Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Ferberizing

As I have said before, A was never a good sleeper. I think he might have been a better one if he had slept on his belly, but we were just not ready to take that chance...
 Anyway, things are always tough at the begining and we knew that, but when the sleep thing is supposed to settle down (around four months), A's sleep actually got worse! He went from sleeping for four hour stretches at night to waking up almost every hour and sometimes every half-hour after 2am. Of course, by that point, I was back to work full-time and my Mom was back in France. Needless to say, those were incredibly trying times for both SleepyPapa and I...
A was not trying to eat (at that point I was not feeding him overnight anymore), or party, he just wanted to be put back to sleep and did not know how to fall back asleep on his own. By the way, sleeping in our bed did not make any difference, he would still wake up.

Many told us to let him cry (including our then-pediatrician, but that's a story for another post), but SleepyPapa and I agreed that we didn't think it was fair to let a child that young cry himself to sleep. So we tried some other options, my mom flew back to the rescue (as I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown) and we followed the "no-cry sleep soluion" method by Elizabeth Pantley. A made a lot of progress on this method, but we were never able to complete the final part.
 In the meantime, I read Dr Ferber's book (for those of you who might not know, it's a method in which you let your child cry, but you check in and calm them down at regular intervals). Dr Ferber does not recommend applying the method before the baby is 6 months old. I do believe it's important to wait until your child is old enough to understand that you are still there, in the house, even if you're not right in front of him, so that he/she does not feel abandonned.
Anyway, we decided that this was our last option. At that point, A was almost 8 months old. Many people had told us it only took their child two nights of the method to become amazing sleepers for the rest of his/her life...
The actual training turned out not to be as bad as we thought it would be, and A did start to sleep better. But it was no miracle cure either...

For us, the method's effects only last for about a week and then we have to do it again. On top of that, anytime your child is sick (which happens to us fairly often since A is prone to ear infections), you have to start over again. So in the end, we've had to let him cry quite a bit over the past year. When he gets really angry, he can cry for two hours straight (which a. makes us feel guilty, b. keeps us awake).
Recently, after another bout of ear infections, I was talking to A and telling him that he should sleep through the night, because everybody sleeps through the night and that's what he's supposed to do. To which he answered "Maman sleeps, Papa sleeps, A cries".
So we are starting to reconsider this all crying it out thing, because it certainly has not brought us to the promised land.
Here's what we have come up with recently, that seems to work just as well without the crying part:
- if A wakes up once, SleepyPapa goes in and tells him to go back to sleep (sometimes, that's enough)
- if A wakes up more than once, I may go and sleep on the floor in his room (in recent experience, A falls back asleep, stays asleep through the night and actually sleeps through the night with no intervention on our part for the following nights).
You may think that's a silly solution, but we all sleep through the night, no one cries and we reach the same result, so why not?
- when A wakes up after 4:30 or 5am, he just comes in our bed, which we recently switched to a King Size so we can all sleep happily together.

I do have to say that I do not regret doing the Ferber method; at that point in our lives it was necessary and it did improve A's sleep. I just don't think it's a viable method for us in the long run.

Have you tried this method? Are you for or against it? What do you do to get your child to sleep through the night?


  1. Question: comme je refuse de lire un livre de plus sur les méthodes parce que j'éstime que c'est très nefaste sur le moral.... est ce ferber marche avec tétine? moi je me lève pour donner a Charlie sa tétine et la calmer un peu et j'éspace mes allez et venues est ce que ca compte ou alors c'est s'endormir seule sans tétine?

  2. En fait, Dr Ferber c'est le grand specialiste du sommeil des enfants a Children's Hospital a Boston, donc c'est pas une methode simpliste inventee par une nounou, son bouquin explique vraiement bien comment marche le sommeil des enfants, il y a aussi des trucs sur les cauchemards et les problemes des ados, c'est un tres bon livre..
    bref, tu peux faire Ferber avec tetine (A a encore ses tetines, nous lui en mettons 3 dans son lit qui brillent la nuit, comme ca il peut les retrouver tout seul).L'idee c'est que la premiere nuit tu y vas apres 3 minutes de pleurs, puis 5 minutes, mais pas plus la premiere nuit. quand tu y vas, tu n'es pas censee les sortir du lit, juste une petite caresse en leur disant que ca va, papa et maman sont la, mais il faut dormir maitenant, etc... il ne faut pas rester plus de 2 minutes, et surtout ,il faut repartir avant qu'ils ne se rendorment car l'idee centrale c'est de leur aprendre a se rendormir tout seul.le 2e nuit, tu commences avec 5 minutes, puis toutes les 10 minutes. 3e nuit, 10 puis 15. voila l'idee, mais il me semble que tu avais fait un truc similaire avec Margot, non?