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Dr Richard Ferber Ferberizing

Dr Richard Ferber

Ferberizing has long been regarded as a controversial method, but it has been widely misunderstood over the years and, in truth, it’s not a million miles away from many popular sleep training methods. Richard Ferber’s book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems was originally published in the mid-eighties, but a revised, and slightly warmer, more relaxed version was brought out in 2006.

How it works: Ferberizing is often referred to as the ‘Crying It Out’ method, but contrary to popular belief, Ferber does not advocate simply putting your child to bed and leaving him to cry himself to sleep. He recommends a warm and loving bedtime routine, then put your baby in his cot, sleepy but awake, kiss goodnight and leave the room. If he cries, you wait a set amount of time before going back in, reassuring him with a pat and soothing words, but do not pick him up, then leave the room again, even if he is still crying. Wait longer the next time, and then repeat the process. Then extend the waiting time again the third time.

Ferber makes suggestions on how long you make the ‘wait’ gaps, but it’s up to you how long you make them. The theory is that your baby will learn that crying only gets a quick visit from you, and eventually he should learn to soothe himself back to sleep. Most parents say it works within a few days.

Might suit parents who: Are prepared to tough out the crying for quick results.

Might not suit parents who: Don’t want a method that involves leaving them to cry for more than a minute or two or aren’t prepared to be exhausted themselves for several nights in a row.

Best age to try it at: Three to six months. For more: Read Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr Richard Ferber.

Mums say: ‘We followed Richard Ferber’s advice for Jemima when she was six months and it worked like a dream. She’d sometimes wake 20 times a night and would only go to sleep in my arms. The first night, she woke at 4am and I fed her then put her down. As usual, she started howling. I left her for five minutes, then ten minutes, then fifteen minutes, several times. She finally fell asleep – without help – at 5.45am. The second night, she went down, without help and barely a whimper. She had a dream feed at 10pm, then slept through till 7am. This had never happened before. The third night was trickier and she was awake for an hour and a half in the middle of the night. But from the fourth night on, she was pretty much sleeping through. In just a few nights, she’d learned to self-settle. I could hardly believe it. It was like having a brand new baby.’ Georgina Jarvis, mum to Jemima, now three years.

Read Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr Richard Ferber