Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sleep issues, reading Ferber

So against everything I believed, I've been reading the Ferber book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems.  A friend loaned it to me with glowing recommendations, after I confided in her how Cupcake has been waking up so many times at night.   She told me that she was adamantly against CIO (Cry It Out) too, but after actually reading the book, it's much different than the media makes it out to be, and she's been happy with the results.

That's a good recommendation as any, and while I was skeptical, there's no harm in reading a borrowed book.  I can read about how to solve sleep problems while in bed, right?  There's no irony there whatsoever.

It's strange, I was expecting to hate everything about Richard Ferber, but so far I'm just really interested in the entire theory of sleep patterns and how they mature and change as the baby gets older.  It really explains why Cupcake was such a great sleeper when she was younger, and how physiologically her body is changing and causing sleep disturbances.  I like the fact that he's an actual doctor citing her sleep research, and giving actual statistics and data.  One of the things I find frustrating about Parenting books is that they pretend to give you an overall parenting philosophy.   I mean, who are these authors?  Unless they have the credentials to back themselves up, then they are just citing circumstantial evidence and preaching it as facts.

One of the things I liked about Ferber is that he doesn't preach a parenting philosophy.  He shares his sleep research, gives his take on what patterns are emerging in a child's sleep and then gives his recommendation on a potential solution to the "problem."  He also explains which sleep behaviors are normal, which are "normal" but don't have to be, and which can be a cause of concern where parents should begin to look for underlying causes.  He has no opinions on feeding schedules, discipline issues, daytime parenting.. blah blah, he's merely interested in sleep and its patterns.  That's nice.

I'm still not sold on CIO as a viable solution for us.  But reading Ferber's book is making me realize that we have "sleep associations" for Cupcake.  And the rocking her to sleep thing had been working great so far, but it might be keeping her from settling back to sleep at night, now that her body has matured and stays longer times in the light sleep phase.  So we need to create a new sleep association that she can replicate on her own.

So far, we are going to transition slowly.  Rock her for shorter amounts of time, and then set her down when she's drowsy, and then patting her and singing.  There might be some crying, but we need to be there for her.  I can't just leave her on her own, not deliberately if I'm up for dealing with her.  (I've left her to cry before, but that's been on particularly hectic afternoons where I just couldn't handle her anymore and needed some time to regroup.  I can't see myself leaving her to cry alone as a methodology.  Not yet, at least).  Hopefully, this will help her fall asleep without needing to be rocked, so when she wakes at night, she can resettle without our help.  A girl can wish.

I should add that I've been reading the new edition of the Ferber book.  It's my understanding that the original 1985 version was much harsher and dogmatic.  In fact, he has an entire chapter in this book devoted to "explaining" himself and how his ideas were misunderstood.  The new edition is much warmer and caring, emphasizing a loving night time routine and a need for the baby to feel constantly loved and reassured by their parents.  It is also incredibly open to co-sleeping, bed sharing and all styles of parenting.  The book explains how to apply new sleep associations for every family arrangement, which is refreshing.  I don't like being told what to do, but I appreciate someone giving me the tools to apply my own solutions.

Who would've thought I'd be okay with Ferber?   More on our sleeping saga as it progresses.

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