I think nowadays, most new parents have heard of the infamous “Ferber Method” of allowing children to fall asleep by controlling the amount of time between “comforting interventions.” Dr. Richard Ferber’s theory, is that babies will learn to self-comfort after a series of increasing intervals of parental comforting, each interval getting increasingly longer until the child finally sleeps through the night, unassisted by parents. Well, Dr. Ferber does not live at my house, and if he did, he would have had his bags packed and be waiting at the front door for the next bus outta town long ago!
A few months ago, on the prompting of our concerned parents, my husband and I decided that it was high time we get our son to sleep in his own bed. Afterall, he is a restless sleeper, and we were getting rather tired of being clocked in the face night after night by a flailing arm, leg, or the worst, his head! I was still nursing Liam at the time, and had found the nightly nursing sessions much easier when I simply brought him into bed with us, and allowed him to nurse himself back to sleep. The only problem was that Liam had taken a liking to bed sharing, and no longer wanted to sleep in his crib, where he knew he was alone. One *horrible* night, about 3 months ago, we decided to “bite the bullet” and “Ferberize” our poor son! Unbeknownst to us at the time, this night would go down in history as the worst night ever known to new parents (well, okay, maybe not the worst night, but it was pretty darn ugly!)
We started the night as usual. I nursed Liam to sleep, and when he woke around midnight, we delayed going to see him for a few extra minutes longer than we normally would. Needless to say, Liam cried. After a few minutes, of escallating volume, we went in to reassure him that he was okay, then said goodnight and left. The intervals between each comforting visit to him in his crib got longer, and longer, and Liam’s crying got louder and louder. In the articles that I have read, nowhere does it suggest that some babies will indeed scream for five straight hours during the introduction of the Ferber Method, nor does it warn you that there are children that will cry so violently, that they drip with sweat, and are on the verge of vomiting, but Liam was all of these things. Our sleepless night of trips back and forth to his room to provide comfort were completely in vain, and finally after listening to heart-wrenching cries for over five hours, we buckled, and brought him back to our bed, where he fell fast asleep within a few short minutes. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my husband and myself. I think we both could have used a good stiff drink by that point!
To this day, I am not sure who this approach was harder on, Liam or his bewhildered parents. I have spoken with some of my peers with children the same age as our son, who have found the Ferber method to be a great success in their homes, after much shorter and calmer bouts of crying. There are also those lucky buggers, who’s children take to the crib so naturally, like a fish does to water. You know who you are, and stop grinning!
I am a firm believer that what is good for the goose, isn’t necessarily good for the gander. All children are different. No two babies are carbon copies in personality, and it seems that with Liam, we have on our hands one extremely strong-willed child!
In the big book of Mommy No-No’s, is doing things which just don’t feel right. You have to trust your instincts sometimes, and follow your heart (cheesy yes, but true) My instincts told me that the Ferber Method was not going to work for our family, and indeed, it did not. Sometimes, listening to the advice of others is the right thing to do, and sometimes it isn’t.
So, as I write this post, our son is in his bed, sweetly sleeping, rosy-cheeked, warm and likely dreaming of toys, walks outside and chasing cats…
Well, to be honest, he is in *our* bed, but for the time being, it works. Finding a comfort zone is what it’s all about, and from the looks of things, he’s pretty comfy!