Picture this – you have spent time feeding and soothing your baby and finally your little one is asleep! It’s been a long day and you are looking forward to catch up on some sleep in the night. This is the time when you can finally rest, even if it’s only for a while. As you lie down and start settling into a comfortable sleep, your baby wakes up, yet again!
If you are a new mom, you will surely identify with this scenario. You would probably wake up and nurse or soothe your baby back to sleep again.
However, if you are trying to follow the Ferber Method, you may probably not be doing any of this for your baby. Read on to know more.
What Is The Ferber Method?
The Ferber Method, developed by Dr. Richard Ferber, is a technique to solve sleep problems in babies (1).
- The method encourages parents to train their babies to fall asleep on their own.
- The technique essentially asks parents to let their babies cry for a good amount of time before soothing them.
- The amount of time you let your baby cry is gradually increased each time your baby wakes up and starts crying.
The Ferber Method is also known as ‘Ferberizing’ or ‘cry it out’ though the latter term is not used by Dr. Ferber himself.
The method first became popular when the book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems authored by Dr. Richard Ferber got published in the year 1985. While there were some takers for this innovative technique, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the same. Parents, child sleep practitioners and pediatricians have not always reacted positively to the method as suggested by Dr. Ferber.
[ Read: Let The Baby Cry It Out Method ]
How Does The Ferber Method Work?
According to Dr. Ferber, you can teach your baby to soothe herself back to sleep, even though she may be an infant. Here is how you are supposed to help your baby sleep using the Ferber sleep Method:
- You should establish a warm and loving bedtime routine with your baby.
- Keep the activity or routine soothing and relaxing.
- After some time, put your baby in the cot while she is still awake. According to Dr. Ferber, it is important to ensure your baby is awake when she is in the cot. This will teach your baby how to fall asleep independently.
- Now leave your baby alone, even if she is crying.
- After some time, you can pat and soothe your baby. You are however not supposed to pick her up or feed her.
- Once again, you need to let her stay in the cot alone, even if she is crying.
- This time around, when you soothe your baby, you need to increase the gap. This routine is known as ‘progressive waiting’.
- According to this ferber technique, your baby will learn to fall asleep on her own. This is because your baby will begin to understand that crying at sleep time will not help. You will only come and pat for a while and then leave. Hence, she learns and understands the importance of sleeping on her own.
[ Read: Sleep Training For Babies ]
Is The Ferber Method Actually Good Or Bad?
While some parents may surely vouch for the Ferber method in how it helps everyone sleep better, there are many studies that show otherwise.
According to some parenting experts, the Ferber Method triggers ‘learned helplessness’ (2) in babies. Learned helplessness is a situation when your brain receives a negative signal that you cannot escape a certain situation.
On the other hand, there are other medical experts who believe that it is absolutely fine to let babies soothe themselves to sleep.
[ Read: How To Get Baby Sleep In Cot ]
Theories That Support Ferber Method:
Experts who support this theory feel that though babies are left to cry themselves to sleep; they know that their parents are always there.
- Babies are made to go through a loving and soothing bedtime routine.
- Parents come back at night to soothe and pat them.
- Parents also come back in the morning to pick them up and love them.
According to them, such babies learn self-control and the ability to be independent.
[ Read: Baby Sleeping Positions ]
Theories That Do Not Support Ferber Method:
There are many experts who feel that the Ferber method has immediate and delayed negative impact than benefits.
- There is no psychological synchrony between mothers and babies.
- Babies experience a significantly increased level of stress. In some babies, this could lead to a higher stress level that keeps growing as the baby grows.
- It is possible that your baby may start falling into a regular sleep pattern soon, without being made to cry through the Ferber method.
[ Read: Baby Sleep Problems ]
With such varying opinions, it can be difficult to decide whether you should follow the Ferber Method or not. How you decide to soothe and help your baby is entirely up to you. While some parents do let their babies cry, others may have a hard time listening to their little one screaming.
Whatever you do, remember you have your baby’s best interest in mind. Keep your baby’s safety and comfort in first priority and you will soon know whether you want to follow the Ferber Method or not.
Did you ever try this mode of sleep training with your baby? Do share your experiences in the comments section below!
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