One of the most important things in getting your baby to sleep properly is for your baby to learn to sleep on his or her own. The reason it is so difficult for many parents – why parents of a newborn suffer from so many sleepless nights – is because your baby, at first, isn’t used to sleeping on his own, and when he wakes up in the night he cries for his mother: being in the presence of his mother is an only way he knows how to get to sleep. It is natural that this transition from sleeping with the mother to sleeping on his own will take some time for your baby. Many baby sleep tips involve setting up a strict nighttime routine, and introducing objects – such as stuffed animals – into the bed that your baby can associate with sleep. If you find after some months that your baby is still not able to sleep on his own, you can try what is known as the Ferber method.
Invented by Dr. Richard Ferber, the Ferber method is the most common way of weaning your child away from the mother, in terms of his sleep habits. It is usually successful within a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it is important that you choose a week when you can afford to lose some sleep to begin the Ferber method. Especially at the beginning of the process, the Ferber method does require that you spend a lot of time listening to your baby crying, and if you attempt it at a time when you are desperate to sleep, you run the risk of breaking down and allowing your child to sleep with you, or sleeping in the room with him. If you do so you risk undoing a lot of work that you will have put into the method.
The first night you attempt the Ferber method, put your child to bed as you normally do. Your baby should be tired but still awake when you put him to bed so that he is left to fall asleep on his own. After you leave the room, the baby will inevitably start crying. Allow him to cry for about 5 minutes, then re-enter the room to console him. It’s important that you stay in the room for only a short time – even if he is still crying – and that you don’t pick him up or rock him. This second time you leave the room, wait 10 minutes before returning to the same manner. The third time wait 15 minutes and set this as a maximum wait time for the rest of the night.
Every time thereafter, enter the room briefly and then allow your child to cry for 15 minutes. Eventually, he will fall asleep on his own during one of the 15-minute intervals in which you are out of the room. The second night, you should begin with a 10-minute wait before re-entering the room, followed by 15 and then 20 minutes. Similarly, increase your initial and subsequent wait times by 5 minutes each night.
Using this method your child will soon learn to go to sleep on his own. Although it can be difficult to listen to your baby cry, understand that the Ferber method is a safe and effective way of getting your baby to learn to sleep on his own.