Sleep training (ferber method)(34 Posts)
Hello, I'm looking for some advice.
We've started sleep training our 6 month old daughter using the ferber method (check in on baby if crying at increasing intervals)
We're 3 nights in and also doing nap time training following same method.
She's been sleeping through the night without any problem since starting, once she's asleep (longest has been asleep after 40 min and me checking in about 4 times)
Naps seems to be harder to get her to sleep, but we're getting there.
I'm not enjoying it one bit but as we had to rock her / sing her / nurse her to sleep its time we do something about it.
My worry is this: she's always been a very happy baby, but since starting the training she now cries as soon as I walk into her bedroom with her. Especially once put down in her cot, she goes nuts. Last night during our bedtime routine she knew what was coming and started crying halfway through, even crying through her feed (bf). I'm worried she's now associating sleep/bedtime with crying/being alone/being sad.
Have any of you had this experience and is it something that goes away once the training is complete?
She also wakes up in a state - basically picking up where she left it when she finally drops off...
My plan is to see it through as I know it will only confuse her/make things worse if wet not consistent but I'm so worried the association...
Your stories and advice are very welcome!!
To be honest, your post tells you everything you need to know.
It is normal for babies to need to be held, rocked, cuddled, fed and comforted to sleep, long long beyond 6 months.
40 mins screaming is an age to a baby. Her body will be flooded with stress hormones. From your description, I'd say she's terrified, and now has bad associations with where she sleeps.
There's an overview of sleep training research here
Why do you need to stop soothing her?
Ferber coslept with his own children until they were well past school age. Just saying. He never had to live his own advice.
Thanks both for your very unhelpful comments!
Anyone with actual experience with this method who can reassure me or tell be about their own good&labs would be appreciated.
And thanks, I've had a quick read through and all this article has done, is reassure me that I'm doing the right thing; I've done my research beforehand, my child is 6 months old, doesn't have any other issues or underlying problems - the only thing we're trying to fix is the fact she needs me or my husband to rock her to sleep.
I'm an incredibly loving and nurturing mother, my daughter gets all the comfort, and attention she needs and then some. For you to insinuate anything else without knowing me is incredibly insulting.
As anyone going through whatever kind of sleep training, I'm curious to hear other parents' experiences.
But again, thanks for your comments...
OP, I'm sure it's not what you want to hear but no, it never got better with DS1, to the point where even long after we ditched the method at going to sleep time, he would still wake up going from zero to screaming bloody murder in two seconds flat. A lot probably had to do with his temperament and the fact it started at the start of separation anxiety time. I really regret it.
We're doing pick up put down with DS2 (7 months) which is slower but showing results 3-4 days in, and he is calmer in his cot now than he was before we started training.
Thanks Jassyradlett, great to hear a personal experience. I'm worried about it too, but also don't want to give up too soon. Everyone waves spoken to about it have said it was a great success, but like you said, it can depend so much on the child...thanks so much for your info!
So what you want is people to say what you are doing is absolutely fine and you keep going? Well sorry but few people will at 6 months old. For one at 6 months she has not yet grasped object permanence. Ie when she can't see you you're still there. So when you are out the room and she is crying she has no idea you are coming back. Leaving a baby to cry is not sleep training it's leaving them to cry. There are a million ways to get babies to sleep that can create positive associations and that don't upset you or her as much.
I have 3 dc I know exhausted believe me but honestly when you look back at this period and realise how short it is you will never ever rush you'd cuddled her less and let her cry it out more.
I did it with DD at 7 months old. She's 13 months now.
The first few nights went as you described, but then she just got the idea of bedtime and it was easy.
Naps were a little harder!! She would do what you describe, cry as I walked into the bedroom with her - not real tears, just a whingy cry. What worked for us (and still works for naps now!), is to put CBeebies or similar on a very low volume on the tv, hold her close in an upright position and gentle Bob and sway in front of the tv. She then chills out, relaxes against me, and then puts her head on my chest. I continue with the bob and sway until I'm confident she's sleepy, then carry her up the stairs still in the upright position with her head against my chest. When we get into her room (dark with white noise playing) I gently slip her into a tummy-to-tummy cradle position and put her into her cot after a few minutes. Some times she is asleep by the time I et downstairs and turn the monitor on, and sometimes she takes a few minutes of wiggling around - but she never cries anymore! (Unless she's teething or ill). It seems like a lot of work just for naps, but it's really not. Some days it take 5 mins from start finish, some times it takes 20 mins - but the end result is a nap.
People always get a hard time when it comes to sleep training, but it worked for us and now everyone in the house is well rested and happier
Sorry if my post is not clear - DD is awake when I put her in the cot! I'm not rocking her to sleep
But she can't get all the comfort and attention she needs if she's crying on her own for the best part of 40 minutes?
I'm not against gentle sleep training, but 6 months is far too young.
I cuddled DD to sleep until she was around eight months. At around eight months I tried to cuddle her to sleep and it wasn't working like it usually did. I decided to put her in her cot to see what would happen. She chatted away happily to herself for half an hour and then fell asleep. Six months is too young IMHO. According to the reading I've done self-settling is a developmental milestone like rolling, crawling etc that they can either do or not. DD 'got' it after leap 6 (see Wonder Weeks), so something obviously changed during that leap which meant she then had the ability to self-settle.
OP, the MN consensus is generally pretty anti any kind of controlled crying. I don't think you will get what you are looking for here.
Could you try a gentler method such as gradual retreat if CC is upsetting her so much.
I was thinking about this recently when I read this:
We did the Ferber book with twins 18 years ago. I can't remember exactly what age, I suspect more like 10 months. I was on my knees with exhaustion from coping with very premature twins by that point. It worked very well for us.
I do remember a few horrendous naps when we were not in our own home - at relatives, on holiday - but they were not the norm.
Our kids had amazing sleep from then on, it was even a bit of a pain that they never, ever had a lie in, they went down at a regular time and woke up at a regular time.
I do sometimes wonder if it was the right thing to do, but in general I think the benefits of very solid sleep patterns are huge for the child and for the parents. I don't think it's made them neurotic........
Thanks so much, mybreadiseggy. It's great to hear from someone else who's gone through it!
And to youmakemydreams, no all I want is to hear from parents who have experience with the Ferber method, good or bad. Someone else judging me for my parenting desicion a is NOT what I need, thank you very much.
We did it but I bought a two way baby monitor so when she started crying I would leave for 5 mins and then start talking to her to reassure her.
It worked on mine now she settles and self settles if she wakes in the night. Unless it's a nightmare (which has happened a couple of times). But then it's s different crying and I go in.
If I stayed and cuddled and rocked her to sleep from 6months we would still be doing it now.
But what works for one won't work on another.
We did the Dr Ferber method at 16 months with ds1, but only for night waking as he could already self-settle (he just figured that out by himself). It worked fairly easily and his temperament didn't change, but I wouldn't do it again, mainly as I'm now living abroad and here the advice is that that sort of older style controlled crying sleep training is no longer recommended. With ds2, we still pat him to sleep and to night wean dh co-slept with him for a week or so to avoid ds2 getting overly upset while he got used to not having milk. He was also 16 months when we did this.
I'm sorry, I'm from a different generation and I think 'sleep training' is cruel. If you were my daughter I'd advise you to show lovingkindness to your baby at all times, to keep her with you, to cuddle, lie down with her when she needs it, and to do everything you can to show her the world is a good place and the people in it care about her.
I appreciate that fashions in child-rearing change, but I expect that in years to come research will show that 'sleep-trained' babies have physical and mental 'scars' from the procedure.
You have put your faith in a 'method'. Surely, the only methods which are trustworthy are those which adhere closest to nature? How do orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas care for their infants? Elephants? Read Jean Leidloff's 'The Continuum Concept'.
Do I have any experience? Yes. A dd in her thirties who still speaks to me, and was raised according to Continuum principles, as far as possible. How do I know I was right (in our case, obviously, people's circumstances differ)? Because she raises her own dd the same way - never left to cry alone, ever.
Don't think of people offering an alternative as 'judging' you. They might be 'just saying', so that you know you have a choice.
The fact your Dd cries as soon as you enter her bedroom shows that the Ferber method isn't working for her.
6 months is a bit too young for it anyway.
I consider myself extremely lucky that my two love going to bed (3 and 15 months). But I also think I've worked hard in achieving it.
They were put down awake and if they cried went up within 2-3 mins. I have never left my two children to cry for too long because I think the more distressed they get, the harder it is to drift off. Now they both sleep through the night, have a good nap and I have no issues with bedtime.
I've never really understood why parents go to CC first when there are other much more gentler methods you can try. Surely CC should only be used as a last resort if you're absolutely on your knees from a baby waking every 45 mins for example. And after trying the kinder methods.
When I did CC, I left the room, sat at the top of the stairs and went in after 1 min to resettle her. Then the next time left her for 2 mins, then 3 mins etc. I never got passed 6 mins. People hear the words "controlled crying" and assume you are just leaving a baby to cry his/herself to sleep for long periods. That certainly wasn't the case for us....those final 6 mins were the longest 6 mins of my life, but as soon as my timer beeped to 6 mins, I went in, layed DD back down, rubbed her back, stroked her hair and by the time I got downstairs and turned the video monitor on, she was fast asleep!
* I want is to hear from parents who have experience with the Ferber method, good or bad*
I can help with that. I did this with my firstborn when she was 14 months old.
Having gone on to have 3 more children, with hindsight the problems were my own unrealistic expectations, not my firstborn's sleep.
I am now deeply ashamed that I felt the need to resort to such uncaring and nurturing parenting. She was over a year old too, not still at the tiny baby 6 months old stage. With DC2, DC3 and DC4 I was much gentler with their sleep training. I also had realistic expectations. All three were as babies and are as older children much better sleepers than DC1.
DC1 is now 11 years old. She slept with a light on and a door open until she was 10 years old. She gets frightened even now if she wakes and thinks she is alone (when it is quiet and dark after we've gone to bed). She is scared to go to the bathroom in the night. Are these things linked to her sleep training? I don't know, its a possibility.
I am ashamed of using the Ferber method.
The only aspect of the Ferber method that lead to long term positives is that I vowed never to get into the situation again where my children needed to cry. If nothing else it taught me to never have to do it again.
I feel saddened whenever I see parents suggesting crying methods for baby sleep. But there is an element of 'they knew no better' with firstborn children. The real anger and bitterness I have is for those who do not learn the lessons to do things differently with subsequent children, thus avoiding the need for harsh parenting like this.
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