If you have seen the movie “Meet the Fockers” you will already have some idea of what Ferberizing is. Robert De Niro, playing the role of the grandfather tries “The Ferber Method” to persuade his young grandson to go to sleep.
It’s hard to know if American paediatrician, Dr. Richard Ferber, had any idea just how controversial and popular his sleep training techniques for children would become. Ferber’s book, “Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems”, was written in the mid-eighties and has been credited with improving the sleep of millions of children. A revised edition published in 2006 acknowledges the changes in our understanding of children’s sleep.
Ferberizing is a series of steps which parents take to encourage their baby to go to sleep on their own. It works on the principles of:
Parents are advised to not try Ferber sleep training until their baby is 4-6 months old. Little babies cannot change their behaviour because of how they are cared for. It is unrealistic for parents to expect changes before their baby is emotionally and physically ready.
You should be able to notice an improvement in your baby’s sleep within a week. Extend this to two weeks if you take a more relaxed approach. The Ferber Method relies on parents being consistent, firm and loving each time you return to reassure your child. But success relies on parents not deviating from their settling routine.
Ferber’s techniques have received a lot of criticism since they were first developed. Many parents and professionals who work with children subscribe to the “No Cry” approach, feeling that all crying should be a prompt for parents to respond to their child immediately. Some parents are very concerned that leaving their crying baby disrupts their emotional development and sense of security. Others say it works so well for them that they don’t really mind. Using any settling method is about personal choice and what will work for your family.
The first generations to be “Ferberized” are now in their early 20’s and appear to be just fine. They aren’t easily recognized as a group who have major issues with separation or who have disrupted relationships with their parents. However, there has been significant research around the subject of children’s emotional development and attachment in the last 10-15 years and Ferber has revised his original philosophies to include:
N.B. Your child’s personality and temperament will impact on the way they settle to sleep. Children with developmental problems or who are particularly vulnerable or sensitive would probably benefit from other settling methods.
Fashions in settling management come and go and although The Ferber Method has been out of favour for a while, it is probably only a matter of time until it comes back into vogue.
Ferberization is just one of many options available to parents.