Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sleep saviours

Needing sleep? Looking for advice? Read on, as I review some of the best baby sleep books on the market
Early in April I wrote about my sleep-deprived state due to a toddler who seemed permanently latched on to my chest and refused to sleep.
Well readers, I’m very happy to report that our house is a completely different place. 
I am no longer being called every hour to attend a crying toddler through the night.
I am no longer breastfeeding whenever she commands it.
I am no longer yelling at my toddler to “Go the @$!& to sleep!” (incidently if you google this one liner with Noni Hazelhurst, you’ll find a very entertaining book reading!)
I am no longer feeling like a zombie in the morning.
And everyone is happy.
It did not happen overnight, and let me tell you that our little one, though sleeping much better, is still a work in progress.
So how did I do it?
Well, I’m a huge advocate of gentle methods to get baby to sleep so you won’t find me writing about controlled crying (partly because I tried it on my first born and was horrified with the results).
A crying child is a child in need, and leaving them to cry to sleep is not responding to that need or solving any sleep problems.
If it’s worked for you, stop reading now, but there will be many parents reading this who are tired. Very, very tired. And they look through bleary eyes at the various baby sleep books wondering which one will work for them. 
If they’re anything like me, they’ll buy the lot. So to save you the trouble, I’m reviewing the top books that will help you get your baby (and you) back to sweet dreams using gentle methods.

1. The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.
Without a doubt, this book is my favourite and well worth every cent as the methods have worked on both my children. Pantley’s book is a 10-step plan with realistic expectations for babies of different ages, different beds (cot or co-sleeping), multiple scenarios (does your baby need a breastfeed, bottle, rocking, patting to fall asleep) and more. She is consistently encouraging and never patronising. The 10-day log is highly valuable and helped me with my first born who woke every hour in the night for five months straight. Pantley’s 10-day plan had her sleeping through the night at last. With my second child, I adopted Pantley’s Pull-off method of getting my daughter to stop nursing to sleep. It took at least two weeks as I aimed to take my time and do it without causing her any distress. Now she no longer wakes for a feed and is sleeping at least eight hours straight before climbing into bed with me (still working on that one!). Pantley might not have a PhD in pediatrics, but what she does have is experience in raising four children (four very different sleepers) , and that’s good enough for me.
2. The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley.
I think the above says it all – Pantley’s books speak to me and this one is a fairly new addition to my book shelf. It looks at the many problems parents face in getting their children aged one to six to sleep without the tears and tantrums. Issues she looks at include night waking and early rising, getting out of the family bed and into a bed of their own, nap-time problems, nightmares and fears, ending the all-night breastfeeding routine, and lots of other bedtime battles. Pantley’s strategies offer alternatives for all sorts of families and all sorts of parenting styles, but her methods always balance the needs of both the parents and the children. Probably the main thing parents need to know before adopting any of Pantley’s methods is that these do take longer to achieve results and require persistance and patience.
3. Sleeping Like A Baby by Pinky McKay.
Just like Elizabeth Pantley, McKay offers a natural, intuitive approach to solving sleep problems and gives practical tips to understand your baby’s tired cures, create a safe sleeping environment, how to settle restless babies and toddlers, guilt-free parenting and much more. I adore her other book Parenting by Heart, and this one is a lovely addition to help babies (and parents) to sleep better. McKay is a mother of five and a Melbourne-based writer specialising in health, education and family issues, and many Far North parents will remember her fabulous seminars at the baby expo held a few years ago at the Convention Centre. 
4. Sleep Solutions for your Baby, Toddler and Preschooler by Ann Douglas.
A fairly new one to my library, Douglas believes that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all sleep solution so she covers just about every one ever written about. She discusses what the world’s leading sleep researchers have identified as the best strategies for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, the science behind the methods as well as pros and cons to each one, and lots of other hot sleep topics from co-sleeping, moving from cot to bed, nightmares, no more naps and other bedtime dramas. Her book features sleep tools such as charts, check lists, sleep logs and websites to help parents find the right solution for their child. Douglas is very non-judgmental and gives a nice overview of all baby sleep methods, though this did make it a little more difficult for me to decide which ones to adopt. Also be aware that this is an American/Canadian text so all resources and recommendations relate to those countries.
5. Baby Love by Robin Barker.
I have to admit that this one became my bible with my first child. I had so many questions at every little stage in the first year and this book answered them all. Barker’s writing is full of compassion, humour and wisdom and with more than 25 years of hands-on experience with mothers and babies, you know she’s seen everything. She doesn’t advocate any one particular sleep strategy, but does offer practical and informative advice on sleeping and crying as well as excellent information about breastfeeding and bottle feeding, nutrition, introducing solids, immunisation, reflux, food allergy and intolerance, and much, much more. In my opinion, it is the best guide for first time mums in their first year of parenting.
6. Sleeping with your Baby by Dr James McKenna.
At last there is an expert in infant sleep, breastfeeding and SIDS who doesn’t scare you to bits when you are considering co-sleeping with your baby. Dr McKenna wants parents to know that babies are safer and healthier when put to bed in a safe, family sleeping environment. He takes readers through the important steps to creating a safe family bed, and provides the latest information on the scientific benefits of co-sleeping. Other topics covered include adoption, how long to share a bed, sexual relations in the family bed, how to co-sleep while travelling, SIDS and many more.
So these are my top six, but there are of course dozens of others books on getting babies to sleep.
One thing I would advise is to look at the qualifications of the author. There are many who have not had children themselves, yet through clever marketing are doing very well at selling their books to you.
Knowledge of infant health, lactation and psychology are very important to understanding what babies need, but I do believe if you’ve “been there, done that” yourself, you are much more likely to understand what parents are really going through and write a book with compassion not scorn at all the things we do wrong.
Trust me when I say that the books you read can seriously alter your parenting journey.
Tell me your favourite baby sleep book that worked for your family.


Ae-baby said...

I Beleive these three things which are most importatn for sound sleep for babies
Cots & Cribs
Few babies tend to move or roll all over the cot as they sleep, it is really very dangerous to place them on cots without proper support.
Diapers and Diaper Accessories
Diapers is a must and you need to get diaper basket or bag, diaper wipes, wet wipes, diaper warmers and many other diaper accessories
Getting comfortable sleepwear for babies is a must. Uneasy dresses and tight dresses will disturb the baby a lot as it sleeps. Get soft cotton dresses, night suits for babies. Never let your baby sleep with just diaper as it makes them prone to insect bites.

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