Does Ferberizing Really Work?

An Interview With Dr. Richard Ferber

Dr. FerberDr. Richard Ferber is one of the best-known sleep experts in the world. His book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems is a parenting classic. His Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston's Children's Hospital is a mecca for sleep-deprived children and parents. Ferber's groundbreaking techniques, which parents often call "sleep training," are based on his belief that most parents can teach their children healthy sleep habits. His teachings are often -- erroneously -- misinterpreted and labeled "harsh" or "cold." Here, in an exclusive interview with Parent Soup, Dr. Ferber sets the record straight on sleep and children.

Parent Soup (PS): Why did you decide to study children's sleep behavior?

Ferber: It started with an interest I had in infant development and the development of early rhythms, including the rhythm of sleep. That interest led to a more general interest in children's sleep habits. I think that society, in general, does not recognize the importance of sleep and has many misconceptions about it.

PS: We know you do a lot of work with children. Do you ever provide advice to the sleep-deprived parents?

Ferber: Mostly what we do is help get the children to sleep. Once that's solved, then the parents' problem will solve itself. If the parents have other sleep problems, then I will refer them to someone who takes care of adults.

PS: How long does it take for most parents to correct their child's sleeping problems?

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