Ferber vs Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child

Ferber suggests a gradual or controlled crying approach to sleep training while Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (HSHHC) suggests an abrupt or cold turkey/extinction crying approach to sleep training**. So which is better? Well, I wish I could tell you right off, but like most things involving sleep and babies, there are several
factors to consider.

One is parent's preference. What do they feel comfortable with? If parents don't feel comfortable with a sleep training approach, they are going to be less likely to do it. Also, which approach do parents feel like they are going to be more likely to follow through with - during initial training and during (probable) relapses in the future.

Next off, every child is very different. Some seem to do better with one approach than the other. Your child's personality may give you a clue to which method will work best, but you may not know for sure until you try one or both methods.

Here are some additional points about the two different methods:

Abrupt Approach
  • Often results in quicker results compared to the gradual approach.
  • May be hard for parents to continue with because they can't handle their child crying for so long without comforting or check in on them.
  • "Parents who successfully carry out an abrupt retraining program...see dramatic improvements without any lasting ill effects. These children have fewer relapses and recover faster and more completely from natural disruptions of sleep routines [compared to a gradual approach]." (HSHHC, p. 12)

Gradual Approach
  • Often takes longer than the gradual approach so parents may not keep it up, especially during relapses.
  • Allows parents to check on their children which gives them comfort.
  • Allows children and parents to have a less distressing and drastic approach to sleep training which may make parents more likely to continue this approach.

**There is much more to both of these books than cry it out methods. That just happens to be the topic of this post.



  1. claire thomas commented on Sleep Training - Ferber vs Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child - My Baby Sleep Guide:

    My little boy is 8 months and after crying it out for a month sleeps 10hrs rarely waking but naps are hard he always slept on my chest but now I can't do it. I'm trying crying it out for naps and he gets fir about an hour but wakes after 20m - should I leave him to cry himself back to sleep or bring him down and put him back up when he is tired again? Night time was much easier to understand.

    1. claire thomas commented on Sleep Training - Ferber vs Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child - My Baby Sleep Guide:

      Forgot to say I check on him every 10/15m thanks

    2. Claire,
      The general recommendation is to keep trying until at least the 1 hour total mark of the nap (doing the same thing you've done previous). It can also work to get him up and put him back down again when he seems tired (which will be soon). This method often ends up helping extend naps eventually as he gets better at putting himself down.