I Ferberized My Kid

I Ferberized my kid.

If you’d asked me four months ago what that sentence meant, I would have been clueless. Circumcise, immunize, baptize sure, but Ferberize, no.

There’s a lot of words you learn as a new parent. But by my internal counter, the word that comes up the most frequently is a word so common and taken for granted that until parenthood, I hardly thought or talked about it: sleep, a subject of obsession and newly alien to every nascent parent.

When the moms I know get together, the conversation always, without fail, turns to sleep.1 Or more specifically whether our babies are sleeping through the night and how to get them there.2

After cursory research involving a short summary I read on various sleep training methods in Baby 411 that placed Ferber’s method at the top of its list and anecdotal thumbs ups from a new moms support group, I decided to Ferberize3 Hank.

You’ve gotta be pretty famous (and some might say infamous) to have your name made into a verb. Ferberize is Dr. Richard Ferber’s method of getting children to sleep through the night that involves parents waiting in increasing time intervals to give their babies the chance to learn to fall asleep on their own. The popular epithet, “cry it out” method, is a gross oversimplification of Ferberizing. But you really have to read the book for yourself, I think, to realize this. Otherwise, it’s all hearsay about a sleep training method that has way too many misconceptions and corresponding feelings of suspicion and antipathy attached to it.

Let me be very clear about what’s to follow in this blog about Ferberizing: it is my experience and answer to getting my baby to sleep. I cannot claim with total confidence a causal relationship between what I did and what’s happened with Baby’s sleep habits. It could be a coincidence. But probably not. And although Baby didn’t get Ferberized at nearly the rate projected in Ferber’s book or by some of the parents who’ve used his method, I will say that Ferber worked for us.

Before moving on to the play-by-play of my Ferberizing experience, the issues I wanted to resolve with Baby’s sleeping habits were:

    1. Baby falling asleep at the boob. I somehow “trained” my baby to fall asleep while nursing. This was great when I was willing to do anything to get my baby to sleep, but by 4 months I was so over it.

    2. If he was still awake after feeding, I had to bounce him on the exercise ball while patting his bum and humming a lullaby for at least 15 min, usually more.

    3. When Baby woke up prematurely from naps (by premature I mean within 30-40 min) and I knew he needed more, I would feed him (even though he wasn’t hungry) and/or bounce him to sleep, both of which would more often than not wake him up completely from the nap.

    4. When he got up for his middle-of-the-night feeds4 I needed to nurse him till he passed out or if he was still awake after nursing, bounce him to sleep. Sometimes he stayed up for more than 2 hours. He seemed to think that 2:30AM was a great time to hang out with mom.

Bottom line: after 10 days, Baby fell asleep without crying and completely on his own. He sleeps for 8-8.5hr at night with 1 night feed that lasts no more than 15 min and he puts himself to sleep afterwards.

What follows is my Ferberizing journal. Keep a journal to record how much the baby sleeps, his nap times and bed time, how long he cries. I even jotted down how I was feelings at certain points in the wait times to help remind myself to stay strong and push on if the next day I was feeling the same thing and ready to crack.

* * *

Day 1. Monday February 11. (Incidentally, Squeezable Companion’s and my first year anniversary.)
Wait times (min): 1, 3, 5, 10. (10 thereafter)5

I feed the baby his last meal of the day. He starts passing out as usual. I wake him up by unlatching him. He fusses but I put him to bed somewhat awake. It’s 8PM.6 Start timing. I go in after 1st wait of 1 min and soothe him for 1 min (Ferber suggest 1-2 min but no more) by stroking his back and head and patting his bum and saying, “Go to sleep sweetie, I know you can do it,” and making shushing sounds. I do this for no more than one minute and leave. I wait 3 min for my 2nd wait. He’s still crying. Hard. I go in for 1 min to soothe him and his crying gets worse. 3rd wait, 5 min; 1 min soothing. His crying gets worse still. 4th wait, 10 minutes.

This is when things get hard. While I’ve been waiting, I have not been making dinner or putting away his bath things or watching television or sipping on wine. I can’t do anything except sit there on the sofa with my legs drawn up to my chest, nose buried in my knees, holding my phone with both hands as I watch the seconds count down on the timer, listening to my baby cry through the baby monitor. I don’t even bother to attempt any pretension of business as usual or disinterest or calm.

I start to wonder if I’m making a mistake. He’s 4 months and 1 week. Maybe I’m wrong and he’s not ready. Maybe he’s still too young. Maybe he’s actually hurting. Maybe he really still does need me in order to fall asleep. Maybe his neurological connections haven’t sufficiently, you know, connected and he physically cannot soothe himself to sleep. Maybe I’m hurting my baby. Rocking him to sleep isn’t so bad. Not all the time. He’s so sweet looking in my arms, my sweet little boy. What’s another month? I could abort and just wait until he’s 5 months. I can always start it again. It’s also my anniversary. Do I really want to be doing this to myself on my anniversary? Do I want to be doing this to? What if he cries for hours? The couple of hours we have to ourselves on our anniversary night will be shot to hell.

I ask SC if I’m making a mistake. He says no. What if he’s not ready? He’s ready. What if I’m wrong. You’re not.

I go in after 10 agonizing minutes, the 4th wait. Soothe for 1 min. He cries so hard I think he’s going to pass out.

5th wait. And that’s when it happens. 6 min in, he stops crying and makes fussing, moaning sounds. 1 more min later, the baby monitor goes silent.

Summary: 26 minutes of crying.

* * *

Day 2. Tuesday, February 12.
Wait times (min): 3, 5, 10 (10 thereafter)

Put baby in the crib awake after feeding him and unlatch him before he passed out completely. He starts crying immediately. I wait 3 min; go in to soothe for 1. Wait 5 min, soothe for 1. Wait 4 min into the 10 minute wait and I start to get really antsy. Why? The night before, Baby dirtied his diaper during the crying and because I was so determined to Ferberize him, I didn’t listen to his crying and left him to sleep in his own shit. I felt terrible when the following morning I discovered the mess.

So I go in and check to see if he’s pooped his pants again without taking him out of his crib. I don’t stop the clock during all this. Clean diaper. Go back out. With two and a half minutes left on the 10 min wait, he stops crying and starts making little noises. 8:10 min into 3rd wait, he goes silent. Oh but wait. He makes a little noise again so I start the next wait of 10 min but I don’t go in. He’s not crying. 2:08 min into this 4th and final wait, he falls asleep.

Summary: 16 min of crying. 10 minutes better than the night before.

* * *

Day 3. Wednesday, February 13.
Wait times (min): 5, 10, 12 (12 thereafter)

I’m feeling fantastic. The 10 min improvement last night gives me the confidence to try feeding him half an hour before his first nap.7 Up until today, I’ve always fed him just before putting him down to sleep, my rational being if he goes down with a full belly, it increasing the likelihood of a longer stretch of sleep before waking up from hunger.

The problem is that Hank associates nursing with sleeping. He needs to nurse to fall asleep. This is a problem because if he’s full and awake than he can’t nurse and can’t fall asleep. It’s also a problem because if he briefly comes out of sleep, as people including babies tend to do several time during the night, he can’t fall back asleep unless I nurse him even though he doesn’t need to eat.

So for his 2nd nap, I feed him 30 min before his nap time.8 I put him in the crib wide awake, but calm. At 1:30 min he starts to cry after just fussing. He stops crying at 4 min. I go into his room against my better judgement after 5 min and see that his eyes are barely open and he’s very sleepy. I leave right away and he naps for 2.5 hours.

Later that night, I’m too nervous to change the night time routine so I go ahead and nurse him as the last thing I do before putting him in his crib. But I don’t unlatch him soon enough and he ends up passing out on the boob. No sleep training possible. So tonight is a wash.

Summary: 4 min of crying for a nap. No bedtime training time available.

* * *

Day 4. Thursday, February 14.
Wait times (min): 5, 10, 12 (12 thereafter)

Since I didn’t really get to sleep train Baby last night, I decide to stick with the same wait times of 5, 10 and 12 min.

I feed him 1 hr before his 1st nap, do the sleep routine. He cries 5 min before falling asleep and I don’t go in at all to soothe him. He naps for 1 hr.

For his 2nd nap, he wakes up after 30 min. This makes me nervous because he usually naps extremely well during the day. He hasn’t had a 30 min nap in a long time.9 I forgot to record the crying time.

For his 3rd nap, I have to soothe him for 1 min after the first 5 min. He falls asleep 6:30 min into the second wait of 10 min for a total of 11.5 min to fall asleep. He wakes up after only an hour. Unlike his wake up after the 2nd nap, I decide that he needs to sleep more. He’s had a total of 2.5 hours of day time sleep at this point and I know he needs more. So I go in and soothe him for 1 min, and start the time for 5 min. 2:30 min in, he falls asleep and stays that way for another 1.5 hours.

Later that night, I finally girdle up and decide to feed him before his bath, song, and book. In the four month and a week that Henry has been alive, I have never fed him before his bath and song and book. I’m really nervous. I’m wondering if I’m doing the right thing. I wonder if he’ll get hungry sooner and wake up earlier in the night. And what if this results in him waking up for a second feed in the night? I have to give it a shot and see what happens. And even resolved to this new routine, I still break and feed him a little bit because I imagine he didn’t get enough before his bath. The change in routine throws him off a bit and distracts him. In any case, I still manage to put him in his crib awake and not crying.

I start timing. At 2 min, he’s fussing but not crying. At 4 min he starts crying hard. I have to go in at the end of 5 min to soothe him for 1 min. At 8 min into the 10 min wait, I go into check his diaper because he’s crying so hard that I’m reminded of the first night accident. Since I went in before the 10 min were up, I start the timer for the 3rd wait of 12 min without going in to soothe him. 2:30 min into the 3rd wait, I’m getting panicked. Wtf? It’s been 17:30 min of crying so far, which means he’s gotten worse since Day 2, not better. What am I doing wrong? Is he hungry? What is he’s not ready? And the litany of doubts creep back like a fungal infection. The only thing keeping me from breaking rank and defenestrating Ferber’s book is that I think the confusion I’d create by not being continuing and changing the rules on him yet again would be worse for the baby.

9 min into the 12 min wait, he goes silent.

Summary: 24 min of crying. 8 minutes worse than the night before. Discouraged.

* * *

Day 5. Friday, February 15.
Wait times (min): 5, 10, 12 (12 thereafter)

I should be going with wait times of 10, 12, 15 but I can’t bring myself to wait 10 minutes for the first wait. It just seems way too long. I know I’m prolonging the inevitable but I still can’t do it. I wish I weren’t doing this alone.

For the 1st nap he cries so hard for the first 15 min that I decide that he must not be tired enough, that I put him in his crib to nap too early.10 So I take him out and play with him for another 30 min, doing the bedtime routine again. He falls asleep after 2 min. Lesson: so important to put them in when they are actually ready for a nap.

For the 2nd nap, I put him in wide awake with a single yawn as my cue. He cries for 15 min with 1 min of soothing at the end of the first 5 min. Day 5 of Ferberizing and he’s still crying whenever I put him to sleep, day or night, and now when Ferber says it should take 3-4 days to get baby to sleep without crying. Discouraged, frustrated, I wish I weren’t doing this alone.

I let him sleep 30 min in the car seat during a walk, his 3rd nap. I know I should probably avoid all errands during nap times while I’m sleep training but I decided to go and have coffee with a couple of friends and he falls asleep on the walk home. My justification? A happy mom is a happy baby.

Later that night, the first 5 min of crying are not too vigorous and I’m hopeful. But when I go in to soothe him for 1 min, his crying gets harder. The next 8:30 min is a melange of burst of hard crying and moaning. He’s asleep in 13:30 min. I record his actual bedtime for the first time: 8:17PM.

Summary: 13:30 min of crying. 10:30 min better than yesterday. Best night time falling asleep learning curve so far. But I’m wondering if he’s just exhausting himself or actually learning anything. This sucks ass.

* * *

Day 6. Saturday, February 16.
Wait times (min): 10, 12, 15 (15 thereafter)

I finally decide to move to the next series of wait times, the times I should have been using by Day 3; it’s Day 6.

1st nap takes 6:30 min. He doesn’t cry so much as fuss a bit. I’m ecstatic.

2nd nap starts with a lot of crying, something I don’t expect considering how great he did for the first nap. I doubt my timing and so I take him out of the crib and play with him for 30 min before putting him to bed again. He takes 9 min to fall asleep and cries hard.

Later that night, although it only takes Hank 9:30 min to fall asleep, I’m really discouraged by the fact that he’s still crying to sleep. What happened to the cooing and talking to himself and then falling asleep peacefully? One mother even described hearing the sweet sound of her baby’s rattle slowing and drifting to the sweeter sound of silence as the reward for her Ferberizing efforts. What of that? Where the hell is my zero crying, 100% cooing happy sleepy land sounds?

Summary: 9:30 min of crying. 4 min better than yesterday. Why is he still crying at all? Did I prolong the torture by not following strictly to Ferber’s method? Probably. At least I didn’t have to go in to soothe him at any point of the day. I suppose that’s progress.

* * *

Day 7. Sunday, February 17.
Wait times (min): 12, 15, 17 (17 thereafter)

1st nap and he’s still crying. I want to wring Ferber’s neck. Just then Baby falls asleep after 3:30 min. 2nd nap 6:30 min. Still crying. Later that night I actually have to go in to soothe him because he cries beyond 12 min. And then only 8:30 min into the 15 min wait does he stop crying and fall asleep, for a total of 20:30 min. That’s 11 min worse than last night. It’s day 7. I am so discouraged. I’m starting to really question the method itself. Up until this point, I assumed I was the problem with the reordering of his bedtime routine, the occasional mistakes in nap time guesses, the slower increase of wait times. But now I wonder if the method isn’t nearly as effective as I thought it would be as and as other purported it to be.

Summary: 20:30 min of crying. 11 min worse than yesterday. Depressed.

* * *

Day 8. Monday, February 18.
Wait times (min): 12, 15, 17 (17 thereafter)

For both naps today he falls asleep in 4 min and 11 min later that night. He cries but it’s not anywhere near the intensity of the first 7 days. Things are better.

Summary: 11 min of crying. 9:30 min better than yesterday. Measured joy.

* * *

Day 10. Wednesday, February 20.

I stopped recording after Day 8, planning to write a glass-half-full blog post about my experience with Ferberizing.

And then Day 10 came along.

He put himself to sleep tonight without crying. Who da man? Baby’s da man. My amazing little man.

Summary: 0 min of crying. [Insert happy dance here.]

* * *

I go back to Ferber’s book and reread the chapter where he outlines his method. He says, “By the third or fourth day your child will most likely be sleeping very well. If further work is still necessary after that, continue following the chart down to day 7; if at that point the problem is improving, but is still not fully resolved, continue to add a few minutes to each interval on successive days.”11

I should have kept my expectations lower and prepared myself for a longer haul than 3 or 4 days.

Besides the reward I got last night, the other immense benefit to Ferberizing that I haven’t yet mentioned is that when the baby wakes up prematurely from naps, I don’t have to go to him right away, but start progressive wait timing instead. This has meant I never had to soothe him to sleep in the middle of the night since I started Ferberizing.

Overall, Ferber works. I think if you follow it to the letter, you’ll get faster results. He says that in the book, that if you modify his method by tackling different sleep issues separately it will take longer, like starting with shorter wait times (which I did) or responding to their crying before set times (which I did). And despite all my ambivalence, doubts, and rancor during the training, I’d do it again without hesitation.

* * *

Got your own story about Ferberizing? Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! Email me or contact me via comments.

1. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I read this book called Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks by a woman named Suzy Giordano. That book of hope, perfectly packaged in neat 130 pages with a picture of a sleeping baby on its jacket cover, makes sleep training sound like a cake walk. Not only that, it makes it seem like people whose babies don’t sleep 12 hours in 12 weeks seem idiotic. What a giant fraud of a book. The truth is, babies that end up sleeping 12 hours in 12 weeks are the exceptions to the rule. Of the more than 2 dozen new parents I’ve talked or heard talk about their babies’ sleep patterns, not one, not a single one has ever had a baby who’s slept for 12 hours at 12 weeks and continued to sleep for 12 hours for after 12 weeks. Furthermore, not only did the parents probably have nothing to do with the babies getting to those hours, but not every baby even needs 12 hours during the night at 12 weeks. Even if a baby does clock in 12 hours at some point before or at 12 weeks, he or she will likely not maintain these hours when a growth spurts come rolling down the calendar. For instance, at 10 weeks, Baby just suddenly decided one night to sleep 11 hours. Just like that. I was used to getting up at least twice a night to feed and then one night he just slept right through his feeds. And then he did it again the next rest of the week. I raised the roof to a Talib Kwali anthem, my engorged breasts bouncing stiffly, me hollah-ring in my head: “12 hours in 12 weeks? Pulleeze. Take 10 hours in 10 weeks, bee-atch!”

2. When finally deciding to Ferberize Baby, he had managed to cut down to 1 feed at night after holiday travel that wreaked havoc on his sleeping habits–he had been sleeping 10 hr/night but then returned to waking up every 3 to 4 hours at night and could not nap for more than 30 min.

It’s hard to describe the despair and maddening frustration that comes from suddenly getting sleep and then not getting sleep. It’s almost like getting your arm back in the mail with no return address after living without one for three months. You were prepared to live with only one arm for a while but this package gets dropped at your door and you think, ‘Well, I mean, since it’s here and all, I might as well use it.’

And you remember how wonderful life was having two arms: washing your hair, driving, hugging, wearing tops with sleeves and seeing your hand at the end of it. And then you wake up one morning, go to reach for your glasses and your arm isn’t reaching because it gone stolen in the middle of the night. WTF. To make a long sleep amputation story short, Baby’s sleep did improve slowly after getting back to Boston. A couple of weeks upon our return, he went from 3 feeds/night to 2 feeds and then more recently, to 1. How did I do it? No idea. What did I do differently? Nothing. I can only assume that the routine I’d created finally sunk in through the slow osmotic process of repetition.

3. I used Ferber’s latest edition of his book published in 2006.

4. I chose not to eliminate his one feed a night while sleep training him. I wasn’t prepared to get rid of that last feed yet, my reason being that he’s still not 5 months old and I felt that tackling his sleep associations and teaching him how to fall asleep on his own was enough for me to deal with. But by teaching him to fall asleep on his own meant that once I fed him, I could put him in his crib right away with no late night rocking sessions that used to exhaust me and my patience. I could put him in his crib awake at any time of the night that he woke up, feed him, and he would fall asleep on his own within minutes with minimal fussing.

5.Ferber suggests starting with 3, 5, 10 for the first night, but he also gives parents’ room to determine the times they are comfortable waiting so long as they get progressively longer.

6. After reading about sleep phases in Ferber’s book, I realized that the late night wake ups that would last for 2 hrs was because I was putting the baby to bed too early and expecting him to sleep 13 hrs. He’s actually need only 11 to 11.5 hrs. So in order to keep the same wake up time of 7-7:30AM, I had to push the bedtime to 8PM from 6:30PM. As soon as I did that, he no longer stayed awake in the middle of the night.

7. I forgot to record how long he cried before falling asleep for his 2nd nap.

8. I try to make sure the baby naps 3 times a day for a total of 4 hours. Ferber’s book says a 3 month old averages about 4.5 hours/day time sleep spread out for 3-4 naps. At 6 months, 3.25 hrs/day spread out over 2-3 naps. Since Baby is 4 months I try to average around 4 hrs/day spread out over 3 naps. I’m not always successful, sometimes only getting in 2 naps and/or 3-3.5 hours. I make sure never to let him get more than 4 hours a day since I don’t want any of his night time sleep to be had during the day. I will actually wake him up if letting him continue to sleep will mean more than 4 hours of nap time. I don’t have a strict “no naps after x hour,” rule. However, Ferber talks about the “Forbidden Zone,” which is a stretch of a few hours in the evening when it is people are the most awake in the span of the entire day and sleep is impossible. If you try to put your baby to sleep during his forbidden zone, you’ll just be setting up your baby for failure and a whole lot of unnecessary crying. So I try to note when this time starts. For Baby, it’s around 5:30-7PM. During these hours, I don’t dare try to make him nap.

9.I do the exact same sleep routine for his naps as I do in the evening, minus the bath, that is, song and story. I pull down the shades in his room and then I sing him a song, just one. Then I read him a story. After the book I’ll cradle him as I walk towards the crib and whisper that it’s his nap time and then I put him in his crib. I sleep him on his tummy so I’ll put him down on his belly and put his blanket over him and then say, “Go to sleep,” give him a kiss, and walk out. You can do whatever routine you want but you want to have a routine, a set of signals that your baby will begin to associate with sleeping so that he knows what’s coming.

10. I pay really close attention to the baby around his nap times to be sensitive to signs of fatigue. He usually starts to get tired after being awake for about 2-3 hours. It varies that much. Sometimes it’s 2 hours (usually before his first nap in the morning), sometimes it’s 3 (usually before his second nap in the afternoon). He will yawn or sit still for a while or his blinking is slower or he’ll rub his eyes. As soon as I see a sign, I start his sleep routine. I think this one might be the most important thing you can do to make sure your attempt to Ferberize your baby is successful: you have to find out what your baby’s bedtime and nap times are. For instance, before Ferberizing him, I used to bounce Baby for about 15-30 min before he finally fell asleep around 8pm. If I fed him his last meal too early, say 7:15pm hoping that he’d be asleep sooner, then I would end up bouncing longer before he finally settled down. In other words, his bedtime was around 8pm regardless of when I fed him. Once I started Ferberizing, I tried to put him down at 8pm and no sooner. This way I gave him the best chance of putting himself to sleep because he would be primed for it.

11. Ferber, Richard. Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. New York: Fireside, 2006. Print. 75.

31 thoughts on “I Ferberized My Kid

  1. Hairee, I have to tell you, this post was a godsend to me the other night. We finally broke down and Ferberized Xavier. I’d been reading Ferber, and Weissbluth, and this other woman who has written extensive articles against the aforementioned people, and in a fit of desperation, we just kind of started Ferberizing, and 10 mins in, realized we were going to go for it. 45 mins. in, a crying mess, I brought up your blog post (which I remembered reading when you first posted it) and read it over and over. I took a lot of strength from knowing it worked out for you. And 90 mins in, Xavi finally stopped crying and went to sleep. It was rough, but since then, he’s been a great sleeper with the exception of a few naps here and there. NO MORE CRYING! 🙂 SO! Thanks for the post! I’ve been quietly enjoying your blog but felt I had to write this time, since it basically helped me get through one of the roughest nights ever.

    1. Hi Mary! I’m so glad the post helped and that’s so great your little one is now sleeping well. I totally understand how tough it can get listening to the baby cry and cry. I questioned every word I read in Ferber’s book and every resolution I made before Ferberizing at least a couple of hundred times per night. But we both got through it and woohoo! sleeping babies. And thanks for writing to let me know. It’s so encouraging. 🙂

  2. In the search for strength while ferberizing my own 5 month old baby girl, I came across your post. I was relieved to hear someone share the same doubts and frustrations that I was experiencing, that I am experiencing. We did this a few weeks ago and we got to the point where she would go in her crib and sleep without crying. However, after a few night wakings that didn’t go as smoothly, we became a little more lax with the process. Then, while being alone at home with baby (while hubby works), it became difficult to hear her cry for a half hour, so I would pick her up. Like you, I would question- “well, maybe she’s not really sleepy, maybe I read the signs wrong.” “Do I even know what I’m doing? No.”

    Another issue was that I would rock her just a little right before putting her in the crib and this progressively got longer, as she took longer to get drowsy. Then I would dance around a little with her on my chest and it just felt so nice! At first I could put her down without her crying, but this progressively got worse as well. Like you, I kept thinking, “well, this isn’t so bad. I actually enjoy this. I can do this for a while longer”. Lo and behold, there I was, back to square one.

    So, here we are on day two of sleep training again. This time I am resolved to stick with it. Luckily, I ask hubby for reassurance almost the entire time. There really should be some help available for this or they should tell you this at the hospital. I agree with you also- the book makes it sound very optimistic. I can’t imagine it’s that easy for anyone. If these babies were good sleepers, they wouldn’t be reading the book.

    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. It is giving me the strength I need to continue.

    1. Thanks so much for reading Jenny and your feedback. I’m glad the post was helpful. And good luck. FYI, I am so glad I sleep trained my baby. He sleeps like an angel almost 99% of the time barring illness and travel.

    2. Jenny, thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I’m so glad it helped! Sleep training is so tough! And I’m glad I was able to help in whatever way I did. I hope your little one is now sleeping like a baby, as they say. (Whoever came up with that phrase to describe sleeping soundly obviously showed up REALLY late to the party.)

  3. Hey, reading your story (i didnt even read it in full) gave me the confidendence to buy the evil Ferber book and try it out. It worked right away. Actually he falls asleep a lot quicker than with our half-baked ways to soothe him, before he kept tightening his rules of what was soothing him and we were losing more and more options. I am keeping detailed account for now, but it works well for him. He is only 3,5 month old, but I already had the feeling that he is developed enough to do it.
    I believe you shouldnt attach it to 3,4,5 etc months but see if the child has developed certain skills.

    He self soothes him with his thumb, that we trained him before and we put him on his tummy (before he was always on his back, to be able to be nursed back to sleep).

    Well, we are still at day 2 only, but it has been a lot of naps now and its going great. I didnt even stick to Ferbers minutes, I actually waited a little bit longer and sometimes i skipped it and yes he managed to fall asleep again on his own.

    Actually you gotta be patient.

    Before: Hours of assisted soothing up to and beyond everyones exhaustion

    First time it took 20-30 minutes of crying, i dont remember exactly because I was so exhausted that I fell asleep. Next time it was 7 minutes crying hard, 7 minutes crying soft, then 5 minutes crying hard, then some more minutes of `complaining`.

    I hope its going to continue like that. Thanks!!!

  4. Thanks for this blog! We are in middle of sleep training and even though our son has been sleeping better, he is still crying. We believe that he will get better and better, but I just cannot believe that he will go to sleep without crying. We are on Day 6. Hopefully we will follow your trend and one day, put him down and …. no crying! Crossing my fingers! You give me hope 🙂

    1. I know it seems the crying will never completely go away. It took us til the 10th day! I even stopped recording at day 9. But I think as long as the crying times just keep getting shorter and shorter overall then it has to stop at some point. Good luck!

  5. This is a great post that is preparing me for next week when we sleep train our 4 month old! You don’t mention nightime wakings and what you did then. Currently my son wakes up 5-6 times a night to nurse. Did you ferberize your son for all of his nightime wakings?

    1. Thanks for reading and I’m glad my post is helpful. Yes, I ferberized my son for all of his nighttime wakings. He was only waking up once a night, however, and I would feed him and then put him back in the crib awake and let him put himself to sleep. I’m not sure how I would handle 5-6 times a night of nursing. I don’t think your baby needs the calories that many times during the night so he’s probably nursing to help him fall asleep. Am I right? If you think this is the case, I would not probably not feed him at all for any of the wakings or just one and Ferberize for each of the wakings. That is going to be tough. Omg. In the middle of the night, my will power is almost nil. That’s why I continued to nurse my baby that one time a night even though I could have not fed him and just Ferberized him. I finally stopped feeding him that one time a night when he was 6 months when my husband finally had some time off and could be the one to go down and Ferberize him. I hope that helps!

      1. You’re totally right.. He needs to nurse to fall back asleep.
        I’m mentally preparing myself for next week!
        Thanks again!

  6. When is the best time to start sleep training? As in baby’s age? My babe is 2 mo old and I know I am falling into some of the same vices you mentioned (rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep, etc.). Is now too early to try, in your opinion? If so, how can I best set him up with good sleep habits?

    1. Ferber would say 2 mo is definitely too early to try sleep training. He says the earliest is 3 mo. I think before 3 mo, the theory is that babies are not able to self sooth and therefore it is perfectly fine, indeed, necessary for the caregiver to sooth the baby to sleep. If that includes rocking or nursing, then so be it.

      Personally, I would start preparing him for better sleep habits by feeding the baby at night only when he wakes up. Some parents feed the baby every2-3 hours even after 2 mo but that’s not necessary and in fact you should start to stretch out feed times after 2-2.5 mo. This way sleep times will expand at night. By the time I started sleep training my first baby at 4 mo, he was only waking up once a night to feed.

      Also aim for a first morning feed. As you near 2-2.5 mo, your baby will have a typical morning wake up time when he gets the first feed of the day. If he wakes a bit earlier, try to wait it out and/or see if he will fall back asleep. This will mean he probably will have a typical time for his last feed of the day before bedtime.

      Once these times are established, I think the sleep training will be much easier.

      I also found that long before sleep training, establishing a bedtime routine (bath, song, story, etc.) was important. It signaled to the baby that bedtime was near and it helps wind him down for the night. You can start this routine at 2 mo and get him/her used to it by 3 mo when you plan to sleep train.

      Hope this is helpful!

    2. It’s definitely too early at 2 mo according to Ferber. And I would agree with him. I think from 1-3 months old rocking and nursing a baby to sleep is actually a good idea if not necessary. They need help to sooth themselves and shouldn’t be expected to learn how to do this on their own at this age. I think what you should be doing now is to try to extend the time between feed in small increments. So if you’re baby has been eating every 2 hours during the day or nigh try to feed every 2.5 hours. Distract him with pacifier, rocking, tummy time, board books, play gyms, etc. This will help him sleep longer during the night and feed less often.

      By the time I sleep trained my first kid, he was waking up twice a night to feed but I noticed he wouldn’t feed very much, especially during the first wake up. This told me that he was only waking and feeding out of habit. Once he learned to fall asleep on his own, he dropped that first feed right away. I kept the one remaining night time feed for another couple of months only because he seemed to feed long enough that I would have to do the wait times with him to train him out of it and I just didn’t have the will power or discipline at that time of night to do it on my own. I waited until my husband got some time off and he ended up ending that final feed at night.

      So start extending the feed times. Keep rocking and nursing baby to sleep if that gets him/her to fall asleep and not worry about bad habits. And then when the baby is 3 to 4 months old, Ferberize him/her.

  7. Hello! Thank you so much for this blog. My little boy won’t fall asleep without nursing and I am preparing mentally to sleep train him. Am I right thinking you tackled both the naps and evenings at once? I am waiting for my copy of Ferber’s book to arrive in the post. Also, was your baby waking multiple times (some of which you knew he couldn’t be hungry?) And if so how did you tackle those? Thanks! (A great blog which freaks me out but helps to set my friend expectation: this is going to be so hard…)

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for this blog. My little boy won’t fall asleep without nursing and I am preparing mentally to sleep train him. Am I right thinking you tackled both the naps and evenings at once? I am waiting for my copy of Ferber’s book to arrive in the post. (A great blog which freaks me out but helps to set my expectation: this is going to be so hard…) Thanks again 🙂

      1. That’s right. I used the same routine (minus bath) for naps and evenings. And thanks for reading! Hope your sleep training isn’t too painful.

  8. Your blog is what gave me the courage to push through and ferberize my 4.5 month old baby after the same problem of having to nurse her to sleep-she would need me to stay next to her in bed the entire night to stay asleep. The second my nipple popped out of her mouth she would be awake. She woke up 7-8 times a night and I was awake practically the whole night terrified of moving and awakening her. I started ferberizing, which I am very pro so far for handing her the tools to learn to sleep on her own, not to mention freeing me up during nap/bed times so I can actually have a life, but am getting a little discouraged as well. After crying 1 hour the first night, 33 minutes the second, 28 the third, then 22nd the fourth, things started getting worse. The fifth night she cried 28 minutes, the sixth 33 and now the 7th she passed out after around 40 minutes of crying. I’m really hoping this is temporary and her crying time starts to decrease again, I just wanted to know if after night 10 things stayed good, or did regressions come and go? Any advice would be greatly welcome 🙂

    1. First of all, thanks for reading my blog and writing to me. Second, 7-8 times? Oh my. Okay let’s jump right in. I have questions: did you extend the wait time each day? What were the wait time on Day 3 and Day 4 and Day 5,6, and 7? Did anything in the bedtime routine change? Anything change at home? Are you tackling just evening sleep at the moment? Was her daytime sleep at all disrupted during the training period? If things are getting worse while you are doing everything the same, Ferber says to stop and try again in few weeks. Maybe she’s not ready. But it sounds like things were getting better. I found with my first kid that the better he slept during the day, the better he slept at night. So if there’s been poor naps or she’s napping in different places other than her crib, I would tackle that right away and at least during the training period, try to have her nap in her room for most if not all her naps. And for naps, you don’t have to train her at this point and leave her alone. But I would go through some sort of ritual, just as you should or are doing with bedtime. So a story and song, for instance, and you stay with her during the nap so that she actually does nap. Then at bedtime, you do the story and song and start the wait times.

      Please let me know if this is at all helpful and send me any followup questions if you have them.

      1. Thanks for your response! So, in the days since I first wrote in, her nighttime sleep has improved (knock on wood). She gets super sleepy 5:45 pm and on, but I try to push her to at least 6:30 before I put her down. She will roll around a bit, maybe whimper a little then on most days she will sleep within 20-30 minutes (But with minimal crying). If I get her down when she’s overtired, she cries for significantly longer. She’s exclusively breastfed and wakes up around 11:30-12:30 to eat, then again at around 4:30-5 and I usually can’t get her to sleep again after this feed. Bedtime routine and nap time routine are always the same, read a story, sing her a song then put her down with the white noise machine (can’t get myself to wean off that just yet). I’m doing ferberizing for both night time and nap times, I don’t think she would even be able to sleep with me rocking her to sleep anymore even if I were to break down and try (which I don’t think I will- I never want to go back to that haha!). She does have poor naps, but I don’t know how to remedy that… I’ll put her in her crib, after a 1.5 hr to 2 hr wake time, she will cry for 15-25 minutes and usually sleep but only for 20-40 minutes. It doesn’t feel worth the payoff. She then wakes up, and I oscillate between picking her up right away or letting her cry a little to see if she will go back to sleep which very rarely happens. And her new thing which has been happening over the past week or so is waking up every day at 4:30-5 AM. I really want her to wake up later but even when I’ve tried pushing her bedtime, she wakes up at the same time. So my main questions would be: For naptime, if she wakes up prematurely from a nap should I leave her to cry and if so for how long or should I just pick her up right away and consider that nap over? Is there any way to improve how much she cries at naptimes? And is there anyway to get her to wake up later ? I’m on day 14 of nap training so I don’t even know how long check in times should be in general I’ll go in around 25 minutes at night but rarely have to, and don’t go in at all during naps but if she hasn’t napped in 30 minutes I just pick her up. She’s 5 months old and currently sleeping in her crib in our room- I want to transition her to her room if she improves:) Thanks so much and sorry for the super long post!

      2. I think I would do what you’re doing with premature wake-ups from naps–give her around 10 min to see if she puts herself back to sleep. If she doesn’t go back to sleep just resume the day.

        The thing is naps can be really tricky in general. Ferber says to give a kid 30 min to fall asleep for a nap then to take them out and then let them sleep wherever they happen to be. So I would keep doing what you’re doing wrt missed naps. He also considers a nap anywhere from 30min-1.5hr. So even though 20-40min nap might be too short for you (I know how that feels!) I would still consider it a nap.

        As for early wake up, you said you tried to push her bedtime. When would you like her to wake up? It sounds like she goes to sleep at 6:30 and wakes up 10-10.5 hours later. This is pretty good amount of sleep. I’m assuming that she goes right back to sleep after her nighttime feeds.

        I have some questions: how far did you push her bedtime? When do you want her to wake up? If, say, you want her to wake up at 7am, then I would expect her bedtime to be 8:30-9 which would give her 10-10.5 hrs of nighttime sleep. You’d have to push gradually, 30 min a day, say. And If you do and she still wakes up at 4:30-5am then make sure she doesn’t make up the lost nighttime sleep during the day. She might be continuing to wake up early in spite of later bedtimes because she’s sleeping more during the day.

        Hope this helps!

  9. what an amazing post! I keep reading it over and over again trying to prepare for the Ferber journey. My son is 3 months old. He naps well but the nights are chaotic… His bedtime is 7pm ( after bath, feed, lullaby routine) and he eats up to 9oz!!! (I give him a bottle of my milk to keep track of intakes) But here is my issue: he wakes up at midnight, 3 am and 5.30am to eat again!! He consumes about 6oz each time. On top of it, he poops in between feedings… Do you think I should try to eliminate the night feedings all together? What do I do about dirty diapers happening 3 times a night? Thanks so much for all your thoughts!!

  10. I am on day 5 of sleep training the first day was the best I feel like its been getting worse ever since because I was not consistent enough. I am studying the book and probably should have read it before I started instead of during the sleep training process. One huge mistake which set me back i beliwve is on the second day I gave him a soother which I then realized was a mistake and promptly took away for the remaining of the sleep training. He doesn’t use it much during the day. Especially not when it’s time for bed because he had an association to nursing bottle feeding or sucking, I’m feeling so discouraged, my baby is one that was eating 5 times a night so I decided that on the ones that he would only eat two ounces I would not let him have food on those times. the first time I did this he fell back to sleep on hus own before I even had to check but then last night he cried for half an hour and I did all the checks are supposed to do. This is 5 days in . I’m going backwards. I picked him up during this check after 10 minutes of crying because he was crying so hard and I thought maybe he had to burp- he didn’t- on the next check I gave him tylenol because he’s teething and had been crying for the longest stretch thus far. So there’s two more inconsistencies. But it hurts my heart Especially in the middle of the night when I know if he just nurses for 5 minutes he would go back to sleep. I read your entire post and it does give me some hope, to know that it got worse for you due to inconsistencies but then it worked after 10 days. I’m thinking because he’s teething I shouldn’t have started this but through comments I’ve found that if you start over sometimes he could cry for hours and I couldn’t do that I would give up for sure do you have any advice?

    1. Sorry for responding so late! I have been pretty incognito on my blog since my second kid came along.

      It is SO hard to listen to them cry. I’ve sleep trained my second as well and he’s nearly 1 now and I still get wound up and incredibly bothered if he protests at night, even when it lasts for less than a minute. So I totally hear yeah about picking him up bc you thought he needed to be burped and etc. You just don’t know sometimes! And they cry so hard that you think something must be horribly wrong.

      Well, I think if you know your son is bothered by teething at night I would give him tylenol before putting him to bed as a matter of course for now while you train him.

      How old is your baby?

      If he’s younger than 5 months, maybe think about waiting til he’s 6 months. With my second son, I tried to train him starting at 4 mo. but he was not going for it. So I waited til 5 mo. It was tough going and then finally at 6 mo. it seemed to work. He was STILL crying out for me sometimes at 8 mo. Very different from my first kid.

      I would not worry about the 2 inconsistencies so much. I would try not to pick him up though. and if you think he needs a burp, maybe try sitting him up in crib and patting his back. Can he sit up by himself.

      But I think what’s making me think you are doing the right thing is that if he’s only nursing 5 min and goes back to sleep he is totally depending on the nursing as a sleep aid, not at all out of hunger.

      Getting up 5 times a night is so hard for you. cutting down to two and giving another dose of tylenol midway into the night during his one legitimate feed, I think would be a good idea.

      But if it just doesn’t seem to work and you are getting really stressed out, stop and take a break for 2 weeks and try again. Yes, sometimes they cry harder because they’ve learned that you will pick them up if they cry hard. But they can learn that you won’t pick them up too. Baby’s are super resilient. If he’s not hungry or has a dirty diaper or isn’t in pain from teething or sick, then you know he’s fine and he’s just protesting.

      And half an hour of crying in protest before falling asleep is okay. I know it feels like an eternity but it’s well within normal limits in my experience with my kids.

      Keep going and good luck!

  11. Hi your blog post really helped convince my wife and I that it was about time. The one thing we are worrying about is, will the crying ever stop?

    Our first night was 46 min of crying, then 34 on second night then 11.5 min on third night. Im writing this on the third night. Given you did this 2 years ago, when did it reach a point when your child stopped crying completely?

    1. Sounds like the training is working and it’s going great. I know that even though you are seeing improvement hearing your kid cry for even a minute seems like an eternity. I’ve trained both my kids now and my second one still protests some nights and my whole body tightens up and I can’t do anything until he stops and falls asleep.

      It took my first one about 10 days to stop crying completely. And there were a few times he cried a little but nothing over 5 minutes.

      With my second one, he was much harder to train. We tried at 4 mo. Nope. We tried again at 5 mo. and then it was a month long struggle with him. He finally seemed to get with the program at 6 mo. But he STILL protests sometimes, though they last for less than a minute and he’s not really crying but calling out very loudly and pretending to cry. He’s nearly a year old now.

      So I think you guys are right on track and doing just what you need to do. You’re baby seems to be learning to put him/herself to sleep.

      Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

      1. Hey Thanks so much for replying to a comment on a two year old blog post! She was fussy on night 4 and night 5 shot up in terms of amount of crying by last night was night 6 and her crying total was 1 min 45 sec! guess it was an extinction burst. sort of like what you encountered. Really great to bounce ideas off someone who’s been there and done that!

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