Dr Richard Ferber was the first to propose the idea of ‘controlled crying’ in 1985. Since then it has taken on many names such as, cry it out, self-soothing, sleep training, crying down and many more. Some techniques vary slightly in the details but they all work along the same basic principal as Ferber first proposed.
There are few baby-related issues that evoke as much controversy as this one. Some big names in the field frequently have fiery exchanges because of their conflicting points of view. Many will remember Gina Ford and Dr Miriam Stoppard for example, who had a fierce debate on The Today Programme over the issue.
For those of you who have read my post on Cry it Out you will be aware of my personal opinion on the matter. It’s my contention that in the first six months newborn babies have legitimate night-time needs and it is the parent’s duty to satisfy these needs. Obviously, this means some sleepless nights in the beginning. Parenting is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) things we will ever do and I just think trying to take a shortcut is a typical reflection of our modern lives, with our impatience and obsession for convenience often dicating our actions. Yes, the technique will definitely help you and your baby sleep longer hours through the night but at what cost? The point is that nobody knows for sure and I for one wouldn’t be prepared to take the risk of causing the emotional and psychological damage that many experts claim is a genuine possibility.
However, it is down to you, the parents, to decide whether it is worth the risk or not. I would never be so naive and arrogant as to try and tell you what to do. The purpose of this blog is merely to advise on both sides of the argument to allow you to make an informed decision about what is right for your situation. For example, healthy babies need healthy parents and you might be getting such a poor quality of sleep that you decide controlled crying is the lesser of two evils.
It is important that I make it very clear that my objection to the Ferber method applies to the baby’s first six months only. After this period, if baby is putting on weight well and is in good health then I think there is a place for controlled crying (or one of its derivatives) to solve sleep-related problems. For further information you might be interested in reading Dr Richard Ferber’s book, ‘Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems.’
Tomorrow I will conclude this post by detailing the best way to perform the controlled crying technique. The Ferber Method Part Two.