The Ferber Method

As discussed in class, the Ferber Method of putting children to sleep is not recommended and is very disruptive to the child’s emotional development. The Ferber method doesn’t actually put children to sleep or teach them how to fall asleep on their own; the method serves to teach children that despite their cries and tantrums, the parent will not soothe them to sleep and the child has to figure out on their own how to deal with it and sleep. It might sound like what parents are supposed to do by not giving in to a child’s tantrum but in this scenario, things are different. The child is not doing anything inappropriate, he’s just having difficulty falling asleep or doesn’t want to sleep at all. What the child needs is help; not the “giving-in” of the parent and receiving something.

The Ferber method involves the parent putting the child to bed and then checking on the child at specfic time intervals during the night; these time intervals increase as the night progresses and as the week goes by until the child eventually understands that despite crying and angry fits, the parent will not give in and rock the child to sleep. It is not recommended for children under 6 months of age because they are still feeding during the night; nor is it recommended for children with condition fear of being left alone in their bed or vomitting responses; nor for children who sleep problems such as sleep pattern disorders, snoring, sleepwalking, etc. There are many methods to help treat sleep disorders that are much better and specific to the problem and the Ferber method should not be used in those cases.

Some of the problems with the Ferber method include the fact that there isn’t much research done on possible side effects on children who were left to cry and fend for their own to fall asleep. Researchers don’t know the consequences caused by the separation anxiety and distress from the Ferber method. People are worried that method affects the child’s stress response levels, parent attachment, emotional development, and also the child’s developing personality.  Also the results from people who approve of the Ferber method are not based on controlled settings and observations. For example, the temperament of the child is important to take into account for how the effective the Ferber method would be for child compared to a different tempered chld.

In other words, if you want to get your child to fall asleep on a schedule, it’s not recommended to use the Ferber method at all; there are plenty other better methods to help your child learn ways to fall asleep that are less stressful and emotionally damaging to the child. For example, you can do positive routines with the child to help associate certain activities with bed time, such as dimming the lights in the evening, avoiding high-energy activities, and avoiding caffeine or hard to digest foods before bed time.

Kathy Phan


~ by phankathy on October 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Ferber Method”

  1. Wow I didn’t even know this was really a method of getting a child to sleep. I know some parents ignore thier children when crying, I just didn’t know that it was suggested! I think that is so sad for those kid that get ignored, they are crying for a reason.

  2. That last post was by Lisa Tamburrino :)

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