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How long can you let your baby cry?

Byline: Dr Miriam Stoppard's health focus

Nearly 30 years ago an American Nearly 30 years ago, an American paediatrician, Dr Richard Ferber, published a book on training a baby to go to sleep.

He's just updated it though its major point is the same: you let a baby cry longer and longer until it learns to go to sleep.

I was never keen on this. I thought it cruel and hate the idea of "training" babies to do anything.

Briefly it goes like this: while still awake you put your baby to bed, kiss them goodnight, then leave the room. can learn quieten themselves.

On day one, you can go back after three minutes if your baby is crying. Pat them but don't pick them up or rock them, then leave again. Next time, you wait five minutes before going in, then 10 minutes, and so on until they finally fall asleep.

On successive days, the gaps between visits get longer and longer - up to 30 minutes if your child is still crying on day seven.

I never let my babies cry. I wanted them to grow up believing if they asked for attention, someone went to them.

My way was hard on both my husband and myself, as we were on duty alternate nights.

My children and stepchildren aren't unkind parents, but they opted for a modern method of handling a baby's crying when put down to sleep. When I was introduced to this method I found it heartbreakingly difficult to comply with.

Their approach involves three principles: Every baby has the right to enjoy sleeping in their cot but they can't enjoy it if they cry unheeded for long periods.

child to With their parents' help, every baby can eventually learn to quieten themselves.

A parent's or carer's presence is initially necessary to soothe crying. The method my son wanted me to follow (which I did to the letter) was to put his baby down and if she was crying after five minutes go to her cot and wordlessly stroke her or pat her, then leave. After five minutes, repeat this ritual, and so on until she stopped crying.

On the first evening she cried for 40 agonising minutes, on the second for 30 minutes, on the third 15 minutes and on the fourth and thereafter not at all. Well now, had I learned a lesson.

Every child can learn to quieten themselves
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2013
Words:405
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