My husband and I disagree on how to handle our daughter, 13 months, when she refuses to go to bed. I rock her, sing to her, read to her, talk to her, and hope to god that she falls asleep in my arms, and stays asleep after I put her down. He does the same. BUT - if she doesn't stay asleep, I say we need to let her cry it out for a few minutes. He says there's absolutely no reason to make her cry herself to sleep. I work full time, as does hubby, and we do not have two hours each night to put her to bed. Yes, that's how long it takes! Where do we draw the line when it comes to letting her cry it out?
From: TooTired, Lowell
The idea of letting a child cry him/herself to sleep (commonly known as Ferberizing after Richard Ferber, the internationally-recognized, Boston-based pediatrician/sleep specialist) is a bit of a misnomer. Here are his own words, from an interview I had with him in 2006:
`` "The baby falls asleep with one set of conditions, being rocked in daddy's arms, and then the parents sneak him into the crib and leave the room. When the youngster wakes up [in the natural course of a sleep pattern], everything feels wrong: `Where am I? What happened?' " Instead of falling back to sleep, the baby is jarred into a more fully awake state. ``Now the parents have to re - create the conditions, and a cycle begins out of the best of intentions."
"The remedy, he says, ``is for a child to learn to fall asleep under the same conditions that will exist when he wakes up."
"Yes, in the course of changing conditions, a baby will likely cry. The revised edition [``Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" (Fireside)] recommends allowing for shorter crying periods, three minutes instead of five on the first night, 5 instead of 10 on the second night, and 10 instead of 15 on the third.'"
With this in mind, the trick is to put her down in the crib BEFORE she falls asleep in your arms, so that when she wakes up, she isn't surprised to be in the crib. When she cries, go back in but DON"T pick her up. Rub her back and murmur sweet nothings, "You can go back to sleep all by yourself, I know you can. I'll stay here with you until you do."
Do that for a few nights. Then move your chair a few inches from the crib, rub her back once or twice and just whisper to her. Eventually, you will be able to move the chair farther and farther away, all the way to the doorway and then the hall, and then you will be able to call to her from your bed: "Honey, you're OK. You can go back to sleep."
Yes, this is time-consuming in the beginning. Maybe it will even take two hours. Don't do it unless you both agree to it and you have the resolve to follow through. Here's the good news: It will break the cycle.
A variation is to leave the room before she falls back to sleep. She will be angry and she will cry. Stay three to five minutes, as Ferber suggests above. When you go back in, repeat the action, telling her you know she can go back to sleep. Rub her back again, and then leave again. Repeat.
For Ferber, getting a child to sleep, or back to sleep, is all about timing -- is the child tired enough to sleep at the designated bedtime? -- and scheduling -- how many naps has he had? Looking at that almost always turns up a solution that typically involves some tweaking parents simply hadn't considered. Parents who consult him -- he's available at Children's Hospital, but be warned, it can take three or four months to get an appointment -- are almost always thrilled with his results.
The author is solely responsible for the content.