Does the Ferber Method Work for Toddlers?

Hello, lovely ducklings of the parenting pond! Today, we’re diving headfirst into the age-old question of whether the Ferber method, a.k.a. “Ferberizing,” is a golden ticket to blissful nights of sleep for your toddlers. We’ve all heard the success stories when it comes to using this method with infants, but what happens when those little cherubs turn into toddler tornadoes in open beds?

A Refresher on the Ferber Method

Before we waddle too far into the discussion, let’s quickly revisit the Ferber method for those who might be new to the nest. Developed by the renowned pediatric sleep expert, Dr. Richard Ferber, this method involves gradually letting your baby learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. It’s a systematic approach that involves periodically checking in on your baby at increasing intervals, starting with a short wait and gradually extending the time between visits.

The method is like teaching our little ducklings to swim in the sleep pool with a bit of guidance before they can paddle all on their own. It’s been known to work wonders for infants, but what about toddlers?

When to Say Goodnight to the Ferber Method for Toddlers

Folks, toddlers are a whole different species when it comes to sleep. They’re curious, mobile, and often opinionated. The Ferber method, while often magical for infants, seems to lose its charm when the crib bars come down. Here’s why:

  • Independence Rebellion: Toddlers are budding explorers who may see bedtime as an opportunity to negotiate. When it’s time to hit the hay, they can be remarkably skilled negotiators, so the Ferber method might not be as effective in this age group.
  • Intruder Alert: Once those crib bars are history, the toddler bed can turn into a sleep-time circus. If your little one starts popping in and out like a jack-in-the-box, it can be tough to apply the Ferber method consistently because your toddler is coming out of their room before you have the chance to go in the room to check in on them.
  • Check-in Habit: If you can get your toddler to stay in their open bed while you proceed with the Ferber method, your toddler might develop a reliance on the check-ins as a part of their falling asleep process. Now, instead of your toddler tossing and turning on their own in their bed, you are hearing them call out for you every few minutes, dropping everything, and running into the room to remind them yet again it is time to sleep.

Tips for a Toddler-Friendly Method

While the Ferber method might not work as seamlessly for toddlers, don’t lose hope just yet. There are a few modifications you can make to help make bedtime more tranquil:

  • Routine Rules: Consistency is key. Stick to a soothing bedtime routine to signal that it’s time to nestle down for the night. A warm bath, a cozy story, and some cuddles can work wonders. Keep the routine consistent regardless of the requests your toddler makes and who is doing the bedtime routine.
  • Bedtime Buddy: Sometimes, a comfort object or stuffed animal can provide a sense of security that makes it easier for toddlers to stay put in bed. Limit the number of toys or stuffed animals on the bed to one for each hand. Otherwise, the hunt to find one specific toy can turn into a stall technique.
  • Stay Cool as a Cucumber: Toddlers can be as stubborn and determined as little ducklings, especially at bedtime. Be prepared for some resistance. Remember, it’s all part of the growing-up process.

In the end, whether you choose the Ferber method or our Week to Sleep approach, every toddler is as unique as a snowflake. What works for one may not work for another. The key is to observe your little one’s cues and adapt accordingly.

With some creativity, patience, and a sprinkle of Tiny Duck Parenting, you can help your toddler embrace the sandman’s visit, one bedtime at a time.

Until next time, keep quacking on, tiny duck parents!

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About The Author

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Jennie is a certified sleep consultant with a background in Child and Adolescent Studies who specializes in teaching toddlers and children to choose to stay in their open bed, fall asleep independently, and sleep through the night. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Studies, and spending time in the classroom, she decided to follow her passion and move to New York City to become a professional theatre actress. Between shows, she worked as a nanny. One family had a toddler that couldn’t fall asleep without help, he refused to nap and would wake-up multiple times a night. Frustrated by the lack of resources for toddler sleep issues she became a certified sleep consultant. Relying on her education and experience, she then created Week to Sleep geared for toddlers in an open bed.

Jennie has helped so many families across the country make bedtime easy and enjoyable. She has been featured on Mommy Mingle, Parentville, corporate Google, and buybuybaby. Jennie’s favorite part of working with families is when a toddler runs to their parents in the morning exclaiming, “I did it, I am SO proud of me!