Ferberizing

So, Elliott is 4 months old now, and I’d been gearing up for that age because I knew it was the earliest we could start sleep training if that’s what we were going to do. I bought the Richard Ferber book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems and read it cover to cover. I know that it’s controversial and many people are opposed to what he recommends. But, I also knew that no one was sleeping at my house and that can’t be normal, so something needed to change. Elliott was rocked to sleep for all her naps, night-time sleep and any time she woke up during the night. She was waking up between 4-5 times every single night, and we’d spend about 30 or so minutes putting her back to sleep before we could lay her back down and hope that she wouldn’t wake up in the transition. And, for naps, she always slept way better if you held her and she would actually wake up if you tried to lay her down. So yes, that means that our poor nanny was holding her for all her naps, and so were we.

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I knew all of this was crazy, but it killed me to think about her crying and being alone in her crib. But, we had our 4 month doctor’s appointment, and my doctor basically said that after 4 months it gets even harder to teach good sleep habits, so if she hadn’t learned them on her own by now, then it was definitely time that I help her do it. I knew that she hadn’t learned them because I didn’t let her. Any time she made a peep, I would scoop her up and rock and shush her back to sleep. So, she never had a chance to even try to self-soothe. I don’t regret any of this though because for a long time she was swaddled, and couldn’t self-soothe since her hands were bound. And, she didn’t like pacifiers at all. So, until she was ready to sleep swaddle-free I didn’t think sleep training was an option. We also were co-sleeping all the time, which I know many people are opposed to, but this is what worked for us. Sean and I were both ready to get our bed back though, and I think that she probably woke up more because of our movement.

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So this past weekend we decided that it was time to start the sleep training. I held and cuddled her extra tight in the hours leading up to bed time. We went through our normal routine of bath time, feeding and reading and then instead of rocking her to sleep, I put her in her crib with her Pink Bunny Lovey, turned on the white noise and walked out. At first she just hung out in there with no crying, but then it started and she was really upset. So, at pre-determined intervals we took turns going in, patting her and telling her it was ok. We went in at 3, 5, 7 and 10 minutes and then every 10 minutes after that. So at the first 10 minute interval I saw that she had a poop explosion. This has never happened, and of course it happened on the first night of sleep training. I got her up, changed her and the sheets and we started over with the intervals. After a total of 45 minutes (including the time before the poop), she was asleep. Of course I cried right along with her and thought about calling the whole thing off. But, I knew that if I did that, all the crying she’d already done would have been for nothing. And, I didn’t want to do that to her. And, honestly I was expecting her to cry for much longer.

Then, she woke up around 12, and we started over with the intervals (3, 5, 7 and 10 minutes). She cried for an hour but eventually went back to sleep. That killed me!  Again, I wanted nothing more than to pick her up and rock her to sleep.  But, I knew I couldn’t do that.  At 3:30 she woke up again and I decided to feed her. She fell asleep while I was nursing her and stayed asleep until 7:15. Amazing!

The next night was even better. She cried for about 20 minutes when we first put her to sleep, but she eventually fell asleep on her own. She woke up at 1:30 and 3, fussed for about 3-5 minutes (no real crying) and then went back to sleep. At 4:30 when she woke up, I went in to feed her. This time she didn’t fall asleep while I was nursing her, but after she finished, I put her back in her crib where she cooed for a while and then eventually fell asleep on her own with no crying! She stayed asleep until 7:45. We were in shock.

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But, it hasn’t all been roses. Of course the crying is hard for me, and I cry right along with her. And, naps aren’t going as well yet. For naps, if they cry for 20 minutes, you’re supposed to end nap time and try again later. We had to do that on the first day, and it was not pretty. But, I know it will get better and we will all be happier and sleeping better.

I also think that you have to try this at the right time. She wasn’t ready for it before this, and if I’d tried it I probably would have been discouraged and put off trying it again for a long time. I know not everyone agrees with the “cry it out” method, but for us it has been a total game changer. Waking up every hour or more throughout the night was making all of us miserable. I was a zombie at work and Sean and I had more than a few harsh words for each other in the middle of the night. No more! So, obviously I’m a fan. I know were only 2 days in, but that’s how dramatically things have already changed at our house. I am a believer.  Did you ferberize?  Will you?

10 Responses to “Ferberizing”


  • This sounds pretty similar to our experience. I can’t say I don’t still have a tiny bit of guilt about it, but it was a total game changer over here too. Timing is everything, I agree. Naps took a lot longer to get better, but the overnight sleep improvement was straight up amazing! Hope things continue to go well! :)

  • Sounds like she was giving you a run for your money. Hope night three went better!! You are doing the right thing for you and for her – she wont remember and will still love you – I promise. :-) Lyle was a pretty good sleeper but we did have to CIO for one of his wake ups and he “got it” quickly. Just an FYI too: we kept that 4:00ish feeding for a while, I think til like 6 or 7 months. I felt like I would rather wake up once and get him to sleep til 7 then no wake ups and up for the day at 5/5:30. Good luck!!

  • I am sooooo glad you posted this – L sleeps like a champ, but she’s swaddled and we always rock her to sleep. We’ve been thinking lately about Ferberizing her so we can stop swaddling/rocking, but we’re scared to screw up what we have! Anyway, thank you for posting the details – I’m so glad that things are working better and you’re all getting more sleep!

    • kelsey@mintedlife

      So last night there was zero crying! I think she\’s so much happier too. She\’s proud of herself for being able to do it. I highly recommend it though I\’m sure eventually I will miss the rocking.

  • First of all, Elliott is super adorable.
    I’m glad Ferberizing worked for you. We had a Ferber Fail at our house. My daughter will not cry until she exhausts herself/falls asleep, she will cry until she gags, throws up, and subsequently loses her voice. Not cool. She is almost a year old but she doesn’t require rocking to fall asleep. Also, she has 16 teeth and began teething at 2 months, so we’ve been told by her pediatrician that establishing self-soothig tends to be tougher for babies who teethe “hard and fast” because they are often woken up by discomfort, not by poor habits. Anyway – I know you’re excited, but always remember, babies tend to operate in “stages” and remember not to get discouraged if she breaks her habits eventually. ESPECIALLY when she starts cutting teeth!

  • i’m glad that you found something that is working for all of you. it sounds heartbreaking, but it sounds like this was the right time for all of you to try this so the household could get some better sleep. here’s to continued success and good sleep for everyone!

  • I think us moms have to do what works for us! I’m glad you found something that works for you! I’m doing a similar technique to CIO but Noah happens to be a great sleeper so if I put his paci back in his mouth, he usually goes right back to sleep. If he cries more than three or four times, I nurse him and put him back down. Most of the time, this works for us and 9/10 times, he sleeps from 8pm-4/5/6am!

    Sending you happy sleepy baby dust!! :D

  • I like you was ready for a sleep change but I wasn’t a fan of CIO. I do agree with what another mom said though…do what works for you and your child. Every parent has their opinion of “what works” but every child is different. I won’t say exactly what we did but I will recommend this book… http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/great-expectation… The Great Expectations Sleep Guide…It is fabulous! It breaks sleep needs down to different stages of development/age….since their brains are constantly growing and needs ever changing what works with sleep at one point may change the next month. It also talks about different sleep methods and what our babies can developmentally understand. This book has guided us to two years from six months seamlessly with zero crying…and trust me my daughter was far from an easy baby. Sounds like you are finding your groove though. I’m suprised your doctor said four months though? Everything I have read said habits typically don’t stick till around 6 months. Good Luck!

    • kelsey@mintedlife

      Thanks so much for the recommendation! I\’m always looking for good sleep and parenting books. As for my dr, she encouraged me to try sleep stuff earlier, I wasn\’t ready and knew Elliott wasn\’t either.

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