Ferberization continues


This little man has not been very happy since we landed back in Melbourne. In an earlier post written a week ago (has it already been a week?!!!!!!), I had written about our bold move to sleep train Benji using the Ferber/Controlled Comforting method. Thanks to all who commented on the post and encouraged me to stick with it. Personal friends of mine and Bry’s also cheered us for trying out this technique, swearing by its efficacy.

We FINALLY saw *some* improvement tonight, on night number 6. Benji fell asleep after 30 minutes of crying, versus 50 to 60 minutes the last five nights. Okay, I *sorta* lied about us being on night 6 of this journey. Early on, we did not follow all the steps of this method to the tee. For the first couple days, we still made nursing the last activity before his bedtime, and I still had quite a bit of skin contact with Benji during the intervals I went in to comfort him (tho I was always able to resist the urge to carry him). We did not realize how stubborn this little guy could be, and how crucial it was to play by the rules! There were also a few early morning wake-ups before that went on for almost an hour that just broke me, and I caved and either fed him or held him to sleep.

Two days ago, we made the executive decision to really stick strictly to the steps and even in the early morning when he would wake up to cry for some comfort, we would still use this technique. So tonight really was night number three.

While we have seen *some* improvement in terms of sleeping through the night, for example, we have consistently cut out one night feed (he was waking up TWICE; once at around midnight and another at around 4am to seek comfort), Benji still wakes up during that time and cries for at least 30 minutes before finally sleeping.

I would love to think that my brave little trooper has what it takes to calm himself and go to bed like a big boy but everytime those cries and whines start, I start doubting his ability – and my decision to do this. The longer he cries, the more it breaks me.  Like it did multiple times in the wee hours, and even more so early this morning. He slept till past midnight but woke up at 215am and cried intermittently until 415am, that’s two whole hours! Both Bry and I were losing our minds; we were in such a quandry: if we pick him up and tap him to sleep, which is what he wanted, he will sleep for sure, but will that undo the hard work we’ve put in to this training? We were both beside ourselves and kept snapping at the other; I wanted to end it, but Bry challenged me and asked me for an alternative plan. Then he wanted to end it and I questioned if it would ruin everything. Not fun to be arguing with your spouse at 415am, half asleep.

I have to admit that I was furious at everyone who assured us that this technique was a sure winner. But the person I was most upset with at around 4am when my child was still not sleeping, was Dr Ferber. How is it that this technique is so popular and if it is so great, WHY IS MY CHILD NOT SLEEPING PROPERLY AND, WORSE, OVER TIRED IN THE DAY?!! Benji was a really happy baby until 2 weeks ago. His giggles have significantly decreased, his vocalizations a more subdued…and his alertness a little less sharp. I’ve been trying to elicit some babbles from him (yes, I’m an over anxious Speech-Language Pathologist parent to an infant who still has yet to produce any babbles. No consonants. It’s a *little* worrying.) and with his attention span and mood so low these days, I can hardly get him to do anything without him rubbing his eyes or pulling his ears.

We gave up after 2 hours. Screw Dr Ferber for now, I thought. I need my happy baby back. Benji has been really quite overtired the last few days from all the extended crying. His anxiety to nap during the day was also heightened. We had originally tried the same technique for daytime naps but that got too stressful for us and mostly for him, so we cut that out and are now solely concentrating on getting him to sleep properly in the night.

BUT. Tonight’s record of sleeping after 30 minutes of struggle gave us a slight glimmer of hope and reinstated a little – just a little – my faith that this technique could work with Benji. Was last night’s episode the much feared “extinction burst” (Thanks, Dr Craig Canapari, for your very helpful post that I read and re-read amongst many other posts about this technique!) and that we survived it means we are over the hump???

Another night to test out this method. I’m holding my breath on this one.

  1. bellissimom said:

    Wow, that sounds pretty stressful and brutal! I hope things approve very soon!

  2. You are making progress– I hope you report some marked improvement in a few days, and I think you will. Stay strong at bedtime and that will be the key for you. Letting him fuss for a long time then providing skin to skin, etc, may be reinforcing the crying a bit.

  3. jpalmca said:

    Dr. Canapari, my daughter has been co sleeping with my ex-wife for 2.5 years and she is now 2 years and 8 months. Her mother recently tried to get my daughter to sleep in her bed and my daughter responds by pooping on the floor. Now, my daughter is moving in with me. I am very concerned about her learning to sleep on her own. I think it is very important and wish that her mother had began this a long time ago. But now it is in my hands. Can you please help me?

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