You may have heard of the Ferber Method of sleep training babies, also known as Ferberizing or Ferberization. This sleep coaching method comes from Dr. Richard Ferber’s book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.
Dr. Ferber’s method is very structured and provides a clear path for parents to follow. For those of us who need specific guidelines, this method can work well. If you choose to Ferberize your baby or toddler, you are in good company!
Ferberization can be very effective if parents approach is empathetically. We’ve seen many babies make great strides in improving their sleep relatively quickly. As with any sleep coaching method, though, preparing appropriately is an important first step. To help make sure you and your little one are on the path for success, we recommend your do these 5 things 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 allow you to put your mind at rest and give you the chance to evaluate and address any medical issues. Since there are some medical conditions that can cause or contribute 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 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’s 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. Offering predictable steps you do every time before sleep will go a long way towards building the consistency your baby needs 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 your baby’s 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, you may want to consider white noise machines for everyone. If you are worried about staying consistent when your little one is crying, invest in a video baby monitor 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! Unfortunately, she 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.