Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is filled with tons of research but it doesn’t tell you how to implement anything. It tells you the how come behind the science of sleep. The biggest take away I got from this book was the idea that sleep begets sleep. One major point that Dr. Weissbluth makes is that “the major fear that inhibits parents from establishing an earlier bedtime is that this will cause their child to get up earlier to start the day. In fact, the opposite will occur. An earlier bedtime will allow your child to sleep later, just as a too-late bedtime will eventually cause a too-early wake-up time.”
Logically it doesn’t make sense, but biologically it does. That’s why I’ve always been a stickler when it came to Noelle’s early bedtime. I like to be home by 6pm so that I can feed and put Noelle down. I still do it to this day. Tonight she fell asleep in her crib before 7pm and this is a regular, almost daily occurrence. I protect her bedtimes bigtime.
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is also a wealth of useful, practical advice. Her tone is so gentle and warm, I felt like I was listening to a wise grandma speak when I read her book. Hogg recommends that you follow an E.A.S.Y. schedule for daytime (does not apply at night!). E.A.S.Y. stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, You. The basic idea is that you never feed your child to sleep. You always want them to eat, then play, then sleep because you don’t want them to be dependent on eating to fall asleep… because guess who gets to be the human pacifier? Yup – you!
She also has a great chart that lists/describes all different types of baby cries (are they hungry? tired? poopy diaper? in distress?). It was helpful for me as a new mom who had a hard time distinguishing her cries initially. Hogg also touches upon the topic of “accidental parenting”, where you use props to soothe your baby to sleep. They eventually become bad habits that are difficult to break. Other ideas mentioned in her book are “dreamfeeds” and “cluster feeding” to help your baby sleep longer at night.
I also found On Becoming Babywise a useful book. However, I took it with a huge grain of salt. It was helpful in some areas (like their wake/eat/play schedule), but incredibly extreme in others. For example, it said that it’s best to start sleep training your baby from Day 1! I personally don’t recommend it (at least the first few months) for breastfeeding moms because it doesn’t allow you to feed frequently enough to maintain a healthy supply. I know parents who swear by it though and it totally worked for them. There’s even an entire detailed blog dedicated to the Babywise Method – Chronicles of a Babywise Mom.
It wasn’t any one book or school of thought that helped me through those early weeks. I read and researched and tweaked things to make it work for our family. Every baby is different and I don’t believe any one book will solve all your problems.
Other helpful resources:
- The Baby Sleep Site – It’s just chock full of good insight on sleep training.
- Babycenter Forums – It was helpful for me to hear firsthand, personal experience from other moms.
- Sleep/WT Chart – Take the time to understand this chart and it will be your holy grail. Every few months I refer back to this and adjust/readjust Noelle’s schedule as needed.
Stay tuned for the final part of this series…
Sleep Training: Part III. How we translated all this head knowledge into reality.