Our First Night Ferberizing

Our First Night Ferberizing Our Baby

We swore we wouldn’t do it.  We scoffed at the idea, acted all high and mighty…

“Oh we could NEVER let our darling child cry.” 

(But cry he did.  Granted, Itty Bitty had a serious case of colic until he was seven months old.)

But if we had any choice, we would never facilitate any crying fits or chicanery as it related to our little boy.  He is perfect in our eyes, and we were ABOVE any of that other crap parents subject their child to.

You know how smiling is Buddy the Elf’s favorite?
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 Well crying is my kid’s favorite…
Thanks to the wonderful and aforementioned seven long months of colic, Itty Bitty had developed some extraordinarily bad habits when it came to sleep (or even calming down to go to sleep.) Unfortunately, it reached a point where there were only a select few methods I was able to use when it actually came to soothing my darling Itty Bitty:  
1.  I could wear him.  (Great for him, but as he chunked up and became the Andre the Giant of babies, this proved to be murder on my poor back.)
2.  Skin to skin contact.  (I still love doing this.  There’s nothing quite like feeling his little heart beat on my chest.  But, this method is clunky and SUPER awkward in public.  Some people may like the peep show, but Tall Dad certainly wouldn’t.)
3.  Or, we could always fall back on ol’ reliable: lie next to him when he napped. (Also, still love doing this.  His tiny little cuddles are an elixir made up of wholly awesomeness.  But, I am an adult, and, despite my fervent protestations, I have to do adult things like clean, pay bills, watch trash TV, and use the restroom every once in a while.  And while I would love to remain a Toy’s R Us kid, I also know this method is not conducive to being a productive grown-up.)
We love Itty Bitty, but sleep is really important and, because of these extremely time consuming constraints thrust upon us by Itty Bitty’s bad sleep habits, we just weren’t getting any. Wait, strike that – we were the proud beneficiaries of maybe an hour and a half a night.  Something had to change.  Tall Dad and I were reaching our breaking point.
But, we also had some good news too.  Upon the seven month mark, we noticed that the colic had ended, and Itty Bitty’s demeanor had really changed for the better.  It was like a light had gone off.  This was our chance.  We decided that it would be a great time for me to gain a little bit of my sanity back.  I mean, I hadn’t slept well since my second trimester – which was A YEAR AGO. Obviously, Mamma needed some help.  That help was going to come in the form of some real sleep training for Itty Bitty.
Tall Dad and I tried out a few different sleep techniques. Some seemed to slightly work, but nothing had made a big difference. Through the grapevine, however, we heard many parents had success Ferberizing their baby.  It’s a pretty controversial method, but it does seem to work very well.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ferber Method, (or, Ferberizing) – the idea is that you put your baby down to sleep without any coddling/nursing/rocking/holding, and check up on them at specific intervals until they fall asleep. A lot of people call this the Cry It Out Method (or CIO). 
The first night of Ferberizing is supposed to look like this:
-Put baby into his/her bed without any assistance (ideally no pacifiers either, but you can cheat if you need to). 

-If baby doesn’t cry, congrats.  You have the holy grail child. Now shut up and stop telling me how your child sleeps through the night. I’m exhausted.
-If your baby cries, check on him in 3 minutes. Do NOT pick him up, do NOT nurse/rock/etc. Just pat him, give him back his pacifier if he needs it, and tell him it’s time to sleep. Do not spend more then an minute in their room. Leave. 

-If baby continues to cry, do the same check up 5 minutes later.

-If baby continues to cry, do the same checkup 10 minute later. 

-Continue checking up on the crying baby every 10 minutes until he is asleep.
Once asleep, pat yourself on the back, have a glass of wine, (or a double of your favorite whiskey) and get ready to go through this whole cycle again when your baby wakes up during the night.  It sucks.  It’s terrible.  You’re gonna feel awful.  But, hold true to the Force.
Supposedly, within 3-7 days your baby will start going to sleep like a champ….or so I’ve heard.
So, back to Tall Dad and I.  We were desperate.  And despite our self important opinions of ourselves and our parenting abilities, like Princess Leia pleading to Obi-Wan Kenobi, we knew this was our only hope. 
So we finally decided to come down off our Ivory Tower, tuck our tails between our legs, and give that blasted Ferber Method a try.

Here’s what our first night looked like:
7:30 – We put Itty Bitty down, and he began crying as we left the room.
7:33 – After 3 min crying – I checked up on him, patted his back and told him it was time to sleep. This just made him cry more.

7:38  – We waited 5 more minutes, and Tall Dad checked in on him. This brought about the same effect.
7:48 – These 10 minutes were AGONIZINGLY painful.  Terrible high pitched screams were coming from Itty Bitty, and when Tall Dad went to check in on him, he found our baby sweating and covered in snot and tears. 

At this point, Tall Dad had a meltdown. He came back extremely upset, and I comforted him, reminding him that we needed to give this a good try before we ducked out. I told him I would do the next check in.

Six minutes later, at 7:54, Itty Bitty’s crying became a softer whimper.

Many minutes when by, he rubbed his eyes, sucked his fingers, and whimpered some more.

When 10 solid minutes of whimpering went by, I debated about checking in on him. I realized that he was calming down, and if I went in, it would only upset him more. So I waited.

14 more minutes went by, and he rolled on his side and began screaming.

8:20 – We had one pissed off baby yelling at us
8:30 – I did a check in, and he yelled at us with a furious rage as we left.
8:40 – Thumb sucking began again
8:47 – An hour and 17 minutes later, Itty Bitty’s breathing slowed down, and he fell asleep.

Thank you God!
9:07 – he woke up again.
I’ll tell you what…this Dr. Ferber has a lot of explaining to do….
I’ll let you know how the rest of our experience goes. Please feel free to send copious amounts of coffee, earplugs, (or whiskey) and tissues our way.


  1. I promise mommy, that it does get better. We had a rough go of it too. Our little one cried for 6 months straight. She was a horrible sleeper. She actually only slept in her car seat for the first 3-4 months. It was the only place we could get her to fall asleep. The transition to flat surface was a nightmare. I did not try the Ferber method because she would have never stopped crying.

    1. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement! Our little guy wouldn't even sleep in the car seat – argh! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

  2. It will get better! Stick with it… That screaming and crying is AGONIZING.. there were nights when I couldn't even bring myself to eat dinner because Ava's crying was so upsetting to me. But it really will pay off.. Now, after our brief bedtime routine (wash up, brush teeth, jammies, books), I lay Ava down, say night night, shut off the light, close the door and leave.. she goes to sleep without a peep. If she wakes in the night, she puts herself back to sleep (only exceptions being when she's teething or sick). Think of it this way – you are doing the best thing for him by helping him learn to soothe himself. You and Blake can do it… may the force be with you! (: PS. We still need to schedule a play date!

    1. Thanks so much maggie – blake and I keep reminding ourselves that — that quality sleep is good for ALL of us! And yes – lets get together during holiday break!

  3. UGH. the Ferber method worked great for my first baby, but my second one never figured it out. I finally had to turn in my crown as "sleep maven" and just realize I will do anything to get her to sleep. She has good weeks and bad, sometimes she stays in her bed, sometimes not. But, at 3.5 years old, I also realize that she won't be like this forever, and far too soon she will want nothing to do with me. So, I'm rolling with it. Hang in there mama, whatever you guys try to do!!!

    1. Aw thanks 🙂 So true – each baby is different! Hopefully this works for my little guy, because he sure does need some quality sleep!

  4. I ferberized my daughter and it really works! I would stick with it. As hard it as sounds, it does get better! Since we did this, my daughter has slept 12 + hours! It is hard mama but it does work!

  5. May The Force be with you <3 You got this- stay strong. I'm currently watching the red line blink up to max capacity as my over-tired toddler wrestles herself to sleep. I just sip my wine and close the office door. Woooosaaaaah. It's all just a stage.

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