• Wed, Jan 22 - 9:00 am ET

Exhausted Parents Live Tweet Toddler Sleep Training And Prove That Mean Ole Ferber Gets Results

sb10063075f-003Parenting is GD exhausting, and if you disagree, this post isn’t for you. Now that we have that settled… I have to say that sleep deprivation in the early days of parenting made me do crazy things. I absolutely love my sleep, which is why I have always been a big supporter of sleep training—the non-cruel kind, for any hand-wringing, pearl-clutchers out there.

When everyone in the house is well rested, you’re less likely to be at each other’s throats. Not getting enough sleep makes me wildly emotional. I may or may not have gotten into a blowup fight with my husband about the “tone” he used when he asked me where the remote was, but I decided to be the bigger person and let that one go.

My friends Bob and Adriana feel my pain. They are the very loving parents of a 17 month old that recently decided to begin sleep training. I saw their quest for sleep play out on my Facebook feed. Bob also decided to live tweet their sleep training process using the Ferber method, and I was hooked. Basically, Bob and Adriana planned to use Ferber-inspired “progressive waiting” to teach their adorable daughter Bowie to self-soothe. They also used this Sleeping Through the Night book as a resource.

I have used sleep training with both of my kids, and although it is awesome, it certainly isn’t easy. I felt Bob and Adriana’s pain as they went through a spectrum of sleep training emotions—frustration, fear, sadness, self-hatred, and ultimately acceptance.

Here’s how it unfolded:

bob1

 

bob2

 

bob3

 

bob4

 

bob5

 

bob6

Night two:

bob7

And…drumroll, please…Night three:

bob8

Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see a Great American success story like this? Bob and Adriana are my heroes. Sleep training a baby is hard, and sleep training a toddler might be even harder.

But before you think sleep training to be a magic cure-all for the screaming monster in the next room, Bob gave me this realistic conclusion to the story:

I don’t feel like we are done yet since she wakes up at night and, until last night, we were sticking with our old night wake routine of bouncing her back to sleep.  Now we are completely on the CIO bandwagon.  But as far as the experience that was live-tweeted, it was heart wrenching and we had serious doubts in the first ten minutes, but in the end it’s worth it for everyone.  Bowie is getting soooo much more sleep, is very happy to see us in the morning, and our nerves are much less ragged. I still have a concern about how dazed she can look when we check in on her while she is trying to go to sleep. Plus, we don’t have quite the same level of intimacy with her at night that we loved.

There are pluses and minuses to sleep training, but if you want to get a good night of sleep and set a self-soothing foundation for the rest of your kid’s life, I see it as a necessity. Bob and Adriana’s story kept me on the edge of my seat. I want to give them virtual hugs and send them a free night of babysitting while I’m at it.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • helloshannon

    posting the honest to goodness truth about how hard it is is so helpful to other parents. i am amazed they made it 17 months before biting the bullet. i wish them many restful nights… until 5 AM that is ;)

  • Marci

    We did the Ferber method starting at 1 year old. I don’t really consider it CIO, because of the progressive nature, parents are still checking in with their child and reassuring and soothing the child. (Although maybe that’s just my rationalization) and we’ve one gotten to 15 minutes like 3 times. We use it when she wakes during the night too.

  • Tinyfaeri

    My child flat out rejected CIO/Ferber. She slept through the night starting when she darn well pleased, around 1 year old. Best to those it works for, but it really doesn’t work for every child. :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call it one-size-fits-all at all, but it did make my life much better!

    • Tinyfaeri

      And I am so happy for you that it did. :)

    • Mikster

      True- I was lucky it worked on all 4 of ours. Even the one who suffered brain damage from his shots and was up most of the might, woke over a dozen times, eventually learned to self-soothe with Ferber’s method.

    • JAN

      I think this is something people need to realize, there is NOTHING that works with every child. I have three children and after the first I thought life would be easier b/c I had it figured out (yes, you may laugh hysterically now) then I realized that you just have to treat all of this like a buffet and pick and choose.

  • Armchair Observer

    Is the kid’s name really Bowie? Girl, right? Interesting, yet awesome name at the same time–even if it’s just a pseudonym.

    • Bethany Ramos

      It really is! Very unique, cute girl name.

  • Lala

    Ferber method worked great when our daughter was in crib. Unfortunately did not work when she switched to toddler bed. Might be because she was older and we discovered she was afraid of the dark. I highly recommend the book also. Those first nights doing it are definitely tough but well worth it for the restful nights sleep!!

  • Larry Drew SG

    What’s wrong with benadryl?

    • Armchair Observer

      Allergies, for some (like me), at least.

    • JAN

      Paradoxical excitation. Benadryl doesn’t always make children drowsy, there’s a certain percentage that bounce off the walls.

  • Megan Zander

    I’m so intrigued by the CIO and Ferber methods. Because I have twins my method is to shoot out of bed and sprint to the crying one to get him out of the room before he wakes his brother, then wait for him to fall asleep and pop him back in the crib( or fall asleep with him in my bed) It’s reassuring to know that toddlers have sleep issues no matter what method you go with and I’m not doing it wrong.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I’m sure you’re doing a great job! I’ve actually thought about how hard it would be to sleep train if my kids shared a room… I don’t even know if you would use the same method with twins. Worth looking into!

  • Marco

    We tried Ferber with our youngest (20 months right now). Had to give it up a because he gets so mad that he throws up (not just for sleep training, just in general). Had to clean up puke twice the first night and decided it wasn’t worth it

  • Kookookachoo

    Maybe it’s just the language that is bothering me, but this seems to imply that CIO/Ferber is the only way a child will ever learn to self soothe, which is obviously incorrect (or else we’d see plenty of adults with no ability whatsoever to put themselves to sleep). I’m all for parents doing what they need to do for their families, but dazed look they describe is a bit off-putting. CIO does elevate stress hormones and that glassy look could signify their daughter is simply giving up on being comforted. Hopefully they’re getting in lots of snuggles and affection in other times!

  • brebay

    Maybe she’s screaming because middle school is 11 short years away and she just realized her name sounds an awful lot like Blow-me.

  • oywiththepoodlesalready

    Let me just start this off by saying that whatever method you choose or don’t chose is a personal choice. I just happened to use a bastardized version of Ferber but it worked great on 2 out of my 3 kids (the middle one was a great sleeper from the get go) I hadn’t had a good night of sleep in 2 yrs with my first one and bedtime was awful. Put my big girl panties on and put my foot down and ONE night of screaming and following me out of the room and that was it. The next night I was like, it’s bedtime, off we go and he went and that was that. My youngest we started at about 8-9 months and seriously 2 nights of crying and then blessed sleep… I’m not saying those nights weren’t hard to get thru b/c they were. You worry if you’re somehow harming them and all sorts of thoughts go thru your head but it was so worth it. 3 Yr old goes to bed with no fuss no muss. He even tells me he’s ready for bed most nights even though we have a routine we follow like a religion. I am all about the sleep.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I loves me some Ferber.

  • Jen

    I am cruel. Ferberizing for 3 hours several nights in a row just wasn’t for me. Every time I entered the room she cried ever harder. “Mean Ole Ferber Gets Results” for some. Not for everyone.

    • SusannahJoy

      Ugh, that really sucks. Did you figure out something that worked?

  • SusannahJoy

    I lover Ferber. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that at least once a week for the past 5 months. But seriously, love. We did it when he was 4 months old. Def on the younger side, but we needed to. He was waking up literally every hour and demanding to be nursed to sleep. Nothing else would calm him down. No one was getting any sleep, and we were all miserable. Within a week he was sleeping for 10 straight hours, and actually smiling at us again. Thank you, Ferber!

  • Karen Milton

    Ferber saved my life. My daughter was up as many as ten or twelve times a night for the first 2.5 years of her life, every single night, and I was averaging about 20 hours a week of sleep. That did not make my work days great – I could barely remember to put on pants. Ferberizing took three nights, like it does for many people, and after her first night of blissful, solid sleep I woke up in the morning and sobbed like a baby. The book is interesting and nothing like I’d thought it would be, and some of the rationale made good sense to me. When people think “cry it out” they picture leaving a baby alone to scream for hours, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth, it’s much more gentle. It definitely saved me.

  • Rebecca

    Ferber isn’t so bad, at least it requires parents to still check on their children at intervals. Friends of ours let their 1 year old scream and cry for 3 hours straight without going to check on her once – they thought that was highly succesful sleep training. Makes my heart hurt every time she brags about it… We loosely followed Ferber, but we don’t let our son CIO. It was never worth it, he just got more and more upset.