I know there’s a lot of differing opinions in the parenting world when it comes to sleep training but I also believe that across the board parents want their babies to sleep and, in turn, to get a good night’s sleep themselves. So, I want to share with you the method that worked with all three of my children. Our pediatrician recommended it at our first child’s 4-month check up. It is commonly known as the Ferber method, or the “Cry it Out” (CIO) sleep method.
Tip: It’s best to start around 4 months, at this point your baby is ready to start sleeping 10 hour stretches on their own. Also, at 4 months babies are not usually teething, which can cause disruption to their normal sleep patterns. Each baby is different, so don’t panic if it doesn’t work right away, they will eventually catch on.
When you are dealing with a screaming baby you don’t want to be sifting through a 300-page book trying to find the information you need, so I’ve condensed the Ferber method down to 7 steps to get you through your sleep training.
7 Steps to Sleep Train Your 4 Month Old:
- Establish nighttime routine (feeding, bath, stories, then maybe a song or two in a darkened room). It’s important to feed first so that the baby doesn’t fall asleep while feeding. They need to learn to fall asleep without milk, otherwise they will become dependent on it to fall asleep and tend to wake up sooner.
- Settle baby in crib, say goodnight and leave the room.
- If your baby cries, wait one minute then go in and speak very softly to them reassuring them you are there. Gently pat them, but do not pick them up. Say goodnight and leave the room.
- If the crying starts up again, wait a full 5 minutes before going in and repeat step 3 except do not touch them this time, just speak gently and calmly, reassuring them that you are there. Leave the room.
- If your baby continues to cry wait a full 10 minutes before going back in and repeat step 4, only reassure them from the doorway instead of over the crib. Leave the room again.
- Wait 15 minutes before going in again. Reassure from the doorway and leave again.
- If your baby is still crying wait 20 minutes, then 25, then 30 until they fall asleep.
This sounds easy enough, right? Well it’s definitely not easy, but it can be extremely effective if you stick with it. Giving up part way through teaches the baby that if they cry long enough you will come. Try to avoid teaching them bad habits that will lead to more restless nights. So, set your timer, find a quiet corner of your house (or yard) and sip on your Mommee Coffee while you wait.
One last thing to remember, you are not a horrible parent for letting your child cry themselves to sleep, you are helping them develop positive sleep habits. You are also not selfish for wanting your child to sleep through the night. Babies who are well rested at night tend to be happier during the day and learn to nap better too. Teaching your baby how to self-soothe and fall asleep on his or her own is helpful for everyone. And, many parents who try this method have babies who fall asleep on their own and sleep longer in a week or less, so don’t give up!