|Trade paperback, 440 pages|
Published 2006 (original ed.: 1985)
Borrowed from the library
Read June 2019
Our baby would basically only go to sleep two ways: being nursed or moving (e.g., rocking, walking, swing, stroller, car). This meant he was co-sleeping at night and for many of his at-home naps. As he hit 25 pounds, he became impossible for me to put to sleep, as he was too big for the swing, and he was uncomfortable to carry around. But placing him in his crib for a moment resulted in tears.
After two times where he fell out of our bed after sleeping in it, we decided to do sleep training for his safety and health. (He was about ten months at this time.) A little bit of research, and I felt like Ferber's "graduated extinction" method seemed like a good fit for us, and the local library had his book. I'm glad I read it, because even though I had read brief explanations of the Ferber method on-line, the actual book explains why it works; the discussion of sleep associations was in particular very useful for making us understand exactly what we were doing. The first night felt rough; he took about 45 minutes of constant screaming before he fell asleep around 8:45pm, and then he woke up at midnight and didn't go back down until 4am! But subsequent nights got better, and though (I write this about two weeks in) he still cries when going into the crib, he's usually asleep before the first check, and when he wakes up crying, he puts himself back to sleep. As I guess so many parents say, we were surprised how easy it was! Hopefully he continues to improve.
The one downside is that Ferber has very little discussion of nap training, just saying to do basically the same thing as at night. On day one of nap training, we couldn't get him down for his morning nap in 30 minutes; Ferber says to give up at that point. We tried for longer that afternoon, and he took a very short one. But the next day we could not get him to nap at all and he was cranky and sleep deprived and utterly terrified of every aspect of his bedroom. Ferber provided no insight, seemingly believing your baby would catch on quickly enough that this wouldn't be an issue. Some Googling for "ferber naps" brought me a recommendation for The Sleepeasy Solution, which the library also had. It's basically an un-cited rip-off of Ferber (the authors' claim to expertise is that they're sleep consultants to famous Hollywood people, as though having been hired by Ben Stiller is somehow meaningful), but there is a more extended discussion of naps, which suggests waiting to do nap training until nighttime sleep training is well established.* I also skimmed Good Night, Sleep Tight by the self-proclaimed "Sleep Lady" who suggests that if you are delaying nap training, try to put your baby to sleep other ways than the association you are trying to break. (So we've been using the stroller during the day when we can, because the primary association we want to break is nursing in bed.)
But other than that deficiency, Ferber has been a real useful guide for us. He's matter-of-fact, thankfully not fluffy, and empirical, but he's sensitive to the emotions involved. Plus he gives you nice charts to fill out! If you think total cry-it-out is too much, and you want to understand the why of sleep training, not only the how, this is the book.
* I found the book hard to take seriously when it suggested thinking really hard at your baby when he's crying it out during graduated extinction, so he can receive your good vibes.