Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sleep training Clara, Ferber style, Day 1

If you've been reading for a while you know that Clara's sleep has been crazy for a long time now. A really long time now. Remember when we tried sleep training at 4 mo and then traveled for a solid month and thus any progress went right out the window and she ended up back in our bed every single night? (yes - total run on sentence) Yeah. . . that was really fun.

Anyways, I gave a little sleep update in her 6 mo post. While I came to terms with her sleeping in our bed (has never been my first choice) and was ok with it, it got to the point where she wasn't even sleeping soundly there so we said "enough is enough." Clara only knew how to fall asleep with us, either holding her and/or walking the halls with her, and thus any time she had a spontaneous awakening during the night (which is totally normal for all babies, kids and adults) she was not able to put herself to sleep unless we got up w/ her and started pacing. So you can imagine what nights were like when she woke 4-5x, every single night.

We declared it time for sleep training round two.

Enter Ferber method.  Based on his book, Solve Your Childs Sleep Problems. 

So what is Ferber's approach?

In a nutshell, Ferber says you can teach your baby to soothe himself to sleep when he's physically and emotionally ready, usually sometime between 3 and 5 months of age.

He recommends following a warm, loving bedtime routine and then putting your baby in bed awake and leaving him (even if he cries) for gradually longer periods of time. Putting a child to bed awake, says Ferber, is crucial to successfully teaching him to go to sleep on his own.

Parents are instructed to pat and comfort their baby after each predetermined period of time, but not to pick up or feed their baby. This routine is called "progressive waiting."

The suggested waiting time, which Ferber charts in his book, is based on how comfortable you are with the technique, how many days you've been using it, and how many times you've already checked on your child that night.

After a few days to a week of gradually increasing the waiting time, the theory goes, most babies learn to fall asleep on their own, having discovered that crying earns nothing more than a brief check from you.

Ferber never says you should simply leave your baby in his crib and shut the door behind you. His progressive waiting approach allows you to gradually limit the time you spend in your child's room while providing regular comfort and reassurance – as well as reassuring yourself that he's okay.


Here's the suggested wait times listed in the book although Ferber notes that any schedule will work as long as times increase progressively each day. Also, if your child wakes during the night you are to start again at the minimum wait time for that day and work your way up to the maximum, and continue at the maximum until your child falls asleep again. 

Day 1 - 5 min (1st wait); 10 min (2nd wait); 15 min (3rd wait); 15 min (subsequent waits)
Day 2 – 10 min; 15 min; 20 min; 20 min (subsequent waits)
Day 3 – 15 min; 20 min; 25 min; 25 min (subsequent waits)
Day 4 – 20 min; 25 min; 30 min; 30 min (subsequent waits)
Day 5 – 25 min; 30 min; 35 min; 35 min (subsequent waits)
Day 6 – 30 min35 min; 40 min; 40 min (subsequent waits)
Day 7 – 35 min40 min; 45 min; 45 min (subsequent waits)
We decided to start on Friday night 11/9/12. Before deciding on this date we made certain that we would be NOT be leaving town any time soon and thus we could remain consistent. Training will last until Friday 11/16 as I wanted to give it our all, for a solid week. I also had to limit my social calendar during this week, so that I could make sure we were home for naps. Let's be honest. . . it wasn't that hard since I'm by nature, a complete homebody.

(Note: For sake of not having to repeat myself just know anytime I put her in her crib she was awake, thus the entire point of this training. Also, we are continuing to follow the HSHHC recommendation of not keeping your baby up during the day for more than 2 hours at a time, as this has proven to work really well for Clara. Sometimes she can last 2.5 or closer to 3 hours but I just have to watch her signs. Three hours is usually pushing it.)

Also, I am documenting the start of each day as 8pm, Clara's bedtime, since we started the training Friday at bedtime. So each "day" runs from bedtime - last nap of the next day. 
Day 1: {5 min (1st wait); 10 min (2nd wait); 15 min (3rd wait); 15 min (subsequent waits)}
8pm - Bedtime - She went down easily and then woke at 9:30pm crying. Had to go in a total of 5x before she fell asleep, which equaled about one hour of crying. Not bad! I honestly expected a lot more!
2am - Woke again. Went in at the 5 min mark. Left the room after a few minutes as Ferber instructs. She fell asleep on her own before we had to go in at the 10 min mark. 
5am - Woke again yet was able to soothe herself before the 5 min was up and thus we didn't have to go in at all!
6:30am - Woke for the day!! I'll take it!
8:30am - Nap - she fell asleep ON HER OWN. Had to go in 1x as she woke spontaneously, but after a few minutes of patting her back, and then leaving the room, she was able to self soothe and fall asleep quickly. 
1pm - Nap - She played in her bed for a while (until about 1:30pm) but never fussed/cried and was able to fall asleep on her own!
5:15pm - Nap - Fell asleep on her own & never had to go in her room!
TBC. . . 


  1. That's awesome! Congrats to you guys. What a journey you have been on with Clara's sleep... so glad to hear it's on the upward swing!

  2. Congratulations!! I'm excited for you guys! Way to keep your head high and find methods that work for you and your family. Good job, Brittnie!

  3. Whoo-whoo! Can't wait to read as you document... although, we chat about this almost everyday anyways. LOL. :) Way to go mama and Clara.

  4. Here's to hoping this method works- permanently! Hang in there!

  5. Thank you for sharing yours and Clara's experience. My baby boy is almost 12 weeks and while he is still too young for any training, I'm sure the time will come soon enough that we'll need help teaching him to sleep.

    Did you use to feed Clara during her night wakings, or just sooth her back to sleep? It's so difficult to tell whether the baby is crying because he/she is hungry or if it's because they were startled awake.

    1. Hi Linda, Yes previously when Clara would wake at night we would try to feed her or walk around the house with her until she fell back asleep. When we first saw that she was stirring and thus about to wake up, we would try to "catch her quickly" by feeding her in hopes that it would prevent a full wake up. This only back fired on us. Wouldn't recommend it. . . of course a baby needs to be fed if truly hungry - so hard to know what is true hunger and what is just a normal wake up! Good luck!

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