Baby Sleep Issues

This is probably rather late considering the article was dated a few years back.  The background is this : for years, there have been two main camps on how to handle baby’s sleep issues.  The first being the ‘Feber-isers’.  They are the parents who are ardent follower of Dr Richard Ferber’s “Controlled Crying” method to train a baby to fall asleep on his own.  The other group follow Dr William Sear’s Attachment Parenting approach, which basically advocates meeting the baby’s needs/demands even if it means staying up all night with a baby who refuses to go to sleep.   Both camps are at each other’s throat all these years and the amount of quarrels in the cyberspace over this is incredible.

Studies after studies, research after research, all have been done and said to prove or disprove that one is better than the other and I think the Ferber camp got the most flake, partly due to the great popularity of Attachment Parenting in recent years and because it does go against the grain of being a parent to ignore a crying child.

I have read Dr Ferber’s book and I think he was not clear on how his method might work.  For instance, it was not clear whether there should be certain age restriction for using his method.  Clearly, his method is not likely to work on a young infant because object permanence is not developed yet.  This means that these young ones are not capable of understanding ‘I am still around although you can’t see me’ and likely to get really distressed.  Yet, this is not clearly explained in his book.  If you read the case studies given, if my memory does not fail me (I can’t verify for I have already given away my copy of the book), they dealt with kids at least 16 months old. A desperate parent reading his book may not think clearly enough to realise this and the result could be indiscriminate implementation of the controlled crying method on a very young baby.
Years after publishing their first books, the ‘experts’ concerned had apparently changed their tune a bit.  Please read this article for more information.

Both of them softened their tone and moved towards a more balanced approach.  I think most discerning parents will be thinking ‘I knew it all along after all’.  This is a classic case of ‘listening to the so-called experts, or not’.  I wonder what other people in the camps must feel, especially the die-hard fans who went through the whole nine yards implementing the experts’ advice.  There probably would be some really panda-eyed moms out there now asking ‘you mean I didn’t have to put up with all those years of sleepless night after all???”  There probably would be some who wondered why they put their babies and themselves through the heart wrenching process of ‘Crying It Out’ (CIO for short).

My point is this : While it is not wrong to read up, follow some experts’ advice, ultimately, we have to use our discernment and judgement and well, follow our instinct.  Experts make mistake too.  Experts are also prone to change their minds.  What they say are not necessarily true or best all the time.

I have 3 sleepless babies.  Correction : #2 slept through the night at 3 months+ all on his own without us following any special method but was terrible at day time naps.  Anyway, I know what the desperation feels like.  #1 was ‘Ezzo’ baby but he did not sleep through for the 1st year.  #2 was not ‘Ezzo’ but he slept through all on his own.   I can’t say I have a solution. In fact, I do not think there is a solution.  I have read all sorts of baby sleep book.  in the end, my conclusion is : it really depends on the baby.  At some point in time, parental intervention would be helpful, of course.  Otherwise, during the first year especially, one basically can do nothing more than ‘going with the flow’.  If one implement a method and it actually works, chances are, it is not so much the method but the child.
**Ezzo advocates scheduled feeding and gets a lot of flake for causing baby dehydration. He claims that by 10 weeks, the baby should be able to sleep through the night if the parents follow the scheduled feeding method.  Frankly, I think some parts of his method are useful.  As for the scheduled feeding, exercise some common sense and one should be fine.  I, for one, would not have succeeded at breastfeeding #1 if I did not implement his method.  Subsequent kids were all fed on demand because I was too tired to bother with methods anymore.