more harm then good. When we first moved my son into his crib, we would rock him to sleep or let him fall asleep in our bed and move him when he was asleep, after a week or so he would go down just fine in his crib. I have never once let him cry I have always attended to his needs, because I dont believe they cry for no reason. My son is one of the most independant little boys who now has no time to be held, he\s too busy running around to care about sitting with me or letting me rock him before bed, and this started around 11 months. I long for the days he'd let me hold him. I always wanted him to feel safe and secure and to know he can rely on his mommy to be there whenever he needed.

Frances - posted on 07/22/2010

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I think it depends upon the baby. With my first three, the cry it out method worked. They would cry a lot the first night, some the second night and usually by the fourth night were sleeping through the night. I tried the cry it out method with my fourth child at 15 months. After two weeks, the crying had not lessened at all and he was waking up at least four times a night. (Where previously it was once or twice.) I was exhausted and he was too, so I went back to feeding him at night for another six months.

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Toni - posted on 08/12/2010

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My son was a premie and after we got him off the oxygen we put him into his own room and immediatly set a schedule for him...breakfast, play and nap, lunch, play, and nap, play and dinner and after a bath at 7:30-8 he goes to bed. He would cry a little bit but he learned to comfort himself and slept through the night! Start early and she will learn to comfort herself. Even for naps. My son now likes to sit up in his crib when its bed time, so we say goodnight and about a half an hour later he is asleep. Be patient but let her calm herself. I found when my son was in our room every little noise woke me up, with him in his own room and crib I only wake up to actual awake noises.

Jenni - posted on 07/31/2010

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I used it with my now 2 year old son and it does work. It took a few weeks. It was a last resort for me though. I had a lot of diffculty getting my son to sleep. I believe b/c he was my first i had trouble reading his cues, knowing how to get him to sleep properly and possibly he was a bit of a stubborn sleeper. It made me feel guilty (even though you leave them for only a short time).
My 11 week old daughter is a better sleeper than he was. When she starts to slow down and looks sleepy i lie her in the crib with her paci. she'll spit it out a few times and ill replace it. usually takes 5 mins and she's out. Sometimes she'll even fall asleep on her own. But there are occasions when she has a screamfest right before she falls asleep. I'll hold during it and she eventually passes right out and then i lay her down. I don't rock her or walk with her or use any kind of control that would prevent her from learning to sleep on her own. It really comes down to knowing what method will work best for your baby (they're all different). Reading her cues accurately and timely. Keeping to a routine. And consistancy.
The ferberizing method suggests you leave the room. I'm sure you can do it while sitting in a chair next to her crib w/o making eye contact. Giving her reassurance at intervals.

[deleted account]

thanks for all the advice my son never slept in bed with me and i certainly don't want to get my daughter into the habit, simply because i know of people who's children slept in bed with them until they were 12 years old and i can't imagine the stress it had on her and her husband's relationship. another thing i'm worried about with this is losing my milk, my daughter is breastfed and only eats baby food 1-2 times a day. And i'm afraid that if she starts sleeping for 12 hrs straight i will lose my milk and won't be able to feed her.

[deleted account]

I am not trying to be anal about the coi sleeping but I am sure my friend didnt think that her baby could ever suffocate and die.They had a 3 year old that slept with them when she was a baby and was perfectly fine. My point is why take the chance? this is somehting I used to preach to the girls at work about and when it happened to someone close to us they all saw where I was coming from but until it happened they all had the same views, they didnt want to see their babies cry. Let me say I didnt put my daughter to bed crying, she was ready for sleep and went immediately to sleep or was asleep already when she went down. The minute I hear her vrying even now at 20 months I call out to her that I will be right there and I am there.I am not trying to down other people's methods by any means I just want people to be aware of the risks.=)

Tiffany - posted on 07/24/2010

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everybody has their own opinions, i do not really like the idea of letting your baby cry it out.

I did however read another method that i forget the name of, but it said to lay your baby down once he/she is asleep, if he/she happens to wake up, pick him/her up and sway him/her back to sleep, and lay them back down, it could take a few tries, but your baby should eventually get the hang of it and understand that its time for sleep, and that they sleep in their own bed.

Lise - posted on 07/24/2010

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I've heard it works and am sure it does - I just don't think the way it works is healthy for children.

@Christina - I'm so sorry for your friend's loss, but there are safe ways to bedshare and unsafe ways to do it. Our lo has been in our bed since she was just 3 days old and it's been wonderful. That being said, we researched all the ways to make it safe and have followed them.

[deleted account]

My daughter went straight from bassinet next to our bed to crib in her own room when she was about 4 months old with no problems. I HIGHLY do not agree with putting children in your bed to sleep for ANY reason whatsoever. My best friend just lost one of her twins by doing so due to suffocation. Of course it was an accident BUT it is not safe!!!!! Why take the chance??? I know that my friend never thought for one second that she was doing any harm and now this is somehting she has to live with for the rest of her life. Very sad.

Renae - posted on 07/23/2010

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Sorry I didn't actually answer your question. Yes when you follow the instructions and do it properly it does normally work. All crying methods have very high success rates.

Jacquelyn - posted on 07/23/2010

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@Morgan, how did you keep you milk supply up when she was sleeping so long so young?

[deleted account]

I started contorlled crying when my son was about 4/5 months old. I'd lay him in his cot after his milk and leave him. If he cried I left him a couple of minutes and went back to replace his dummy, and continued this until he fell asleep. He's now nearly 8 months old and settles himself to sleep and sleeps 7pm-7am.

Morgan - posted on 07/23/2010

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I recomend the Dr Ferber book to all my friends who are expecting,
My daughter is 6 months and has been sleeping through since 6 weeks, Dr ferber has some amazing tips on babies sleeping patterns.
I read the book before I had my DD and have never had an issue, shes been in her crib since day 1 and has never slept in our bed,
we never made it as far as the CIO, most people hear Dr Ferber and think CIO right away, that is not the case at all, and if you do go their your only letting babe cry for a minute at a time, most people think CIO is leaving baby to cry for hours on end, Dr Ferbers method is not about that at all its about setting a routine and introducing proper sleeping habbits.
As I said I love the book its great.
take a look at the book then make your choice :)
Good luck

Monica - posted on 07/23/2010

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Five months is not necessarily too soon to get things started. At this age, you can start doing things like setting up a bedtime/naptime routine, and weaning your son away from sleep associations (like bottle-feeding to sleep). By setting up a routine and dissociating things like feedings from falling asleep, you will set up a great foundation for sleep training in earnest in a few months. Good luck!

[deleted account]

thanks for all of your help and advice i realize that 5 months is too soon to start sleeping methods i just really want to be prepared for when the time comes. thank you all again.

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