New parents frequently worry about not getting enough sleep to function, which causes them to wonder how they can get their newest member of the family to sleep longer and without crying. There are many different approaches, one of them is the “Cry it Out” approach based on the Ferber method. This method is based on Ferber’s belief that babies can learn to soothe themselves around 4-6 months of age. So, how does it work?
The Ferber method basically promotes following a bedtime routine that is loving and calm. This routine should include spending time with baby and then placing baby in his crib awake. Even if the baby cries you should not pick him up at this point but leave him in his crib to self soothe. The method recommends leaving baby for longer periods of time until the baby learns to sleep on his own. The idea behind this method is that babies can’t learn to go to sleep on their own if they are always put to sleep by rocking, nursing, or some other method.
When baby is crying the parents are instructed to comfort their baby while leaving them in the crib, even if they stand up. The goal is to pat and calm the baby, but not pick them up. The amount of time you leave your baby will be based on when you started the program, how comfortable you are with the method, and other considerations. The theory states that over a period of a week or so babies will learn to put themselves to sleep because they learn that crying does not illicit the response they had hoped for.
There are some families who find this approach works well for them and for other families it doesn’t. It really depends on what you are comfortable with and how well your baby responds to this method. In general, babies need to be held and cuddled and there is no need to leave them on their own to cry it out when there are other solutions that may work just as well without any tears, frustration, or guilt.