Listed below is Ferber's sleep training plan where you tackle naps and night time sleep at the same time. You can begin to use this with children 3-5 months of age. Everything is done in one step which makes for quicker results, but also a lot more change all at once. This is suppose to be used for children that have poor Sleep Props/Associations or habits (we treat them the same) that make falling to sleep by themselves in the correct environment difficult. If, after implementing this method for 1 week, there is no improvement in sleep or it seems to be getting worse then your child's poor sleep may be due to something else besides a poor sleep prop/association (see "But Why Doesn't It Work?").
Ferber states that it takes a few days to a week to fix sleep problems using his methods. He compares a child having to learn a new way to sleep with an adult having to learn to fall asleep without a pillow. At first he will have a hard time falling asleep but over time he'll get used to sleeping like this. To get used to it he simply has to do it and then do it over and over again. Remember to be consistent otherwise all the hard work and crying is for nothing.
Ferber says that his "progressive waiting" approach is better than the "cold turkey approach because it allows parents to check on their children which gives them comfort and it allows children and parents to have a less distressing and drastic approach to sleep training which makes parents more likely to follow through.
To begin, start off by picking a bedtime around the time your child usually goes to bed. Make sure to make this time no earlier than your child usually goes to bed since this will make it even harder for your child to fall asleep. Ferber actually suggests maybe putting your child to bed 30-60 minutes later than usual to help your child fall asleep faster, although this may end up back firing on you if your child gets too overtired and tries to fight sleep. Then put your child to bed in his crib (or where ever he will be when he wakes up normally during the night) awake. If your child is sleeping in a bed rather than a crib then you may need to either put a gate in his door way or close the door to his room in between "visits". When your child starts to cry or calls for you whether it be right when you put him to bed or some other time during the night, allow him to cry for gradually longer periods of time starting at the minimum waiting time for the night with each new awakening.
Three to five minutes is a good starting point but if you can't handle that you can start with something as short as 1 minute. The key is to progressively increase the time between visits up to a desired max amount of time each night as shown in the chart below.
Number of minutes to wait before responding
Day 1: 1st wait period-3 , 2nd wait period-5, 3rd wait period-10, remaining wait periods-10
Day 2: 1st wait period-5 , 2nd wait period-10, 3rd wait period-12, remaining wait periods-12
Day 3: 1st wait period-10 , 2nd wait period-12, 3rd wait period-15, remaining wait periods-15
Day 4: 1st wait period-12 , 2nd wait period-15, 3rd wait period-17, remaining wait periods-17
Day 5: 1st wait period-15 , 2nd wait period-17, 3rd wait period-20, remaining wait periods-20
Day 6: 1st wait period-17 , 2nd wait period-20, 3rd wait period-25, remaining wait periods-25
Day 7: 1st wait period-20 , 2nd wait period-25, 3rd wait period-30, remaining wait periods-30
If by day 7 thing are improving but still not better just continue adding a few minutes onto each interval of time.
When you go in to "visit" your child make sure you only stay in there for 1-2 minutes at a time. When you visit your job is to reassure your child (and yourself) not to make him stop crying or go to sleep (since your goal is to get him to fall asleep by himself). Ferber suggest not even picking up your child when making your "visits". Don't be surprised if your baby starts to cry more right when you leave the room. This is pretty normal. Also, if your baby needs a blanket placed back in the crib etc., go ahead and do so during your visits but not in between visits. Ferber doesn't suggest replacing a pacifier since this would just create another bad sleep association that would need to be fixed at a later time.
Continue your visits until baby stops crying, is about to fall asleep or is calming down (whimpering etc) or it is time for baby to get up in the morning. You may need to make this time a little bit earlier than usual (around an hour) . If baby is asleep at his usual wake time then wake him up, even if he was up much of the night. Do not let your child fall asleep right away somewhere else after he gets up in the morning since this would counteract all the work the two of you just did during the night.
Day time sleep
Use the same "progressive waiting" approach that you use for nighttime sleep except if your child has not fallen asleep after 30 minutes (I personally recommend a limit of 60 minutes for naps) or he falls asleep for any amount of time and then wakes up, get him up and finish that nap period. Don't increase nap times or make them go late into the evening to make up for lost sleep at night or your child may then not be able to sleep well that night. Also, if your child ends up falling asleep later on the floor or somewhere else outside the crib, Ferber says not to worry about this as long as your child falls asleep by himself.
I personally have my doubts about some of these "nap rules". I think it might be wise to increase nap times slightly to make up for some lost sleep the night before. The reason I think this is important is because a child that is over tired is going to have a harder time falling asleep which will make sleep training much harder. As long as you don't let your child sleep too late during the day or for too much longer during naps it should help with night time sleep training rather than hinder it. I also am not sure why Ferber says it is ok to have your child fall asleep outside the crib between nap times but not right after he gets up in the morning. This seems inconsistent to me but he says that eventually baby will learn to fall asleep in his crib during nap times even if he falls asleep on the floor every so often.