Sleep training is hard. It's difficult to know what method to choose and it can be even harder to stick with it on nights when nothing seems to be working. If you've decided to give the Ferber method a try in hopes to help your baby sleep through the night, there is one sign the Ferber method is working that you need to be on the look out for to be sure it's the right method for your baby.
The Ferber method is a common (and often misunderstood) form of sleep training that many experts and parents alike swear will teach babies to sleep through the night. However, the Ferber method isn't for every baby. It will only be effective for a select set of babies who deal with sleep associations that need to be broken in order for them to wake less frequently at night.
Although the method is often lumped in with "crying it out," Baby Center noted that Richard Ferber, the founder of the sleep method and author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, never calls it that. It will likely involve some crying, but depending on your child's sleep association, it shouldn't be a traumatic experience for either of you.
According to The Baby Sleep Site, the Ferber method is often called the "check and console method" because in it, parents are instructed to check on their baby and comfort them in predetermined intervals until their child goes to sleep.
In an interview with Parenting, Ferber clarified that the method is not appropriate for every sleep issue. It's most effective for babies who wake frequently during the night due to poor sleep associations like being rocked to sleep or having a parent hold them until they fall asleep. Therefore, the biggest sign that the method is working for your baby is that their sleep associations are slowly becoming less and less vital for them to fall back asleep on their own.
For example, if your baby is used to having you rub their back until they fall asleep, using the Ferber method and doing the timed check-ins would, ideally, result in your baby not needing you to rub their back at all, and ultimately, teach them to put themselves back to sleep all on their own if, and when, they wake up.
The method isn't for babies who are too young to sleep through the night, babies with colic or other gastrointestinal issues that cause them to wake frequently, or babies who have fears at nighttime. But for the babies who have formed sleep associations that need breaking, it can be extremely effective. Once you notice your baby needing those associations less and less, you can be sure that the method is doing its job.