“To Sleep”: Part II

In August, I wrote about sleep issues and their solutions for older children. Recent clamorings about “ferberizing” have moved me to comment about baby sleep issues in part II of “To Sleep Perchance To Dream.”

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Headlines across America recently have blared: “Ferber Softens His Stance.” Sleep guru Dr. Richard Ferber, Director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston, is best known for his guide for parents titled, “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.” Initially published in 1985, the tome resonated with parents looking for a good night’s sleep, and millions have been “ferberizing” their babies ever since. Widely simplified as the “letting-them-cry-it-out” method, Ferber’s book offered practical advice based on sound research. The heart of the method actually is about encouraging positive sleep associations, not ignoring your child (as attachment-parenting advocates i.e. Dr. Bill Sears have wrongly promoted). Attachment parenting, which is over-simplified as “wear your child all the time and respond to every peep,” has its time and place, and of course, there’s a middle ground. Which is basically what Dr. Ferber is now clarifying. And that’s news? It just goes to show you how desperate parents are to get some solid shut-eye.

Which brings us to the pronouncements by the American Academy of Pediatrics at their annual meeting in October. Based on epidemiologic research on the S.I.D.S prevention front, the AAP came out against co-sleeping with your baby and for pacifiers. Both raised the ire of several groups, including the aforementioned attachment parenting folks, who strongly advocate for family beds and no-pacifier/breastfeeding-only positions. As usual, safety comes first, but I believe that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Epidemiologic research does not take into account individual circumstances; each family must make their own decision. One thing is certain, though – everyone likes to sleep.

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