How can the self-soothing method help my baby fall asleep?

Richard Ferber is a pediatrician who founded -- and was former director of -- the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston. He's a leading expert in children's sleep behavior, and he developed a method that allows babies to soothe themselves to sleep instead of relying on you to provide comfort.

The self-soothing method teaches babies to go to sleep easily and happily on their own, and it allows them to fall back asleep if they wake up without you there. This means you may get a better night's sleep too. However, some parents don't like the fact that crying is often involved, and some believe that it could lead to long-lasting negativity toward bedtime.

After following a bedtime routine with comforting activities like bathing, reading a book or giving your baby a massage, Ferber's method involves putting your baby into his or her crib while still awake but drowsy. Say goodnight, then leave the room.

If your baby cries when you leave, you should let him or her cry for about three minutes, then go in and soothe the baby for a minute or two before leaving again. Don't turn the light on or pick your baby up -- your goal is to just reassure him or her that you're there.

If your baby cries again, wait slightly longer to go back in -- about five minutes -- and keep increasing the time between visits until you get to 10 minutes. Each subsequent night, make the intervals slightly longer. Eventually, your baby will learn to fall asleep on his or her own without your presence.

Some experts say to avoid the self-soothing methods in the first six months because it undermines trust and can cause you to overlook an underlying medical problem that may be causing pained nighttime crying.

What's important is to find a method that works for you and your child and enables a healthy night's sleep for both of you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.