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Is it still possible to Ferberize a one-year-old?

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02/22/2007

You asked an excellent question and one many parents are considering because they are worn out! Simply put mothers are divided on Dr. Ferber's "Ferberization", but it's become popular and given many parents some sleep. Some people misinterpret Dr. Ferber's suggestions to "Ferberize babies" (which should start when the baby is a couple of months old.) If you think of it when a baby is born some will cry as they are almost out of the birth canal while other babies may have to be turned upside down and a little tap on the bottom for the baby to cry. Most parents ARE waiting for "that cry" to assure them their baby is just fine. So why the problem with your baby crying in their crib constantly? I believe because it's a fear within the mother in particular (maternal instinct) that if a baby can cry so often something must be terribly wrong and the mother worries. There is also a natural mechanism in mothers to hear the slightest noise their baby may make and thus she gets little sleep and is worn out and cranky and not much use to herself, her husband or other children in the family. Crying is GOOD for your baby and is natures way of strengthening the lungs. However, what is too much crying to the point of neglect? So many mothers have written in saying they have had it because they've had little to no sleep and are ready to flip out. What Dr. Ferber is suggesting is this: Don't get your child use to sitting out with you when the TV is on. Don't rock your child to sleep every night before putting them in their crib. Put the child into their crib and spend a few minutes with them. Coo and talk to them as you are putting them to bed. If they are fussy and having a tantrum then let them cry for 10 minutes at a time TO START WITH. DO NOT pick up the child!!! Fix their blankets, rub their cheek and talk in a soft voice just to let them know you are there for them. Babies are smart and they can get into a schedule very quickly. There has been a study done on this. Also there is a sleep study done on very young children (babies of course are included) and there is no problem with letting your baby cry for a bit. Don't get into the habit of feeding your child too much during the night because they will wake up and want to be fed again (this is NOT including newborns!) They may want some water so go in and give it to them, but be sure your make the POINT of letting them know other than being ill they are not coming out of that crib! NEVER bring the child to bed with you (isn't it odd if you do they fall right off to sleep!) In little ones such as yours if the occasional time they may have a nightmare then you should go into their room, rub them, kiss them and coo and let them know you are there. Other than that DON'T lift them out of the crib. It may take a week or two, but your child will learn quickly. Dr. Ferber is nothing new. My mother knew about this and probably your mother did as well. If you pick up a baby every single time they cry then they will not get the sleep they need and you have one heck of a mess on your hands such as yourself being fed-up and worn out. As long as the baby has been fed, they have clean diapers on, and they have no fever or colic then the baby stays in that crib at night! NEW WAVE RAISING OF BABIES: I talk to many of my friends that are now grandmothers and we roll our eyes at the mess some child-rearing books have made as far as putting the fear of God into every young mother on the planet. Now there are antibacterial gels before you handle the baby. Excuse me! Babies have been raised since man existed and my mother certainly didn't run off to rub antibacterial gel on her hands before she handled my brother and I and we never got anything but the normal childhood diseases such as measles and mumps, etc. Now it has been decided that BABIES ARE LAID ON THEIR BACKS! I absolutely disagree with this method and when I heard this from my girlfriends daughter-in-law at her shower I was shocked! I said nothing because I felt it was up to grandma to say something, but thankfully the new mother saw the look of shock on my face and asked me why I thought it was a bad idea. I told her babies spewed up milk often and that laying a baby on their back they could well choke. She said that a nurse said that the vomit would roll out naturally from the side of the baby's mouth!!!! HUH? Am I hearing correctly here and is any mother going to take that chance? I should hope not! Her girlfriend was there with her 4th baby and agreed with me. Babies also have soft heads so they should be propped on one side to the other and on their tummies for short periods of time. Since then this young mother has been doing that and all is well. I have no idea why someone writes a book and decides their method is the best when women have been raising babies just fine for thousands of years. I suggest you use your common sense and start a sleeping schedule for your child. Pick a time you feel your child should go to bed. Play with them a little instead of cuddling them before they go to bed and during the day (make the time) take your baby for a stroll to get fresh air (this also helps them to sleep just like the rest of us.) At the beginning let your child (1 year old) cry for 10 minutes and then go in. Talk to them, kiss them, brush them with your hand, then leave the room. Do this for a week to 10 days and then lengthen the time. I have no doubt your child will start to fall asleep without waking you up. It's a good idea to tip toe in off and on to be sure your child is not running a fever or has diarrhea, but not every 10 minutes. You can put a radio in the bedroom with very low soothing music which will help, but not loud enough where you can't hear your child cry over the baby monitor. Don't be afraid to make noise around your house (within reason) because this lets the child know "mommy is around" and it's a soothing source and much easier on the parents or any older children. So many parents tip toe through the tulips in fear of waking their child up. If your child experiences nightmares then go into the room and soothe them, but if they are really frightened the odd night of sleeping with you won't hurt. I suffered from the "bogyman complex" at age 3 - 4 and would run to my parents room and they always allowed me to sleep between them, but, they would eventually put me to bed once I fell asleep. I agree/disagree with Dr. Ferber because children need to feel safe and secure. He is saying not to let your child get into bad habits by picking them up every time they feel the need (one mother said and I quote "I'm in that room every 5 minutes and who is the parent here and who is the child!" She gradually stopped doing this and finally had some peace and a good nights sleep. In the 40s and 50s Dr. Spock seemed to have all the answers for rearing babies and my mother literally ended up throwing the book out the back door and used her own common sense. Many years later after Dr. Spock passed away his children remarked in an interview "While our father was so great at giving mothers advice he messed up his own children!" Babies are more resilient than you think and I know most mothers want the very best for their child, but allowing a child to cry for 10 minutes isn't going to hurt them. Good luck