Thursday, June 30, 2011

Still Crying It Out [Chana Lew's Follow Up]

By Chana Lew 
Chana Lew is a mother to 5 sons, 2 daughters and 1 husband - and working on growing up herself. Loves: self-respect, all things birth, informed choice & fresh, clean food. More at

"None of us “have an hour” to put our babies to sleep, but putting a baby to 
sleep is part of being a parent and sometimes it takes longer than we like."


While I agree that there is more than one way to put a baby to sleep, I don’t believe in not responding to a baby’s attempt to communicate.   

Ignoring your child is wrong. Period.
I have ‘successfully’ ferberized some of my own, and I feel terrible about it. It goes against the grain of parental instincts. Why didn't I listen to my inner voice that said "pick your baby up!" I convinced myself that it was "for his own good." I believed that someone else knew better. I fell victim to a decision made out of desperation. Those children did sleep through the night earlier, but I believe there are long term ramifications.

According to a study at Harvard, infants who experienced persistent crying episodes were 10 times more likely to have ADHD as a child, along with poor school performance and antisocial behavior. When babies cry alone and unattended, they experience panic and anxiety. Their bodies and brains are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones.

There is so much trauma that occurs beyond our control. Shouldn’t we do everything in our power to prevent pain and suffering?

None of us “have an hour” to put our babies to sleep, but putting a baby to sleep is part of being a parent and sometimes it takes longer than we like. The time I spend with my baby at night (until she falls asleep) is an investment in her security and my peace of mind. When I sit with my baby, I might catch up on some reading. My husband gets into bed with our 5 year old and learns Rambam until she falls asleep.

Some people call the Ferber method “sleep training”; more appropriately, “training a child to know that you will not respond”.
Richard Ferber himself recanted his statement: "Sleeping alone is an important part of [your child's] learning to be able to separate from you without anxiety and to see himself as an independent individual." He told Newsweek: "That's one sentence I wish I never wrote."

Some 200 years before Richard Ferber ever came to be the Alter Rebbe voiced his opposition at such practices. His son Reb Berel (who became the Mitteler Rebbe) was learning at night and did not hear his baby crying. The Alter Rebbe came and soothed the child and then, in a strong message to his son (and all of us) the Alter Rebbe said: “No matter how important the thing which you are engaged in is, you must always hear the cry of a child.”

I sincerely hope that when our children cry, they feel that we are responsive. I hope we all tune into our maternal instincts. If a decision to Ferberize your child comes intuitively that is far more important than the theory of others. If it’s a logical decision it might warrant some reconsideration.

Looking for other sleep methods? Check out, but mostly go with your gut.

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