Ferber Changes His Tune on Sleep

So letting your infant lay alone it his/her crib crying to the point of exhaustion until he/she falls alseep isn’t a good method? The father of the popular Ferber method, Dr. Richard Ferber, is changing his tune. He now says that different methods should be used with different children and that the CIO method won’t work on children with anxiety.

According to Ferber his method is often misunderstood. Well let’s see:

Once you put her in bed, leave the room. If she cries, wait a certain amount of time before you check on her. (The suggested waiting time, which Ferber charts in his book, is based on how comfortable you are with the technique, how many days you’ve been using it, and how many times you’ve already checked on your baby that night.) When you do go back to her room, soothe her with your voice but don’t pick her up, rock her, or feed her.

This excerpt is from a BabyCenter.com article entitled “The Ferber Method Demystified” Dr. Ferber is part of their experts panel.

I’m not really sure how this could be misunderstood. The idea is that you place your child alone in their crib and then when they cry you don’t pick them up or comfort them, except with your voice and anyone who has every tried to soothe a crying baby, with just their voice, knows how effective just their voice is. To me this is cruel, not only to the child but to the parents as well. I have not yet met anyone who has used this method and was not torn apart, listening to their child cry for hours on end.

Here’s my two cents. Children are people, just like adults. Most adults I know have chosen to couple up and have someone in bed next to them. Those same adults have trouble sleeping when that person is not there. Children are the same way. They spend nine months in the womb attached to their mother and then when they come out it is expected that they will sleep alone in their crib. That is ridiculous. Children, like adults, need that closeness and comfort that comes with falling asleep in their parents arms.

Ferber’s method also does not take into account the fact that infants stomachs are too small to last the entire night with out eating. Many infants nurse/bottle feed several times during the night not just for comfort but for sustenance. Denying an infant food when it is hungry, is cruel. It is this idea that infants shouldn’t nurse or bottle feed during the night that causes parents to do other detrimental things such as putting rice cereal in bottles or starting solids too early in hopes that the child will not wake to eat. Neither of these has been proven to affect sleep.

I’m glad that he is softening his position because he has the ear of many parents. Hopefully his new book will bring about a kinder, gentler Ferber method and stop the current “Ferberizing” trend of letting infants cry them selves to the point of exhaustion.

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3 thoughts on “Ferber Changes His Tune on Sleep”

  1. ugh. don’t get me started. i heard about this too and might comment on it on my own blog as well.
    i feel like he’s changing his tune only because he’s ruined countless children over the years and caught so much flack lately.
    have you read “our babies, ourselves”? it’s pointed out there that babies have to wake up often (especially newbies) to have their needs (hungry, wet, cold, etc.) met. if they don’t, they run a bigger chance of sids. so you don’t want them to sleep long periods of time as tiny babes.
    arg. so frustrating.

  2. I think these verses have done even more damage over the years:

    Proverb 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

    Proverb 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

    Proverb 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

    Proverb 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

    Proverb 29:15 Thy rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

    Oh that God, what a joker.

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