Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Ferberizing: Should Babies Cry Themselves to Sleep?

Do you recommend "Ferberizing" an infant? How much sleep do babies need?

Answer (Published 9/29/2011)

"Ferberizing" an infant refers to the method of dealing with children's sleep problems developed by Dr. Richard Ferber, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston. He described the method in his book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, first published in 1985. Dr. Ferber's method has been described as "let them cry it out," but it is actually more complicated than that. I discussed your question with Sandy Newmark, M.D. a pediatrician at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in San Francisco.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that abundant energy is vital when it comes to keeping up with the kids. Certain supplements can help keep you energized, naturally - learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

Dr. Newmark explained that with the Ferber method a child who is having sleep difficulties is allowed to cry for gradually increasing amounts of time. For example, on the first day that parents follow the method, they would allow the baby to cry for only one minute before going in, then for 3 minutes the next day, then 5 minutes and so on. Dr. Newmark said that the Ferber method is "pretty effective," but that parents have to make up their minds about how to best deal with an individual child's sleep issues. Dr. Newmark said that he does not recommend the method for infants under nine to 12 months of age, but considers it satisfactory for toddlers over one year old.

If an infant is not sleeping well, Dr. Newmark recommends consulting with a pediatrician to see if any medical issues need to be evaluated, and to discuss the various approaches to improving sleep.

While researching your question, I looked back at a National Sleep Foundation survey that found that kids - including infants - aren't getting enough sleep. The survey showed that infants between three and 11 months old need 14 to 15 hours of sleep daily but get only 12.7 hours. Toddlers (age 12 to 35 months) need 12 to 14 hours of sleep but get only 11.7 hours. Preschoolers and kindergarten kids need 11 to 13 hours of sleep but get only 10.4 and youngsters in the first through fifth grades who need 10 to 11 hours actually slept about 9.5 hours daily.

Children who don't get enough sleep can be cranky and irritable the next day and don't function as well at school as kids who do get enough. Experts say that without adequate sleep, kids' relationships with family and friends can suffer. Also, when sleep-deprived, babies and toddlers may not be as alert and open to the world as they should be. You can find tips on how to ensure that your kids get adequate sleep on the National Sleep Foundation website.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here