Want to see a bunch of new moms come to blows faster than teams in a Stanley Cup playoff?  Mention infant sleep training – and then talk about Richard Ferber.  We review his ideology so you can pick a side for the fight.  Just remember, you are the parent and your own instincts blended with your baby’s cues cannot be preached at by anybody, no matter how much of an offence they can play.  (And moms also reserve the right to change their mind if their first choice doesn’t work).  Here is an overview of Baby Sleep Methods from Richard Ferber.

The Ferber Method

Infant sleep problems are what a lot of parents are normally confronted with as a challenge in raising their children. Dr. Richard Ferber, in an attempt to help solve these problems proposed a couple of methods to be used in sleep training for infants and children. These methods are now popularly referred to as Ferberization techniques.  In a nutshell? The parent leaves the baby to cry for a predetermined time before giving external comfort that will put the baby to sleep.

The wide array of techniques for infant sleep training as proposed by Richard Ferber includes taking steps to prepare the baby for sleep. This involves a number of day time and bed time activities – a routine that the baby can easily associate with sleep. It also entails leaving the child in bed and leaving the room at bedtime. The parent can return to comfort the baby at progressively increasing intervals without picking the baby up. This should be done till the baby falls asleep. As the days go by, the intervals for returning to comfort the baby should be increased progressively.  Ferber is often misunderstood.  He does condone flexibility, such as when a child is ill, traveling or has a babysitter, but stresses the importance of the routine and the lack of positive reinforcement that a baby receives for crying in order to be soothed to sleep.

The Sleep Training Controversy

This ‘training’ usually takes place between 4 and 6 months of age. However, different parents may get different results using these techniques.  The controversy comes about when experts try to determining whether infants become insecure and are scarred for the future if they are left to cry at all.

Whatever your opinion, bringing up the topic in a group of new moms is always quite exciting.  Just be prepared to win or lose friends..

For more information about training a baby to sleep, visit: www.childrenshospital.org