Ferberizing is a method popularized by Richard Ferber, MD, in the classic book he recently revised, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. This technique is most often used by parents who want quick and fast results and can handle a bit of crying. Ferber has pointed out that his method doesn’t always work, especially on really sensitive infants, so consider your baby’s personality before you attempt it.
Ferberizing is best used after 4 months (you should always respond quickly to newborns) and before 8 months, when babies haven’t fallen into hard-to-break habits. It’s also ideal for an initially easy baby who may be getting more active and thus more resistant to going to bed because his world has suddenly become much more engaging. You yourself will need nerves of steel. If you’re the type who feels like crying whenever your baby does, this one is not meant for you. But if you’ve reached your breaking point, here’s how it works. Begin with your usual bedtime routine, but tuck your baby in when he’s sleepy but still awake. If he cries and he will if he’s not used to being deposited in his crib awake, no matter how lovingly — respond by consoling him with a soft, reassuring voice and by rubbing his tummy, but explain that it is nighttime and you are going. Your soothing tone should help even when he can’t understand what it is that you’re saying. Leave the room for about five minutes at first, then return to console him if he is still upset, but don’t take him out of the crib. Repeat this pattern until your baby falls asleep on his own, and do so again if he wakes in the middle of the night. Each consecutive night, lengthen the time you let him fuss by a few more minutes, then go in to comfort him, until it is no longer necessary. Eventually, he will settle down and things will take a turn for the better.