OK. Seriously. I read all the big baby sleep books. I don’t mean to sound all teacher’s pet academic achiever twerpy person, it’s just that reading is one of my favorite ways to relax anyway, so it was never really a chore. And because I was EFFING DESPERATE and assumed if I just kept reading, an easy and magical solution would find its way to me. (It didn’t, but as a sequel I will share what we finally did to get our little nocturnal frog sleeping).
But before I read anything, I scoured the web for some kind of comparison like this, so I could target something that best fit our problems/philosophies and not waste time reading something that wasn’t up my alley. I did find summaries, but really wanted more of a quick side-by-side comparison, so my hope is that this will maybe be a helpful guide if you want to just pick one book to invest your time in.
One last thing to add is that I was remiss in not starting this learning process earlier. Before and when I was pregnant, I read and soaked in everything I could about healthy pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, baby nutrition, positive discipline… lots of crap. I don’t know why I took sleep for granted, thinking it would just kind of work itself out naturally without a lot of thought/input from me. WOMEN, PLEASE LEARN FROM THIS MISTAKE: if you are pregnant or may become pregnant,
you should not take Spiriva I really would encourage you to consider learning about baby sleep. What all of these books have in common is that they will explain why good sleep is critically important to your baby, and walk you through what your schedule should look like based on your baby’s age. Very good stuff to know before you’re in the throes of it.
OK, getting on with it. Emphasis mine in case you want the express version.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
- Is a moderate-length primer on baby sleep, with clear age-by-age guides from newborn through big kid.
- Is very pro-CIO. Dr. Weissbluth believes in cold turkey CIO (extinction method) so there is not a lot of clear, structured guidance as to a CIO plan. You just close the door and that’s it. If you are looking for more structure and more of a gradual approach, read Dr. Ferber’s book or The Sleep Easy Solution (continued below).
- Is a good choice if you want reassurance about CIO. Dr. Weissbluth knows his crap, has treated zillions of babies, and does a terrific job dispelling the myths about CIO and reassuring you it won’t damage your baby’s psyche. If you’re terrified of CIO but know you’ve gotta go there, this may be a good thing for you to look at.
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (AKA Dr. Ferber’s book)
- Is a lengthy look at baby sleep, although it’s in chapters so it’s pretty easy to hunt through and pick out the ones you want. Still, it’s much more thorough and clinical, so it requires more time and attention to work through the writing. If you want something you can read fast, try instead The Sleep Easy Solution (below), which is basically the same material in a faster read.
- Is also pro-CIO. But this book will walk you through a plan that involves periodically checking in and comforting baby. You’re probably familiar with this. As the nights go on, you gradually give the baby longer stretches before you comfort.
- IS NOT EVIL. It’s not. I really want to say that first. I seriously thought I would crack this book open and it would say LET YOUR BABY SOB TILL THE WEAKNESS NO LONGER CONSUMES HIM, THE END. It doesn’t. He has a heart, he doesn’t delights in crying babies, he’s the real deal. Yea, the mothering.com bloggers can talk lovies and white noise machines, but Dr. Ferber is the guy you go to when your kid has narcolepsy, cataplexy, or is actually biologically unable to achieve sleep. (Yea. Ponder that. Yikes.) Nobody knows baby sleep like this dude.
The Sleep Easy Solution
- Is not really new material. It’s basically Ferber. I actually hadn’t heard of this, but it was recommended by the lactation consultant who runs the breastfeeding group I used to go to.
- Is good to read if you’re already having problems. It’s written for older babies and toddlers who are crappy sleepers. If you are looking for something to read on a preventative/educational basis, read Healthy Sleep Habits.
- Is a brief primer on baby sleep and a quick read. The authors start with an introductory chapter explaining how baby sleep works, why it’s important, what healthy patterns look like– but they hilariously preface the whole thing by saying to skip that part and just go to the “solution” part if you’re too tired and fed up to care about the science of it. Ha. Even reading the sciencey part, it’s still a quick read.
- Is written by moms, not doctors. I think both groups bring important perspectives to the table, but this is a good pick if you want a conversational, relatable perspective. The women are the sleep consultants behind Sleepy Planet.
- Is pro-CIO, but with a heart. Ferber/Weissbluth will tell you from the medical perspective why you don’t have to fear the crying, but these women are mothers who feel your pain and know how horrible and sucky it seems. You will honestly read this and feel like you have these kind, benevolent souls holding your hand through all of this. Reading this really put me at ease.
- This is actually probably my #1 pick if you’re OK with CIO. Quick read and tells you exactly what to do, so it really builds your confidence in the process.
The No Cry Sleep Solution
- Is pretty much the only show in town if you don’t want to let your baby cry. If you are dead-set on avoiding CIO, definitely start here. Covers gentle solutions for both young babies and older babies/toddlers.
- Is a brief-to-medium-length look at baby sleep. More thorough than Sleep Easy Solution but less than Healthy Sleep Habits.
- Is written by Elizabeth Pantley, a mom who has sort of become the voice of Team Anti-CIO (hashtag). Interestingly, she did do her own unofficial experimentation on the techniques she teaches in this book, through a group of “Test Mommies” who she follows and quotes throughout the book. So, it is a little anecdotal-evidencey, but I enjoyed hearing from other moms in the trenches.
- Is not a strict “plan” kind of solution. She gives you a collection of separate techniques to try on your own time schedule.
- Like the previous, this is a “solution” for babies/toddlers who suck at sleeping, so same guidance to read Health Sleep Habits if you just want to learn about sleep in general.
A note about the internet. Yea. After becoming a self-proclaimed-lay-wannabe-expert in baby sleep, I will say that there is a lot of quackery on the internet. (Breaking news, I know). There’s so much crap out there that’s pure click fodder (10 ways to make your 6 week old sleep through the night! 10 things you are doing wrong if your 6 week old isn’t sleeping through the night!) and some of it is just really bad, really sloppy, and really not coming from an educated place. The only place (in this person’s opinion) that does a terrific job in really analyzing everything and giving some awesome guidance is troublesometots.com. (Thanks to my friend Meghann who tipped me off to this!).
What else? I think the only other mainstream book out there is Tracy Hogg’s The Baby Whisperer, which I did not read. Babywise? I heard too many scary things and didn’t consider it, but until we sleep trained I also had an eight month old who slept like a newborn so… yea. If you have insight on these (or others I’m overlooking) then please chime in!