Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Monday, June 05, 2006

Back from Vacation and Ready for a Good Night's Sleep

Hello again! Sorry for the extended absence, but in the life of a jet set young New Yorker, these things do happen. (Or perhaps I just had a bought of laziness, you can believe as you like).

Anyway . . .

While I've been on break I've been hearing a great deal in both the media and from parents (they're simply everywhere you go these days!) about new news on the infant sleep front. Last month Dr. Richard Ferber published an updated edition of his famous/infamous book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems which had some of his devoted fans, such as Emily Bazelon, fearing he'd gone soft:
The dismaying advance word about the new edition of Dr. Richard Ferber's totemic book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, was that the nation's best-known sleep expert had gone mushy. Oh no, I thought, feeling betrayed. My husband Paul and I succeeded in training neither of our children according to Ferber's method. Still, his parenting book is read and reread in our house, because we rely on Ferber for backbone. So, it would be traitorous for the doctor to retreat from his claim that it's an act of necessity and virtue to tolerate crying (in precisely measured doses) as your child figures out how to go to sleep at night and stay that way.
So, basically, from what Ms. Bazelon goes on to say, it seems that Ferber is still Ferber. He's softened his delivery only, not his stance on limit setting or the basic idea that it is not a terrible thing to allow your child to cry (up to a point, of course) during the process of getting them to fall asleep on their own.

To be perfectly honest, I don't like the way Ferber's ideas have been distorted and applied to very young infants. In my opinion, children under three months old do not benefit from being allowed to cry for long stretches of time. I'm all for letting your infant child fall asleep in your arms and I simply do not believe that doing so will have an affect on setting up healthy sleep patterns after three months. In my experience, rocking a child to sleep becomes less and less effective with the age of the child. It's natural that the tiny baby who fell asleep so sweetly in your arms at two months will be different at four months when your face and body and voice are more engaging to him than soothing.

However, I am willing to admit that I could be a little bit wrong . . .

Psychologist Ian St. James-Roberts published an article this Monday in the journal Pediatrics which details his experiments with three different sets of sleep strategies--the first experiments ever to offer up real evidence based advice on the matter. He had three sets of parents:
The first group was made up of women in Europe and the United States who were aligned with a natural-mothering network: They held their newborns 15 to 16 hours per day, breast-fed on demand, and co-slept with their babies.

The second group, in London, was much more structured in its approach to baby care, setting up schedules for feeding and naps. Overall, the London parents had about 50 percent less contact with the babies than the "natural-network" moms.

The third group, made up of moms in Copenhagen, Denmark, split the difference between the two more extreme approaches. They carried their babies a lot during the day, but typically did not sleep with them or rock them to sleep and kept a structured sleeping and eating schedule..
The results, put very simply were this: The "natural mothered" babies fussed considerably less during the first few weeks of life, but were horrific about sleeping, even at 10 months most weren't sleeping through the night. The London group's babies cried twice as much during the first weeks but settled into healthy sleep patterns much more easily. The Copenhagen babies were the "just right" group, crying much less than the London babies, but sleeping just as well.

It's really not all the surprising, I suppose, when you get down to it. I'm very quick to point out to parents that elementary school age children simply love rules and structure and are most comfortable when they're getting a great deal of both. I guess babies aren't all that much different.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your are Nice. And so is your site! Maybe you need some more pictures. Will return in the near future.
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