One of my very good mama friends gave me this advice on sleep:
“SLEEP is the greatest gift you can give your child. The ability to learn to fall asleep and remain asleep through the night unassisted by ‘tools’ (i.e. bottles, rocking, etc.) is paramount to their happiness and yours! There are different methods to achieve this goal; so find what works for you and don’t be afraid of some ‘tough love’ or crying. As parents it’s about making hard choices and giving our children the tools to survive and thrive in this world – so by giving them sleep for their brains to grow and rest for their bodies, you are doing just that.”
The philosophy of teaching babies to sleep was one of the most mind-blowing revelations I experienced simply because it never dawned on me. Ever.
Wouldn’t my kids just become night owls like the rest of my family? Not that I wished that upon my kids, but needing to stay up to watch the eleven o’clock news is genetic, right? No? It’s not? Seriously?
As one dives into the abyss of sleep topics and training, they’ll come across hundreds of techniques. Here is what I like to call “The Holy Trinity” of sleep books:
“Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
By far this was the best book ever recommended to us by fellow parents. HSHHC is about the science of sleep, and how important it is for your baby’s brain development. It starts with general information then breaks out into age range. Amongst a treasure trove of gems, one philosophy is “perfect timing, no crying.” Surprisingly, it works. It also shifts focus to “awake time” importance, a valuable guide to watching for sleepy cues (i.e. rubbing eyes), all while working within a baby’s natural sleep cycles.
“Happiest Baby On The Block” by Harvey Karp, M.D.
Full disclosure: In a fleet of panic, my husband and I rented this DVD on Netflix because we desperately needed HELP the first handful of weeks! Dr. Karp educates his audience on “The 5 S’s,” which stand for Swaddling, Side/Stomach position, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking. My husband watched and implemented the tutorial, and the baby was calmed and nearly passed out in my husband’s arms in a matter of 90 seconds. Impressive.
“Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg
Again, we rented the DVD after our success with HBOTB. And it did not disappoint. Hogg breaks down different archetypal personalities of babies, and gives helpful hints how to handle each kind. That along with her E.A.S.Y. philosophy (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) will help round out a solid base of sleep training knowledge.
All of the books (and, ahem, DVDs) make scientific sense. Combined, they help even the blurriest-eyed new parents visualize a tangible and effective schedule and/or routine on which to embark. And remember: steady on and stay the course. Consistency and repetition is key.
And if you simply prefer expletives and comfort that you’re not alone, “Go The F$%& To Sleep” by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes specifically narrated by Samuel Jackson is a crowd favorite.