The gist: Sticking to a schedule, you let your baby cry in his crib for increasing lengths of time before you reassure him verbally.
Why it's right for you:
- Your baby sometimes stops crying on his own.
- He doesn't become more upset the longer he cries.
- You're comfortable putting up with a few difficult nights for the end result.
How to pull it off: Start with a nighttime routine that helps calm your baby and signals bedtime, such as a bath, a story, and cuddle time. Next, put him in his crib at the same time every night, whether he seems drowsy or not, and leave the room. Now comes the hard part of this method, popularized by Richard Ferber, M.D., author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: When your child cries, wait before checking on him. On the first night, let your baby cry for five minutes. Then let him hear your calming voice, but don't pick him up. Stay for two to three minutes each time you go in to soothe him - you're there for reassurance, not necessarily to get him to stop crying. The next time he cries, wait 10 minutes; then, 15. If he's still crying after 15 minutes, continue to wait 15 minutes before going in each time for the remainder of the night. (If five minutes seems like too long to wait the first time, start with two minutes, then increase to four, six, eight...) Each night, lengthen the time you let your baby fuss before going in until it's no longer necessary. This process shouldn't take longer than a few days, says Dr. Ferber. The same steps can be used for daytime naps.
What moms say: "The first few times we let Logan just cry were overwhelmingly difficult," says Jenny Besecker of Beavercreek, Ohio. "In the end it worked because we gave it a chance to work." Her suggestion: Watch your child on a monitor to reassure yourself that he's okay.