What is the Ferber Method?

· May 2, 2018
The Ferber method helps babies get to sleep on their own. In this article, we'll look at the pros and cons of this method, and how to implement it at home.

One of the biggest concerns of new parents is getting their children to sleep well. One solution is the Ferber method, created by Richard Ferber, founder of the pediatric Sleep Center at Boston’s Children’s hospital.

The method forms the basis of Ferber’s book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.

What is the Ferber Method?

The Ferber method helps babies establish a sleep routine. Part of the method consists of allowing children to learn how to get to sleep on their own.

One of its recommendations is that parents should leave their baby alone in the crib. Even if the child cries, parents shouldn’t go to them immediately, to avoid interrupting their newly-formed sleep habits.

Richard Ferber has studied sleep habits in children for over 20 years. His main aim has been to implement a technique to treat sleep disorders in children.

The Ferber method explains by 3–5 months of age, babies are physically and emotionally ready to begin sleeping alone.

To begin with, parents should help their little ones get into a sleep routine. A relaxing bath or gentle massage before bedtime is ideal, for example.

What is the Ferber Method?

Ferber describes this method as effective, but admits it isn’t simple to apply. The results can be seen in a few days to a week, although the method doesn’t work for all children.

For parents interested in applying this method, Richard Ferber’s book contains a wealth of advice.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Ferber method

Many people consider the Ferber method to be somewhat cruel, however. For many parents, it’s not easy to ignore a crying baby.

Other families, meanwhile, find this practice useful in establishing healthy sleep habits from an early age.

It’s difficult to say what is the best way of getting a baby to sleep. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of this method.

Advantages

  • The Ferber method may help your baby get more sleep. 
  • Children pick up the habit of getting to sleep all by themselves from an early age.
  • Once your baby is in an established routine, they’ll make fewer demands on you at bedtime. This gives parents some well-earned time off in the evening.
  • This method helps children learn to self soothe, without outside help.

Disadvantages

  • Some people consider that this kind of method could damage the bond between parents and child.
  • Your child’s self-esteem could be affected.

Other ways to get your baby to sleep

Some child development experts have questioned the Ferber method. Crying for prolonged periods may be stressful for babies, as well as difficult for parents to ignore.

What is the Ferber Method?

Many parents look to less rigid options to help their baby get enough sleep. Here are a few other tips for getting your baby to sleep:

  • Keep your baby entertained and occupied during the day so they don’t fall asleep. This will mean they’re tired enough to drift off easily at bedtime.
  • When you feed your child or change their diaper during the night, try not to stimulate them. Don’t wake them up if you can avoid it.
  • If your baby is tired, put them to bed in their crib or bassinet even if they’re still awake. By doing this, you’ll help your child get used to the place where they sleep. This ensures they won’t need you to rock them to sleep in your arms every night.
  • If your baby wakes up crying, wait a few minutes before picking them up. Go and see if there is anything that could be bothering them, but avoid making too much noise or turning on the light.
  • Give your baby a bath in warm water before bedtime. This will help them relax.
  • Rocking your child and singing to them before you put them to bed helps, too. Hearing you sing a lullaby stimulates the release of oxytocin. This hormone leads to feelings of wellbeing and serenity.

Whether or not you decide to try the Ferber method will depend on your baby and your family.

This technique can help little ones learn to get to sleep without help, but it can also be difficult for parents.