Sleep Training For Babies Explained Using The Ferber Method

Babies can be a difficult bunch to handle in a lot of aspects.

From picking the right items to add to your baby registry, to changing diapers, a lot of effort goes in just to see our little one smile and be happy. One aspect that can also be a headache to many parents is solving your child’s sleep problems.

Sleep training for babies is gaining popularity and many parents are taking advantage of this to put their children to sleep. One popular method used is the Ferber sleep training method that involves charts, intervals, and progressive waiting when making your baby fall asleep.

Parents may want to try the Ferber sleep training method, but a lot is involved to make sure the Ferber method works.

This article covers the Ferber method extensively and gives all the information needed to start the Ferber method so your baby falls asleep in a smooth and seamless manner.

Keep reading to see all you need to know about one of the best ways to sleep train your baby to sleep at your will.

After reading this, your baby sleeping through the night without any disturbance to your sleep would finally be a reality.

What Is The Ferber Sleep Training Method?

Developed by Richard Ferber who doubled as a pediatrician and director of the Center For Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Richard Ferber published a bestselling book with the title, “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” in 1985.

In the book, he explained in detail, his method of sleep training that needed babies to cry for a specific amount of time before making the baby sleep.

This method would help develop a proper bedtime routine and form healthy sleep associations to reduce crying as much as possible.

This form of sleep training, later known as “graduated extinction” has been in use for over three decades. The Ferber sleep training method allowed babies to fall asleep if they woke up during sleep through the night.

This sleep training method by Richard Ferber is somewhat similar to another sleep training method called the “cry-it-out method.

The vital difference between the Ferber method and the cry-it-out method is that the Ferber method involves checking on your baby at certain intervals, while the other method allows for prolonged crying with no checks.

How Do You Use The Ferber Method?

Also known as Ferberization or graduated extinction, this method of sleep training entails allowing your baby to cry.

During this period of crying, there would be check-ins at certain intervals. Following each night, the check-ins get longer, and this is what Ferber called the “progressive waiting approach”.

Below are the simple straightforward steps of the Ferber method for sleep training to make your baby fall asleep independently;

1. Place your baby in his or her crib. Your baby may be displaying signs of sleepiness, but would still be awake.

2. Leave your baby in the room and go about your usual proceedings.

3. If your baby begins crying, wait for the amount of time in the chart below. You can pat your child on the back or say soothing words to them, but DO NOT PICK OR FEED THE CHILD.

4. Leave the room and repeat the check-ins at certain intervals if your baby keeps crying. Ensure you keep reassuring and patting your baby during the crying episodes, but never pick or feed them.

Here is the Ferber sleep training chart;

Day 1

  • First check-in after 3 minutes
  • Second check-in after 5 minutes
  • Third check-in after 10 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 10 minutes

Day 2

  • First check-in after 5 minutes
  • Second check-in after 10 minutes
  • Third check-in after 12 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 12 minutes

Day 3

  • First check-in after 10 minutes
  • Second check-in after 12 minutes
  • Third check-in after 15 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 15 minutes

Day 4

  • First check-in after 12 minutes
  • Second check-in after 15 minutes
  • Third check-in after 17 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 17 minutes

Day 5

  • First check-in after 15 minutes
  • Second check-in after 17 minutes
  • Third check-in after 20 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 20 minutes

Day 6

  • First check-in after 17 minutes
  • Second check-in after 20 minutes
  • Third check-in after 25 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 25 minutes

Day 7

  • First check-in after 20 minutes
  • Second check-in after 25 minutes
  • Third check-in after 30 minutes
  • Subsequent check-in after 30 minutes

Following these times can be a bit stressful, so parents can make use of timers for better timekeeping. In some instances, the intervals can be tweaked a bit for each parent and their baby.

What Is The Point of The Ferber Method?

The point of the Ferber method is to use a sleep training method that would help your baby create a sleeping routine themselves.

There is also the part about helping your baby learn to fall asleep independently without help from the parents or guardians.

Another point of this sleep training method is teaching your baby to sleep in longer stretches, leading to longer naps.

How Long Is Too Long For Crying?

There is no laid down period that is too long for crying when using the Ferber method on your baby. If you notice a change in tone of their cry, check up on your child via a smart baby monitor.

You could also take your child to a pediatrician that handles sleep disorders for babies. It might be a case of acid reflux, or something else that the parent would normally never detect on their own.

What Is The Major Difference Between The Cry-It-Out Method of Sleep Training And The Ferber Method?

In The Ferber method, you visit the baby at certain periods of time and pat them on the back or say some soothing words to comfort the child.

In the cry-it-out method, you stay out of the room completely while your baby is crying.

How Early Can You Use The Ferber Method?

You can use start sleep training your baby with Ferberization starting anywhere from four months of age during what is called the four-month sleep regression.

The optimal age is usually around 6 months old, while some parents could wait till a year has passed to commence.

Since no two babies are the same, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach and graduated extinction may not work the first time you try it.

You can speak with a sleep consultant if you experience difficulties making your baby fall asleep.

How Long Does The Ferber Method Take On The First Night?

The Ferber method takes three minutes on the first night, while the next interval would be five minutes followed by ten minutes.

The intervals would subsequently increase with each passing night with the second night having different waiting periods from the first night.

The second night would have different check-ins from the first night The first of the check-ins would be five minutes, followed by ten minutes, then twelve minutes.

Feel free to refer to the Ferber method after the brief introduction for how the check-ins work for each day of the week.

How Long Does It Take The Ferber Sleep Training Method To Work?

As no two children are the same, the Ferber method used to put your child to sleep would vary.

Most parents should expect to see the crying diminish gradually from the third night. Usually, by the seventh night, you can expect the cry of your child to have subsided for good.

How Many Nights Does The Ferber Method Take?

Most parents should expect to start seeing progress within the third or fourth night, but it is advised to continue till the seventh night.

Do You Feed Your Baby During The Ferber Method?

You should not feed your baby at all when using this method of sleep training.

Place the child in his or her crib depending on whether it is nap time or bedtime.

Do You Pick Your Baby Up During The Ferber Method?

Just like how you do not feed the baby when crying, you should not pick up the baby also.

The only thing you are allowed to do is pat the baby and reassure them verbally. Nothing more than that.

When Can You Start Sleep Training A Baby?

You can start sleep training your baby from four months of age

You can start sleep training a baby from four months to six months. Dr. Richard Ferber advises parents to go with five months when training their little one to go back to sleep independently.

Though some parents start at four months, babies less than four months of age should be left alone when it comes to sleep problems.

Newborns sleep a lot, and hardly wake up at midnight, hence the absence of sleep training for children three months of age.

Can You Use The Ferber Method For Naps?

Yes, you can use Ferber sleep training for naps also. You repeat the same steps as you would during bedtime, but if it does not work after thirty minutes, let it go.

No matter what happens, do not allow nap time to get too close to bedtime, as this may affect a baby’s ability to fall asleep later at night.

How Long Do You Let Your Baby Cry It Out For During A Nap?

Let your baby cry for five minutes or more until they eventually wear themselves out and fall asleep with no help.

At the start of cry-it -out or gradual extinction, you may have to give your baby about thirty to forty five minutes before they are able to self-soothe.

How Long Do You Let Your Baby Cry During The Ferber Method?

How long you allow your baby to cry depends on the day using the provided routine for putting your baby to sleep.

Most babies cry between thirty to one hundred and twenty minutes during the week when sleep training is started.

Is 4 Months Too Early To Sleep Train?

Four months is not too early but four months is usually not the optimal time. Most pediatricians would recommend six months and possibly up to a year before starting sleep training.

Sleep training can also be done for toddlers and preschoolers who still have sleep associations with their parents,

Can A 4-Month-Old Baby Use The Ferber Method?

The Ferber method can be used on a four-month-old baby. Four months is usually the earliest age at which sleep training can be started, as your child would have come out of the newborn phase.

Does The Ferber Method Affect The Baby?

The Ferber method does not affect the baby, as crying is not considered harmful to the baby.

Your baby crying for specific durations before bedtime will not lead to any form of damage in the short or long term.

Is The Ferber Method Damaging?

The Ferber method for sleep training babies has not yet proven to be damaging to either parent or child.

However, some have argued that the sleep deprivation and absence of affection by not feeding or picking up the baby may be somewhat cruel.

Tips To Follow When Using The Ferber Method

Here are some tips to follow when using the Ferber method on your child;

1. Desist from feedings during the night

Most mothers are used to late-night feeding, but falling asleep would be hard for your baby if you keep feeding them whenever they cry. Feeding could interrupt your baby’s ability to self-soothe and go back to sleep.

2. Create a bedtime routine and stick to it

Activities such as a bedtime story, a warm bath, and swaddling would help your baby unwind and be more relaxed leading to chances of easier sleep for your child.

If your activities leading up to bedtime end with feeding, move the feeding earlier up.

3. Watch out for your baby’s signs of sleepiness

Watch out for when your baby gives a cue displaying sleepiness like a yawn, or drowsiness. You want your baby to be at a point where she feels sleepy, but not too fatigued or exhausted.

Over exhaustion may lead to difficulty when your child tries to fall asleep, or worse still, waking up in the middle of the night.

4. Use the crib for naps and bedtime

During bedtime, the baby crib or cot is the most obvious place for your child to sleep. Co-sleeping is not advised, as this could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when one parent rolls over the child.

If your baby falls asleep outside areas other than his or her crib, getting your child of four to six months old to sleep in the crib might prove hard.

5. Ensure your timing is on point

Sleep training requires a lot from both partners, as there is the possibility of sleep deprivation on one or both parents. Make sure you fill your partner in on all the details and what should be done and not be done at each period of time.

Also, sleep training should not be done when your child is undergoing a big change. These could include teething or getting a new nanny. Fall back on sleep training then and resume later.

Other Sleep Training Methods

Other popular sleep training methods apart from the Ferber method include;

1. The Four S’s sleep training routine

Based on the book, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg, this training method encourages parents to look out for signs of tiredness in their child.

The four S’s are setting the stage, swaddling, sitting, and the shush-pat as the final stage.

2. The Pick Up Put Down Training Method

This method means you putting your baby to sleep and picking them up to comfort them once your baby wakes. Comfort them and pat them again till they are drowsy enough to sleep again.

3. The Fading Sleep Method

This involves the gradual withdrawal of a sleep association until the baby learns to self-soothe without assistance. If the baby slept when the mother ricked him or her for thirty minutes, the mother would gradually cut down rocking time.

4. The Chair Method

In this method, the parent or the guardian sits in a chair situated next to the baby’s crib until the baby falls asleep. This method works on the principle that you are reassuring the child that you will be there for them till they fall asleep.

5. The Three-Minute Drill Sleep Training Method

Although this sounds like something out of the military, it is quite easy to initiate. This sleep training method requires patience on the part of the parents and this is how it goes.

Drop the baby in the crib while they are still awake and leave the room. If the baby starts crying till the loudest level possible, give the baby 3 minutes. If the cry reduces or subsides within that three minutes gap, stop the timer.

Repeat this three consecutive times. If the baby is not asleep by the third try, you can go ahead and pick the baby up and soothe them.


Bringing your baby to sleep can be a tad difficult, but thanks to people like Dr. Richard Ferber, this has been made a lot easier.

Allowing your baby to cry to the point of exhaustion is normal, but the progressive waiting and check-ins help create a routine that works.

Be sure to follow the tips stated in the last section for consistency and chances of better results. Stay tuned for all things baby-related from your favorite baby blog in the whole wide world!