I was sort of astonished to read in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal that Richard Ferber is coming out with a new edition of his book on infant sleep in which he says that “letting children cry ‘was not meant to be the way to treat all sleep problems'”. I found a web-article from 2004 were he also says that parents don’t have enough confidence in their own judgement.
I’m just wondering whether he’s read his own book lately. Maybe now that he’s revised it, I guess. His book isn’t exactly the kind of book that invites a pluralistic, customized, own-judgement-building response to sleep issues. I’d say his book is one of the two pieces of professional advice that I found most undercut my own capacity to think clearly about parenting. The over-the-top authoritarian breast feeding coach that came into our baby class near the end was the other: when we wanted to supplement breast feeding with one 3 a.m. bottle feeding with formula or expressed milk so that my wife could get a rest, we were self-conscious and worried because the coach had been so fanatic about “nipple confusion”. Even though we’d sort of rejected her at the time (among the other things she said that bugged me was that all the parents-to-be in the class should generally distrust their ob/gyns, and this was in a class sponsored by the maternity ward of our hospital…), it was still there in the back of our very exhausted minds.
Anyway, good to see Ferber is revising, but seriously, the problem with almost all of these guys is that they have a single one-size-fits-all solution that they hammer at with varying degrees of dogmatic certainty. I was willing to try Ferberizing; I wish I had been quicker to recognize that it was in our case at least a lousy idea.