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  • The Ferber Method: Can it Solve Babies’ Sleeping Problems?

    Learn more about the Ferber Method and how it was developed to instill sleeping independence in your child.
    by Rob Del Rosario .
  • baby sleepingRanked on top among the greatest challenges of parenthood is putting baby to bed for an adequate period of time at night. Some parents find this easy, as one may overhear “Oh, we just put her on her crib at seven and she goes to bed just like that…”, to the ire of many who usually take plenty of time, and exhaust one too many methods to put the bundle of joy to bed. Lullaby singing, cradling, gentle pats or rubs – putting baby to sleep is, to many, a ritual. The Mayo Clinic tells us that newborns typically sleep sixteen hours a day in phases of hours at a time. A three month old, five hours at a time is common, and by 6 months, long periods of nine-twelve hours of shut eye is a possibility.  

    For some parents however, this can present to be a literal waking nightmare, as baby seems reluctant to sleep, and resilient to almost every method. Dr. Richard Ferber, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, has quite the controversial idea in his 1985 book, “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems”, revised in 2006.  If you’ve seen the film “Meet the Fockers” (2004), Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman’s characters were talking about how best to put a child to bed. Tough Jack Byrnes (De Niro) claims to have used the Ferber method on his grandson, or letting him cry it out till sleep follows, to the horror of Bernie Focker (Hoffman), insisting that “We hugged and kissed that little prince like there was no tomorrow, we Fockerized him”.  Despite the very humorous tone, some points were raised, such as the benefit of constant physical contact. Although Dr. Ferber himself incorporated many techniques, the fundamental idea of “Ferberizing” for babies beginning the sixth month are these:


    1. You prepare your baby to sleep, through regular rituals.

    2. When it is bedtime, or nap time, the parent/s leave the room.

    3. The parent may return at gradually increasing intervals (such as 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes) to “comfort” the baby without carrying him or her.4. This process is repeated until baby falls asleep well on his own.


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