How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night Using the Ferber Method

  • By: Gian
  • Date: June 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Sleep training is a popular way to help babies sleep through the night. The goal of sleep training is to help your baby learn how to soothe herself back to sleep without relying on you. This can be a challenging process, but with patience and perseverance, it can be successful.

One of the most popular sleep training methods is the Ferber method, also known as graduated extinction. This method was developed by Richard Ferber. The technique involves allowing a baby to cry for short periods of time, gradually increasing the intervals between cries.

What Is the Ferber Sleep Training Method?

The Ferber method’ progressive waiting approach was developed by Richard Ferber who is the founder and former director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston.

It is a variant of extinction sleep training that helps many babies learn to soothe themselves to sleep. According to Ferber, babies should be left alone to learn how to soothe themselves, with periodic comfort from the parents.

Normally, babies would want their parents’ help falling asleep. So, the basic idea is to let the baby sleep after crying for a short period of time, then gradually increase the interval between check-ins.

For example, on the first night, you would wait 3 minutes before responding to your baby’s cry. The goal is to let children cry and teach children to self-soothe so that they can fall asleep on their own.

The Ferber method, otherwise known as graduated extinction, has been shown to be effective in helping babies learn to sleep without waking up at night, and it is often recommended by pediatricians. And while it can help solve your child’s sleep problems, it’s important to set realistic expectations.

How to Help Your Child Fall Asleep With Ferber Method

Nighttime sleep training can be difficult emotionally, but the steps of the Ferber sleep method are simple and straightforward.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose a book or recording to help your baby relax and fall asleep.
  2. Put your child to bed when they are drowsy but still awake.
  3. Tell your baby goodnight. Leave your baby’s room as she falls asleep on their own.
  4. Check-in on them periodically, but do not pick them up or interact with them unless they are crying.
  5. If your baby cries, wait for a few minutes before entering your child’s room then comfort her briefly with gentle pats and a soothing voice.
  6. Parents leave the room and come back in increasingly longer intervals. Reassure her each time you come back. This teaches babies to self-soothe during night wakings.

How Long Does the Ferber Method Work?

When you sleep train a baby, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each baby will respond differently, but in general, you can expect the crying to lessen gradually over on the third or fourth night. And eventually, your baby will fall asleep without your assistance as she learns how to self-soothe.

Some babies will take to night sleep training right away and others may cry for the full three nights before they start to improve. Additionally, you might experience some minor setbacks which are part of the learning process. This is why it’s important to understand that there is no correct way to sleep train a baby, and what works for one family may not work for another.

However, if you are consistent with your approach and remain patient, most babies will eventually learn to sleep through the night and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

When Can You Start the Ferber Method?

The Ferber sleep training program is typically most successful when started around 6 months old before your baby is fully mobile. This age is ideal because your baby is old enough to understand the concept of sleep, but not yet mobile enough to be able to get out of their crib or playpen.

Is Ferber Method Harmful to Your Baby?

The Ferber method or graduated extinction is not appropriate for young infants. Young babies need to feed at night because they are still developing their sleep-wake patterns. As a result, they are not able to self-regulate their sleep like older babies and toddlers.

In addition, the Ferber method can be stressful for both babies and parents. Controlled crying can lead to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This can cause babies to become more distressed than they were before. This may include more frequent and intense crying, protests, and tantrums.

For these reasons, it is best to avoid the Ferber method for babies younger than 6 months old and instead focus on creating a supportive and calming bedtime routine.

When to Stop Ferber Method?

The Ferber method can be a great way to help your baby sleep through the night. However, if after a week or two of using this method your baby hasn’t made much progress, it might be time to try something else such as faded bedtime. It could be that she’s just not a good candidate for the Ferber method, or it could be that there are other underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Either way, it’s important to consult with your child’s pediatrician to get some guidance on other sleep training options and professional medical advice on what might be best for your baby.

Ferber Method Chart Table

First CheckSecond CheckThird CheckSubsequent Check
Day 13 minutes5 minutes10 minutes10 minutes
Day 25 minutes10 minutes12 minutes12 minutes
Day 310 minutes12 minutes15 minutes15 minutes
Day 412 minutes15 minutes17 minutes17 minutes
Day 515 minutes17 minutes20 minutes20 minutes
Day 617 minutes20 minutes25 minutes25 minutes
Day 720 minutes25 minutes30 minutes30 minutes

Training Tips for Ferber Sleep Training Success

Dr. Ferber’s method is one of the most popular techniques for sleep training, and it’s also one of the most effective in helping babies fall asleep on their own.

But in order for it to work, you need to be consistent. That means sticking to the plan, even when it feels like it’s not working or when your child cry it out for a few minutes. It can be tough, especially on the first or second night. But if you stick with it, you will see results.

Typically, babies who are sleep trained using the Ferber method will start sleeping through the night within a week or two.

Here are other tips to make the Ferber method work:

  • The Ferber Method works best if you establish a consistent bedtime routine. Having a bedtime routine can help your baby learn what to expect each night. This helps set their internal clock. Activities like bathing and reading can help your baby relax before bed.
  • When you start sleep training, make sure that everything is calm. That means that your baby is not sick and is not teething. If you have a new babysitter or if you are going back to work, wait until those things have calmed down. Avoid sleep training while you’re on vacation.
  • It is best to place your infant in the crib when they are still awake but drowsy. If you put them to bed when they are already asleep, they will not recognize their surroundings when they wake up and it will be harder for them to soothe themselves.
  • Wean nighttime feedings gradually. If you sometimes respond to your baby’s cries by going in and giving her a night feeding, it will be harder for her to get the hang of sleep training. If your child wakes in the middle of the night for night feedings, wean your baby off this habit gradually. However, keep in mind that night weaning when your baby isn’t ready yet might lead to poor health.
  • Incorporating the Ferber method for naps can help create a consistent sleep routine. Most nap times should happen in your baby’s crib, which will give you plenty of extra shuteye while sticking with what works best for the baby.
  • To make sure the sleep training process goes smoothly, it’s important that both parents are on board. You’ll also want to have your partner check in on the baby occasionally in the middle of the night. This way, you can both you and your partner can provide support to each other during the first few nights which can be tough.

The Bottom Line on Ferber Method of Sleep Training

The Ferber sleep training method is a behavioral infant sleep intervention that has been around for many years. It can be an effective way to help your baby learn how to sleep through the night, but it’s not without controversy.

Some parents find it difficult to follow the guidelines and feel guilty about leaving their child to cry alone.

If you decide to try the Ferber Method, be sure to set realistic expectations and give yourself plenty of time to stick with it.

FAQs on Ferber Method of Sleep Training

How Long Do Babies Cry With Ferber Method?

The Ferber method is a sleep training technique that involves progressively waiting to respond to your baby’s cry. On the first night of sleep training, you can let your baby cry for 3 minutes before responding the first time.

As the training progresses, you gradually increase the amount of time you let your baby cry before responding. By the end of the training, you may let your baby cry for up to 30 minutes before responding.

Does the Ferber Method Help Fix Pediatric Sleep Disorders and Other Child’s Sleep Problems?

So, can the Ferber method solve your child’s sleep issues? Ferber method’s progressive waiting teaches children self-soothing and solves specific infant sleep problems caused by parent-led sleep associations. Some children learn to associate certain things with sleep, like being rocked or nursed to sleep or sleeping next to a parent and these conditions are called sleep associations.

However, the Ferber sleep training method doesn’t solve any child sleep problems caused by an underlying medical condition. These child’s sleep problems should be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.

Additionally, the Ferber method doesn’t address separation anxiety and nighttime terrors.

This article was written by: Gian MIller – Full-Time Writer, Baby Whisperer & Dad of 3.

Gian spends a lot of his time writing. A self-proclaimed baby whisperer, Gian has been through it all with his own children and is passionate about sharing his hard-won wisdom with other parents. When he’s not writing or changing diapers, you can find him playing the guitar or watching baseball (or preferably both at the same time).