After too many cranky nights and coffee-fueled mornings, you’ve finally decided to give sleep training a go. Here, one of the most popular—and controversial—methods explained.
Ferber, who now? A pediatrician and former director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston, Dr. Richard Ferber published his book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems in 1985 and pretty much changed the way babies (and their parents) have been snoozing ever since.
So what is it? In short, it’s a sleep training method where babies learn how to soothe themselves to sleep (often by “crying it out”) when they’re ready, which is usually around five months old.
How does it work? First, follow a caring bedtime routine (like taking a bath and reading a book) before putting your baby to bed when she's drowsy but still awake. Then (and here’s the hard part) you leave the room—even if your baby is crying. If your child fusses, you can go in to comfort her (by patting and offering soothing words, not by picking her up) but, again, making sure to leave while she’s still awake. Every night, you increase the amount of time between these check-ins, which Ferber calls "progressive waiting." On the first night, you might go and comfort your baby every three, five and ten minutes (with ten minutes being the maximum interval time, although you would restart at three minutes if she wakes up later). A few days later, you might have worked up to 20-, 25- and 30-minute check-ins.