Face to Face with Dr. Ferber
If you have had a baby within the last 30 years, chances are you’ve heard of Dr. Richard Ferber, or at least you’re familiar with the verb, to “Ferberize.” For anyone still in the dark, this term has become synonymous with the “cry it out” method for getting babies to sleep through the night. And while there are parents who denounce Ferberization as cruel and unnecessary, there are also a lot of parents who have read Ferber’s groundbreaking 1985 book, “Solving Your Child’s Sleep Problems” and found it tremendously helpful.
Last night, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ferber as part of a special fundraiser for Children’s Hospital at Magic Beans. He turned out to be a quiet, kind and unassuming man with an astonishing amount of expertise in his field. He gave a very interesting presentation about the mechanics of the sleep cycle and how they apply to children of all ages (and to their parents as well).
Call me a geek, but I felt like I was in the presence of greatness. I was awed by the authority and confidence with which he fielded every question. He’s a very smart man who has, over the course of his life’s work, basically shaped the study of pediatric sleep disorders. Pretty amazing, if you think about it. There was an interesting article about him in the Boston Globe last year, so if you’d like to read more, check that out.
This past May, Dr. Ferber released a revised edition of “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.” It has been updated with new scientific data, but more importantly, it shows a softer side of Dr. Ferber. Clearly he is uncomfortable that his ideas have taken on a life of their own and that his name conjures up images of screaming children. From what I heard last night, he loves kids, and he really understands what makes them tick, especially when it comes to bedtime. Hopefully with this new edition of the book, Ferberization will take on new meaning.