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Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide for Parents Paperback – 17 Apr 1986
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When your child isn't sleeping, chances are that you aren't either. Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems--the tired parent's essential reading for more than 10 years--offers valuable advice and concrete help when lullabies aren't enough to lull your child into dreamland. Based on Ferber's research as the director of Boston's Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital, the book is a practical, easy-to-understand guide to common sleeping problems for children aged one to six. Detailed case histories on night waking, difficulty sleeping and more serious disorders such as sleep apnea and sleepwalking help illustrate a wide variety of problems and their solutions. New parents will benefit from Ferber's proactive advice on developing good sleeping patterns and daily schedules to ensure that sleeping problems don't develop in the first place. You'll also find a bibliography of children's books on bedtime, sleep and dreaming, as well as a list of helpful organizations. Here's a book that is sure to put you and your whole family to sleep--in this case, that's a good thing.
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That all said, you have to listen to your child and go with what your child is ready for. The first time we tried this technique, our son was 9 months old and had developed a mean case of separation anxiety. Developmentally he just wasn't ready for this, and sure enough, it didn't work. We waited and tried it again when he was 17 months old, and it worked like a charm! Sure enough, within 3 nights he was either sleeping through the night, or was only waking up once and was quick to go back down to sleep.
This strategy isn't a miracle though, as I sometimes think we expected it to be. Things will disrupt your child's sleep, even after you've done "sleep training." Long holidays, illnesses, moves, basically anything that disrupted my son's sleep schedule sent him back to poor sleep habits. And, we'd have to do this all over again. The positive was that he knew what was going on and was relatively quick to adapt and get back on his sleep schedule. We thought of it as our sleep baseline, and were happy to have the tools to get him back to his baseline. Another positive is that these skills work well into toddlerhood. Our son is 3 1/2 years old now. We combine many of these strategies with sticker charts and other rewards, for a very effective "sleep programme."
We now have an infant daughter who is 4 months old. A recent overseas trip and the beginning of teething are ruining her sleep. We are eagerly looking forward to the point when she is developmentally ready to do sleep training as well. We are confident it will be successful (and note, we started off co-sleeping with her, which worked well for a while. In preparation for sleep training, we have moved her into her cot in her room, and one of us sleeps next to the cot in a bed. She has grown to love her cot and room, and so we feel confident about us moving out of her room and beginning sleep training when she's ready. We did a similar approach with our son. I think the bottom line is that a combination of approaches CAN work).
Lastly, this approach isn't for everyone. If you can do other non-cry-it-out methods and they work, then by all means, don't bother with this approach. Sleep training is hard and doesn't feel gentle. Many babies respond naturally to feeding/sleeping routines espoused in other books, and that is fantastic. But, many babies do not, and everyone suffers. If your baby isn't sleeping well, despite all your best efforts, then this is a great technique. Another bonus, once your child has better sleep habits, it's a lot easier to tell when something is wrong (e.g., waking up in the middle of the night means something is amiss, rather than trying to sort out if it's just another natural wake-up or whether something is wrong).
Scouring the internet for advice and tips, I was always coming across the same view - that making your baby cry for long periods of time was cruel and damaging. Every mother I spoke to who sympathised with me seemed to fall into one of two groups. Those who felt the same as the views on the internet - leaving a baby to cry is cruel, or those who had not been able to do anything to improve their child's sleep, and put up with it for another year or more. I was not prepared to leave it, and so, influenced by the 'crying is cruel' brigade, I tried the 'No Cry Sleep Solution'. But it didn't work for me, even though I followed all the advice and stuck with it for two months. It made things worse. My baby cried anyway, because he always cries when he is tired.
Yes - it is tough leaving your baby to cry, but you may as well get used to it. As children get older, they get even more gifted at working your heart strings. You need to learn now where to draw the line and be strict. If you can do this, it will improve your confidence as a parent no end. You need to take control. Once your baby is sleeping soundly every night, and waking up with smiles of love, you won't be feeling cruel anymore. My baby is also starting to nap better in the day as well! It's just a few days or a week of difficulty at the most, and then you have your problems solved. Some have managed it in just a day.
What I like about Ferber is his no nonsense approach. He clearly describes the different types of sleep problem scenario. You identify which one fits your scenario, and take the appropriate action. This guy has a hell of a lot of experience of sleep problems, and I trust his judgement.
I've got a newborn now (7 yrs later) & want to start off on the right foot this time. I'd recommend it (I've given it as a present several times...)
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