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To cry or not to cry?

The other day, Dr. Ferber appeared on The Early Show (*link to the video) to speak to some of the criticism he's gotten.  He attempted to clarify his Center's approaches and also clarify misconceptions of "crying it out".  I admit: I haven't read his book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems."  But, I have read a mainstream diluted interpretation "The Ferber Method demystified", complements of BabyCenter.com.

We say that we "ferberized" both our girls.  Our older daughter, we tried the mainstream diluted Ferber recipe at around 7 months old.  It took 3 nights.  After those three excrutiating nights, I could do the whole bedtime routine (bath, book, nurse), then put her into her crib still awake, and she'd go down to sleep by herself.  For our younger daughter, we tried the method at around 13 months old.  It was trickier because the two girls share a room.  It pretty much worked in a few nights.

So, it worked for us.  Did you ferberize?  It's not for everyone.  Maybe my girls are just sleepy-heads, just like me.


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I read a bit of the Ferber book when Fionn was a baby, and it seemed harsh. I read all sorts of scathing criticisms of his method, which I agreed with because I had been totally brainwashed by too many Sears books. We did the family bed, and enjoyed it, until Fionn was 2 and started becoming a fiendish boob addict (because I had unknowingly trained him to nurse to get to sleep). He started getting cavaties from night nursing, and we realized it wasn't really working for anyone anymore. He really needed to be in his own bed to sleep well, and I wasn't getting the signal. Now, at almost 4, he still comes into our room in the middle of the night, and we send him back to his room "'till the sun comes up." We are trying to get ready for the new baby, and I think 4 of us in the bed would drive me insane; I'm such a light sleeper. SO, to finally respond to your post, I am a lot more open to those methods that once seemed so harsh to me. Dental surgery, chronic sleep disturbances, and crabby sex deprived parents are probably more harsh than a few nights of crying.

I'm with you Olivia. Felt terrible at first about letting our little one cry it out (at 6 months) but the result seemed so good, and there seemed so little trauma, that I'm now a firm advocate. I read a lot of anti-cry-it-out stuff early one (which overall made me feel like I'd be producing a needy, insecure child if I used these methods) but my own experience with my relatively independent daughter seems to contradict that thus far. Who knows, maybe someday she'll become needy and insecure, but my gut tells me that three days of crying (that's exactly what it took us too) can't possibly nullify 20 months of love and attention!

We tried this three times before it worked. Why try again if it didn't work the first time, you ask? Well the first two times the little guy got sick (ear infection both times) and it was just feeling torturous to make him wail when he could hardly breathe through his nose. Third time, he was 13 months old and it finally stuck. I think there are many many brain cells I will never get back from all of those sleepless nights...

I am the mother of an 8 month old sleep protester. That's not entirely true - she'll sleep, as long as it's not in her bed. I sometimes wondor what happened to my sleeply little baby who would snooze through anything - and in her own bed. Somewhere along the line it all went wrong. We've tried and failed Ferber's method at least 4 times.

The first time we discovered not only can she pull herself up onto things, she can pull herself up in her crib and rock against the rail as if trying to escape (we dropped the mattress that night) the second night we discovered that not only can the scream the entire 15 mintures but could probably keep going all night. We're weak and we can't stand to her out child cry out for us. She's now learned to break mommy's heart by crying "mommamamama" while lifting her bumper and pressing her little face against the corner of her crib that faces the doorway - sure to catch any glimpse of us peeking in on her. It's torture. We get no sleep and don't know what to do.

My entire family tells me she just needs to cry and that she's got us trained and she's doing it just because she know's we'll come and get her. Maybe she does know that, but we don't know what else to do.

Sorry to ramble. To answer you: Yes we triend it, and no it hasn't worked - yet.

Ella, now almost 2 years, wouldn't sleep to save her life from birth to about 4 months until I got the book, "The No-Cry Sleep Solution", by Elizabeth Pantley. The book teaches you how to get the kid to sleep on their own with out crying it out. She basically talks about creating a comfortable sleep environment, creating a nigh-night routine, and comforting them back to sleep with out picking them up, nursing, etc. It's pretty straightforward, takes longer than a couple days, there is no crying it out, if one perseveres - her methods work. Ella is a great sleeper now -naps and night-night. FYI...

Ugh, the sleep issue. Our son had reflux as a baby so sleep was a definite issue with us. We bought all of the books - I mean ALL of 'em. Baby Whisperer, No Cry Sleep Solution, Healthy Habits Happy Baby - you name it, we own it. We tried to CIO, a little bit of the Ferber method, a little of this, a little of that...Basically we've realized in the end that for us, the books ALL suck (to some extent) and none of those doctors is at home every night caring for our son. Plus really, isn't there enough floating around in the How-To-Parent world to make us feel guilty enough about how we do or don't parent? So we've learned to ignore everything we've ever read in a book. Ethan has a normal routine that we started from 3 months on(lots of play, settle down with some reading, then we take turns putting him to bed reciting the same book), and he goes to sleep with no problem at all. For us, at least, once we stopped questioning our methods and just did what felt right (which is sometimes letting him cry for a few minutes if he wakes in the middle of the night, but if he cries for too long then we go in), his sleep pattern just fell into place.

Nope, it would never work for us. Clara never gets to the "out" part of CIO. She just cries and screams and practically swears at us. In fact, last week, after a full night up with a nasty yeasty diaper rash and a screaming toddler, I had to let her scream in her crib while I just did my best to get some rest. This went on for 2 hours and she never, ever let up. In fact, when she is on a roll, even holding her in bed doesn't neccesarily calm her down. But that's just our kid. We've just learned to check in with new ways of doing things every once in a while and when she's ready, she does it all willingly and happily. I never thought I would ever get her to go to bed awake as she nursed 'till she was 22 months. But she just started doing this last week and it's fine. And frankly, none of this is a shock to me. Her personality is much like that of dh's and mine. She wants things her way and isn't afraid to let you know. ;) The only time she's really led the way on a big independence developmental milestone is with potty training. I've been in denial about it, she's insisting on going potty on the toilet. I have to face the fact that we're smack in the middle of it and do my job.

Can I change my answer?

With some helpful advice from our pediatrician we attempted this again. The first night was rough, the second even worse, but by night three she was making huge progress. Last night at night 5 she slept through the night and hasn't been getting up before 8:30.

It's a little early to claim victory, but we're on the way. She now will play and rest until she falls asleep with no crying at all. It was tough, but we made it and we're all sleeping much better these days.

I think we did a variation on the Ferber thing for our son. Kind of a combo of "baby whisperer" and "babywise" - both of which were recommended by friends. Basically extablished a start the day time, feed every 2-3 hours, keep baby awake for awhile and naptime. When you got to bedtime, you would nurse and put straight to bed, letting baby wake up to nurse. When baby would cry, you'd wait a few minutes to see if it was real crying. If it was, you'd go reassure and then leave. We didn't have too many rough nights, but we started from the very beginning. Since we're a little older, we had the advantage of seeing our friends try all sorts of things and decided which way we thought would work best for us. My husband has an erratic work schedule (nights, days, swing) and we both really cherish our sleep, so we didn't think that a family bed was for us. We also had friends where one of them would get up at every noise baby made and the whole family was exhausted. We're doing the same thing with our 1 month old and so far, so good.

I've got my son sleeping in his crib at night. Not much fussing, just maybe a minute or so of crying and then he's out. But getting him to nap there is something totally different! He will only nap when I lay down with him or if he falls asleep on me. Otherwise he'll cry in his crib for 2 hours straight, with some vomiting in between! It's unreal. It been two weeks. I honestly don't think this is gonna work! i don't know what to do anymore!

I have never let any of my four children cry alone in a crib for one moment, and I never will. My 16 month old still wakes at night to nurse, a lot, but now I know from experience that this is temporary. My (now 14 year old) son slept in the family bed until he was four, and has slept through the night in his own bed since then, the past 10 years. My 2nd and 3rd children (now 6.5 and 4.5) were tandem-nursed as babies and in the bed together with us for their first 4 years each, and now they sleep together in a queen-size bed, all night, and peacefully.
I am SO glad I didn't do the CIO method, it just wasn't right for our family, and I am happy to report loving, independent children who look forward to bedtime, and I also notice a certain sense of trust in our family, though of course I have no idea if it's from our lack of sleep training. I like sleeping near someone at night (and sex hasn't ever been an issue, we are just more creative about time/place) and I feel that babies and children deserve to be near a another human (their mama) at night for the very short time that is their babyhood. I can see I'm in the minority here, but that's why I had to post a comment...I recommend Dr. Jay Gordon's new book called Good Nights, for some great tips from LOTS of parents who exclusively co-sleep.

We're co-sleepers and we Love It. I guess it's seen as extreme by some, naive by others, but it's simply wonderful for us. Our son is 11 months old today, and is one of those happy babies that catch your eye and light up your heart when you see them. Maybe we got lucky, or maybe it's co-sleeping, but we cherish our night-times together.

Whatever works best for your family is what you should do. I hope no one is doing something that is uncomfortable for them because they feel pressured or they question their own instincts.

Our daughter slept with us until she was 14 months and just to big and active in her sleep. At that point, she moved onto a twin mattress pushed up against our bed and about 12 inches lower. She just turned 3 and sleeps in her bed through the night unless her is feeling unwell, then she is welcome to crawl in with us for some cuddling. She sleeps beautifully and wakes up happily telling us about her dreams.

I agree that I don't see the why she should have to sleep alone -- I don't.

The problem with co-sleeping in our house was that no one got to the "sleeping" part. And I never did CIO with either boy, it just didn't feel right to me. There is middle ground out there and it does work!

1- Does it harm my baby if I leave him crying?
If a baby cries because he is in pain or hungry, he feels abandoned, he is asking for help, and he hopes that his parents calm his pain. Once his parents take care of him, he feels he is important for them. This feeds his self steem and improves his own image.
When parents wait for a conduct from the baby (i.e. falling asleep alone) and he does not respond to this expectation, he is trying to show rebelliousness. He is trying to change a normal, expected and healthy conduct for another prejudicial one.
In this case, leaving the baby crying, means that you are putting a limit to this rebelliousness. That is, you are telling him that this is wrong, and that you are expecting from him a different conduct.
- What will you do if your 1 year old child cries because he does not want to take his medicine?
- What will you do if your 2 years old child cries because he is not allowed to draw on the house walls?
- What will you do if your 3 years old child cries because he wants to ride his bike down through a hill?
- What will you do if your 4 years old child cries because he wants to watch TV. till late in the night?

Of course, in all cases, you have to leave him crying, and your child has to learn that there are certain things that he will not be allowed to do since they represent some harm or danger for him.

In the case of the sleep, it is the same thing.

The cry is a tool we have in order to make him learn an expected and normal conduct.
The main purpose of this technique is that the baby learns to fall asleep alone, and that he does not wake up in the night.
The ground for this technique is that the baby appeals to his own resources to fall asleep. It has the additional benefit that parents reinforce their self respect and self trust since they prove themselves that they are capable to show their children a normal and expected conduct and that their children obey them.

There are certain awakenings which are unavoidable. The 15% of children aged less than 9 months keep on waking up twice in the night, even though their parents care about the sleep hygiene and even when the babies sleep alone in their cradles.

There are certain factors which can favor this situation as mother depression, preterm babies, or any alteration in the mother-baby bond.

This 15% is formed by babies nursed by breast feeding as well as ones fed up by formula, although it is more probable that a baby breast fed up keep on waking up longer, at least until the weaning.

Hi! I am a fellow mom who helped my baby learn to sleep after many sleepless months and then started helping countless other families. There is hope!

I started a sliding-scale sleep training consultation business after helping many families get the sleep they needed.

sweet dreams pdx offers in home consultations, followed with email and phone support. You are not alone!

sweet dreams pdx is here to support your family in reaching your sleep training goals.

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