Outline of the Method

Jena - posted on 02/03/2009 ( 14 moms have responded )

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The common method people refer to as "The Ferber Method" is actually what Dr. Ferber calls the, "Progressive-Waiting Approach" in his book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems". To really understand and implement the method, I suggest carefully reading the book. The Progressive-Waiting Approach is only one solution for one type of sleep problem discussed in the book. He suggests using that method when your baby or child has inappropriate sleep associations. Meaning- they do not know how to put themselves to sleep and need something to physically put them to sleep. For example, being held, rocked to sleep, white noises, swinging, nursing, bottle feeding, pacifier, etc. If your child relies on any of these things, it may cause your child to depend on these things to put them to sleep. Whether it’s at bed time, middle of the night, or nap time. Dr. Ferber says only to take action if the current habits are causing a sleep disturbance for your child or self. Babies and children need a certain amount of REM and Non-REM sleep, and the book also explains these cycles.



The Progressive Waiting Approach is outlined as a 7-day process. He does say some babies have drastically improved by day 3, some it takes a little longer. He also says that after 7 days, you can add a few min. to the intervals outlined, but if things have not improved or have gotten worse- you should stop the method and re-evaluate. You may have made a wrong "diagnosis" or you may not be carrying out the method properly.



Here are the basics. Its called a "Progressive Waiting Approach"-

Put your baby to sleep no earlier than they can fall asleep. Your baby needs to be tired and able to sleep. If you put your baby to sleep before they are tired/capable of sleep, they will not fall asleep until tired.



Put your baby where you want them to sleep, awake. For us, it is in her own room in her crib. Make sure she is awake so she knows what is going on.



Tell them lovingly and reassuringly good night and then leave their room.



If the baby is crying, you go in to check on the baby. Do not pick up the baby or feed them. Spend 1-

2 minutes at the babies’ crib side patting them and reassuring them, then leave.



You repeat this process at gradually increasing intervals. The point is to teach your baby how to put themselves to sleep. You do the same thing in the middle of the night when the child wakes.



Here is the waiting schedule outlined in the book (You can modify it, if you wish):



Day 1- 3 min, 5 min, 10 min, subsequent- 10 min.

Day 2- 5 min, 10 min, 12 min., 12 min. subsequent

Day 3- 10 min, 12 min, 15 min., 15 min, subsequent

Day 4- 12 min, 15 min, 17 min., 17 min. subsequent

Day 5- 15 min, 17 min, 20 min., 20 min. subsequent

Day 6- 17 min, 20 min, 25 min., 25 min. subsequent

Day 7- 20 min, 25 min, 30 min., 30 min. subsequent



You do not wait longer than the last interval on each day. Though after a few days, you might not even reach the 2nd interval. You do the same exact method at nap time, however if after 30 min. your baby has not fallen asleep or quieted down, end the nap time and do not try again until the next scheduled nap. If your baby falls asleep on their own later, that is ok. The point is to teach your child how to fall asleep on their own.



For us, the first night it took about an hour- yes, 60 min., or varying degrees of crying. We followed the guidelines for checking. She was asleep in one hour and slept through the night. If she would have woke in the middle of the night, we would have started the process with the same intervals. Day 2 we did the same thing, while adding 2 day times naps. She fell asleep after about 20 min. for each nap and 30 min. at night, sleeping through the night again. We continued following the guidelines each night for the 7 days. Most nights she was right around 25-30 min. at bedtime for the 7 days. We continued past the 7 days and have been doing the method for about 3 weeks now. We did have some bad days where it took 40 min. at night. But for the past week now she has not been making one peep when I put her down at night. I put her in her crib awake, she tosses and turns to get comfy, then is quiet, and shortly asleep. She does the same at nap time. She does wake up usually once a night. She makes a little noise for maybe 10 min. then back to sleep on her own, without any checking from me. Her mood is so much better. I feel so happy that she can now put herself to sleep and enjoy sleeping!!



The reason my husband and I read the book and starting the Progressive-Waiting Approach is b/c our daughter had been a good sleeper early on at night. However, she would never take a structured nap. She may fall asleep in her car seat or swing during the day, but never at a regular time. Nights became difficult. We relied on feeding her, and putting her in her swing with white noise playing-all night- until she fell asleep. Well, this began to not work right around 6 months old. Some nights it took several hours to get her to sleep. I would put her in her swing, hold her, feed, and repeat until she finally fell asleep, then I would put her in her crib and sneak out the room. Only to have her wake up and repeat the process over and over. The book gives some really interesting/funny analogies to show you how this feels to a baby. Here’s one- imagine every night you fall asleep in your bed with your pillow...Only to wake up in the middle of the night in a different spot and with no pillow....You begin to learn that this happens every night... You realize that every night you fall asleep in your bed with your pillow and someone sneaks in the middle of the night, moves you and takes your pillow... You then begin resisting sleep. Honestly, when I read that I knew that was exactly what was happening with my daughter! Every night she fells asleep in my arms, with a bottle in her mouth, but woke up in her crib or swing all alone- no me or bottle. Well, she did begin resisting sleep and she was over tired and cranky all day. We took her to her 6 mo. check up, her pediatrician suggested the method. We bought the book and tried the Progressive Waiting Approach that night.



Just some key things to note- All babies, children, adults, have periods of heavier and lighter sleep. All people wake up in the middle of the night. It is a learned habit to me able to put yourself to sleep, and that is one of the goals of the "Ferber Method". It is important to put your baby to sleep so they know where they are and so they are in the same state when they wake up in the morning. The reason each night and each interval in the Progressive Waiting Approach is so that your baby does not get used to short, frequent trips. If they know that eventually you are coming and will be there, they do not get scared. The book also stresses the importance of a routine. Babies and children need to know exactly what is going to happen. They need to now you are there. They also need to learn how to develop healthy sleep associations.



Hope this helps!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Amber - posted on 11/14/2013

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Hello. We have a 4 month old where we began the CIO at night. Any tips on what we ought to do when she wakes halfway through her nap? She goes down just fine, its just when she wakes 30-40 minutes into her nap where she cries and wants to be held.

Jena - posted on 02/04/2009

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Also want to add:



If your baby's cries intensify when you go in to check, you should still go in to let them know you are there. They may be crying harder when you are there b/c they want you to pick them up. When you leave the room, their crying may die down.



Also, when your baby does start to quiet down on their own, you may not need to go in to check. For example, on day one if it is getting close to the 10 minute mark where you are to go check on your child, if they are quieting down and not really crying, do not go in. They are beginning to settle down and you going in may disrupt them. You can always go in later if they start crying again.



 

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2009

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oh and he has been swaddled since day 1, takes his naps in the swing. I just want to know how long should i let him cry? I feel like he can go all night!

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Chelsie - posted on 04/04/2014

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We are having trouble with our 9 month old. He sits up in bed and just cries. Should we lie him down when we go in or console him sitting up?

Melissa Clark - posted on 11/05/2013

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I think I may need to try this method. My son is 15 1/2 months and does great at naptime and bedtime ... he is often awake when I lay him down and at that time he will self soothe and fall asleep. However he wakes at least 2-3 times at night wanting to nurse to be able to fall back asleep. I usually end up just going in and nursing because then its quick and he will fall back to sleep easier. I have also let him cry it out and he can go on for over an hour , screaming loudly. Its so hard because I want the rest of the family to be able to sleep also which is another reason why I go in. I am getting so tired though and thinking of becoming pregnant again and really dont want to be getting up in the night still when I am pregnant and exhausted. I also want my son to be getting sufficient sleep and learning how to fall back asleep at night by himself ! Need help !

[deleted account]

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! For this informative post! My daughter is almost 11 months old and she's been in our bed this whole time. So, I'm the co-sleeping, breast feeding kinda mommy:) This hasn't been working well for quite some time now, but I was hesitant to let my baby go. And fearful that there would be many sleepless nights while she adjusted. Like we weren't sleepless enough with her nursing countless times a night, waking up and wanting to play, etc. But this Ferber method gave me a concrete plan...and that's what we needed! So yesterday was Day 1...we did the Ferber thing for her morning nap...she was SCREAMING...but fell asleep part way into the second 10 min cycle. She fell asleep, sitting up, hands on the crib rails, head resting on the bars,lol! So I laid her down, she screamed again for a few seconds and napped for 3 hours!!! Unbelievable for her. Previous naps were usually half and hour or so in her stroller or car seat! Last night she went to bed awake but sleepy and 8 and didn't even cry the full 3 minutes! Had a brief awakening at 11 due to thunder, but settled quickly and SLEPT ALL NIGHT til 8 am! Crazy how fast this worked. Hoping today goes as well!

Jena - posted on 04/06/2009

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Hi Ayelet! If it is once a week, every week, then he will probably get used to it. Since it is always at your parents, in the same crib, I think he will be fine adjusting. Especially if he has already been sleeping at your parents, it won't be new or scary to him.

Ayelet - posted on 04/05/2009

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My son is turning one at the end of the month, but he has been sleeping in my bed with me since he was born (for many reasons, but the main one being that we didnt have a crib...) Once he learned how to crawl I knew this could get dangerous for obvious reasons ( falling out of the bed) I saw this group and decided to try this method about 1 weeks ago. The 1st night I went to check on Isaiah after about 5 minutes, then after another 5 or 10 minutes and by then he was asleep. The second night I only had to go in once. On the third night I put him in his crib, he looked up at me smiled, rolled over and went to sleep! Unfortunately he was sick this weekend so I let him sleep with me so we kind of started over again today...although it only took about 15-20 minutes tonight as well...My only issue is that on Friday nights we usually stay at my parents house where he has a different crib, is that to disruptive to his sleep habits? Or is it ok to have him sleep in a different place once a week?

Jena - posted on 02/12/2009

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Ok, so it sounds like he doesn't need the night time feeding, you have just been using that to put him back to sleep. In that case, yes, I would continue the method. I would try doing it for the full week and see if there is an improvement. If there is no improvement in a week, then you should consider not continuing. Of course, this is just my opinion!! It ultimately is up to you.



Are you following the waiting guidelines? If he wakes in the middle of the night you should start that night's waiting guidelines over again. For example, day 2 is 5 min, 10 min,12 min. That is for putting him to  naps, bed, and middle of the night wakings.

Melissa - posted on 02/12/2009

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My baby will be 5 months on the 26th. For about a month he didnt need the night time feedings and would sleep through the night (5-6). Recently since we moved, he's been waking up at different times of the night  (one night 3, next 4). The Doctor tells me not to feed and I also believe he has my breasts confused as his pacifier, so I didnt feed again when he woke up at 4am, and he actually went back to sleep on his own. We ended up having to swaddle him last night for him to sleep because he cried for 90 mins and didnt look like there was an end in sight, . Im starting to wonder if this method will not work on him. Should I continue?

Jena - posted on 02/12/2009

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Oh, I also wanted to ad that you may want to consider un-swaddling him at night. We swaddled my daughter when she was born until about 4-5 months, then she couldn't stand it. Also, I think doing this method since you leave your baby in their crib to ultimately fall asleep on their own, they should be comfortable and free of motion to move around and get comfy. I know some times my daughter rustles around and end up falling asleep on her side in her crib, then later flattens out to her back. Just a thought.



 



I would also suggest naps in the crib, not swing to get your baby used to falling asleep on his own in his crib. The book says to do the same waiting times at naps, but if after 30 min. of crying your baby is still up, you should end that nap time.

Jena - posted on 02/12/2009

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Hi Melissa,



The first night will most likely be the longest night your baby cries. If you are going strictly by the method, you would keep checking at 10 min. intervals for as long as it took until your baby fell asleep. For us, the first night took about 60 min.



If your baby throws up, you should go in and clean him up, then put him  back in his crib. Do not make a big fuss about it, or he may learn to throw up on purpose to get you to come in.



How old is your baby? The book does not suggest using the method unless your baby is at least 4 months old.



When I started the method with my daughter she was no longer eating a full bottle in the middle of the night. We got lucky and the first night that we tried it, she slept through the night. Since your baby is used to getting a middle of the night feeding, it would be unfair to stop that cold turkey. The book suggests gradually increasing the amount of time between feedings and/or decreasing the amount of formula or breast milk given at each feeding. I really would suggest getting the book to read over the part about night time feedings. That was not something we had to tackle, so I don't know the best ways to go about that.



I know its very hard the first few nights to hear your baby cry! You can always alter the waiting and checking intervals if you feel you need to. Just so long as each night the intervals are longer. That way your baby doesn't get used to many, frequent trips from you.



Good luck!!

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2009

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I just started this method, tonight (previous rtried it, but gave up when he was 3mo). My baby is exclusively breastfeed and once I put him down, he wails and cries sooo hard that he vomits. I let it go this time and cleaned it up, but he's been crying for the past 90mins and its approaching his last feeding time. Do I feed and repeat the process? I confused as im afraid he is going to spit up again.

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