The Ferber Method of sleep training babies, also known as Ferberizing or Ferberization, has been popular since the mid-80’s when Dr. Richard Ferber wrote his book, and for good reason. It is a very structured approach and provides a clear path for parents to follow. For those of us who need very specific guidelines, this can work very well, so if you choose to Ferberize your baby or toddler, you are in good company! When done correctly, Ferberization can be very effective, and often, many babies are able to make good strides in improving their sleep in just a few short days. Like with many sleep coaching methods, however, there is always a risk that things may not go smoothly. To help make sure you and your little one are set on the path for success, we are going over the 5 things to do before you Ferberize your baby:
- Get a clean bill of health
- Optimize your baby’s schedule
- Develop consistent bedtime and naptime routines
- Set the stage to Ferberize
- Get support during Ferberization
1. Get a clean bill of health (for your baby AND for you!):
It is always best to get a clean bill of health from your child’s doctor before changing their routine in a big way, like starting sleep training. This will not only allow you to put your mind at rest and but also give you the chance to evaluate and have the opportunity to address any medical issues. Since there are some medical conditions that can cause, or at least contribute in part to, sleep issues, including food allergies, reflux and sleep apnea, it is always best to rule these out before embarking on sleep training. Your health is important too, and sleep training a baby is no easy task! So make sure that you are well enough to guide your baby through this incredible journey.
2. Optimize your baby’s schedule:
We do talk about baby sleep schedules A LOT, that is true. But, this is because they are very important! Trying to sleep train a baby who is not tired enough to sleep is no easy task, and sleep training an overtired baby may be even worse. So, it will be key to fine tune your baby’s schedule and make sure that you get as close to their “goldilocks zone” as possible. For some families, it can be really helpful to keep a sleep log for a week so you can track your little one’s sleep patterns. If you continue to keep the log during the coaching process you can also see where your little one’s sleep has improved!
3. Develop consistent bedtime and naptime routines:
If you haven’t developed a sleep routine already, this a great time to start! Babies and young children thrive on routines, and these predictable steps you do every time before sleep will go a long way towards building the consistency they need to learn to sleep independently. Routines don’t have to be a long, drawn-out process, and it’s perfectly fine to keep it simple. It is the predictability which will help to set their expectations. Check out this article for tips on creating your ideal sleep routine.
4. Set the stage to Ferberize:
Setting up the perfect sleep space won’t be a magic bullet to getting your baby to sleep, but it is important to plan out your strategy, and have some tools to help you along the way. For example, if you have older children and are worried that your little one may wake them or vice-versa, it would be helpful to consider white noise machines for everyone. If you may be worried about staying consistent when your little one is crying, investing in a video baby monitor can be helpful so you are able to see them during the coaching. If you are planning on adding a musical toy like an aquarium or mobile to your routine, this is the time to introduce it.
5. Get support during Ferberizing:
In our 10+ years of experience working directly with tens of thousands of families, we know consistency is the most difficult part of sleep coaching. I recently spoke with a mom who was able to make a lot of progress with her daughter’s sleep at bedtime using the Ferber method, but was not able to reach all of her goals because she was too tired to stay consistent during the rest of the night! I know that a lot of us don’t have family nearby, but this is the time to reach out to your support team – your village. Being able to stay consistent during the training process will determine whether you are able to succeed in reaching your goals. So, get your spouse or partner or dearest friend on board, and make sure everyone knows their parts. If you have a demanding job, consider taking a few days off, or if you have another child to take care of, see if grandparents or aunts can help for a day or two. This is the time to reach out to your village! And if you ever feel stuck or unsure, we have an amazing team of expert sleep consultants right here. We love each and every family we work with and feel privileged being an extension of your village.