The wrong bed

Indulgent urban parents are turning to consultants to learn how to kick the kids out of bed. Or they’re just giving in and letting the kids sleep in the parents’ bed while Mom may slink off to sleep in her daughter’s pink-on-pink room or catch a few winks on a cot. From the New York Times:

More than a decade after the infant sleep expert Dr. Richard Ferber horrified parents by warning against co-sleeping and advocating a cry-it-out approach, and four years after the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development published a survey in which 12 percent of respondents reported sleeping with their babies anyway, never mind Ferber, it would seem that those babies have grown into children, and those children are not at all tempted by the princess and airplane beds their parents have so hopefully prepared for them. Child-sleep consultants say their practices are swelling, and that they are treating the parents of “ambulatory” children just as much as the parents of infants.

One mother laments:

With Gus, we tried the reward system, the stickers and the charts and the trip to the toy store. At Soho Parenting, they gave us a whole routine, with me in the chair moving farther away from the bed. At one point, putting him to bed was consuming our entire night. Now we have my son out of our bed, and my daughter, who has always been a brilliant sleeper, has taken his place.”

A sleep consultant, who happens to be the daughter of the woman who wrote the classic Pat the Bunny, says parents need to learn how to set boundaries.

By the way, for those of you who like to be up with the latest trends, “Sleep is the new sex.” And sleeping with your children is a great way to avoid the old sex.

Update: On Early Stories, Richard Colvin offers a rant and useful bedtime advice.

If parents can’t figure out how to teach their children to sleep through the night in their own beds, then what can they teach them? The parents in this article seemed pathetically weak and helpless and resigned to the idea that, in fact, the children are the kings and queens of the household.

The advice is to establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. Common sense to some of us but apparently a revelation in the richer regions of Timesville.

About Joanne


  1. Indigo Warrior says:

    More than a decade after the infant sleep expert Dr. Richard Ferber horrified parents by warning against co-sleeping

    Is this guy a communist or something?

    Does he thinks that co-sleeping will turn children into homosexuals, or worse, libertarians?

    It’s a proven fact that too much loving parental contact will make kids into unmanly sissies and faggots. So let’s get rid of it all. Let the kids, starting from infancy, “socialize” each other with a minimum of adult interference. It worked in Sparta, didn’t it? And let’s bring back refrigerator mothers, clockwork bottle-feeding, pre-Spockian toilet training, rectal thermometers, enemas, exorcisms, mustard plasters, anti-self-abuse-devices, chastity belts, and the like.

  2. There must be some other issue going on. I slept with all my babies and didn’t have to resort to an “expert” when it came to transitioning them to their own rooms. Good grief.

    Is there anything in life that people just figure out for themselves or is there is a consultant for every last bump in life?

  3. Indigo, FYI, not sure if you have kids, but if you don’t, that would explain not knowing about Ferber. “Ferberizing” your child was, and frequently still is, the “talk of the playground.” Both pro and con, ad nauseum. No, he’s not any of the things you say. So, uh, calm down. Really–he was all about the importance of a child learning to go sleep on his/her own. (See also Dr. Brazelton; Dr. Sears–the king of the family bed) And, we did the family bed with my son during infancy, and tried Ferber. Anyway…I’m with Myrtle. Now, if we could only figure out the next “problem” these parents won’t be able to deal with and then hire ourselves out as experts.

  4. An article hardly worth the read let alone a blog post. My kids slept in our bed when they were babies. They moved to their own beds as toddlers. There are parents out there who have the skills and backbone to parent and parents out there so unskilled they can’t make a step on their own. Frankly, I was once one of the latter. Thankfully, I didn’t have any money for consultants and so had to learn.

  5. Some people have not figured out that being your child’s parent is not the same as being his friend. There will be times that you will do things he will not like; there might even be tears. All will survive.

  6. As I recall, Phyllis Diller used to recommend Vasoline on the doorknob.

  7. A nurse whispered something to me as I left the hospital with my newborn. “Spoil him. Spoiling is good.”

    So, I always came to him when he cried. I always let him sleep with me.

    And for 12 years I’ve tried to give him anything and everything he’s said he wanted.

    How has he turned out?

    Very well. He’s a wonderful, well-mannered boy.

    It could be I’m just lucky. I don’t know.

  8. Indigo Warrior says:

    Thanks for all the comments.

    My advice to any parents is to go with your own conscience, never mind what consultants, gurus, tribal elders, priests, and doctors may say. And while being a parent is not the same as being a friend, it’s not the same as being an enemy. Life is hard enough. People have a hard enough time accepting the true differences and diversities of others on an individual level. I am more than a little angry and frightened and those parents who make their children’s lives even tougher for no rational purpose at all.

    “To make a man of him.”
    “To save his/her soul.”
    “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
    “Children should be seen and not be heard.”
    “Thou shalt not be aware.” – also a book by Alice Miller

    I have seen consultants, gurus, etc. through the ages come up with all sorts of stupid, wrong, impractical, cruel, and sometimes just plain evil ideas on how to raise children. Hence my earlier tirade.

    As for “spoilt” children, this usually happens when parents substitute material gifts for love. Presents vs. presence. Or they use their kids as pawns in their own power-and-status games (such as encouraging them to be bullies). There can be no such thing as too much love.

  9. Carolyn says:

    “Dr.” Ferber is a man who recommends that parents let their babies continue to cry in their beds even after they have cried so long and hard they vomit. His advice: if it bothers you, shove a towel under the door so you can’t hear them.


    I think people who worry about where I’m sleeping and with whom should mind their own bloody business. Whatever gets you through the night.