Top 5 Tips for Learning About Baby Sleep
Sleep, and how to get more of it for you and your baby, is one of the top parenting topics. Here are our five tips for taking in the wide variety of information on the subject.
1. Understand How Sleep Works
Before you can fix or make improvements to something, you have to understand how it works. Many parents trying to get their babies to sleep through the night are surprised to learn that neither babies nor adults “sleep through the night.” We all wake at various times throughout the night, verify that things are as we left them, then go back to sleep with minimal awareness of this process. The problem many babies face is that they go to sleep one way (in their parent’s arms, being rocked, nursing, in the car) and wake up for their routine safety check only to find that they have been mysteriously transported to somewhere completely different (such as their crib). Understanding this leads to a whole different goal, which requires a different action plan.
2. Be Aware of How Sleep Changes With Age
A newborn should wake every 2-3 hours at night to eat. When she’s asleep, she can tune out her surroundings and sleep through almost anything. As babies grow, they are able to sleep at night for longer stretches, but they are also more aware of their surroundings and are less able to sleep through fascinating things going on around them. Nap time also changes with time, with the length and number of daily naps evolving with your baby’s development. Being aware of expected changes can help keep you from thinking you’ve done something “wrong” when the reality is that a change or disruption in your baby’s sleep pattern is just a natural part of their developmental progression.
3. Consider Reading Sleep Books With Methods You Disagree With
Although you may disagree with the sleep training methods described in a baby sleep book, you may find information about the why and how of sleep that will help you apply methods from other books. Reading a variety of sleep books will give you a more well-rounded understanding of your baby’s sleep and your options for helping him get the sleep he needs. You may also find that one author devotes a paragraph or two to a certain topic while another gives the topic an entire chapter.
Borrow a variety of sleep books from your local library and read the chapters that are relevant to you while skimming or skipping those that are not. Choose one or two books that you feel best fit you and your baby and buy them used to keep on hand for reference.
4. Don’t Be Affraid to Mix and Match
You may find Dr. Richard Ferber’s in-depth scientific explanations of the workings of sleep helpful in understanding your baby’s biological workings while applying Elizabeth Pantley’s “No-Cry” sleep training methods on a schedule that takes into account your baby’s sleep windows as explained in depth by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. Despite the fact that Weissbluth recommends getting your baby to sleep using extinction (“crying-it-out” with no intervention), Ferber recommends crying with interventions at increasing time intervals and Pantley recommends no crying at all, all three authors have important information to share.
5. If All Else Fails…
Remember that this, too, shall pass and before you know it your sleep-deprived baby days will become sleep deprived teenage days.
Popular Sleep Books to Consider:
- The Happiest Baby on the Block (Harvey Karp, M.D.)
- The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years (Harvey Karp, M.D.)
- Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition (Richard Ferber, M.D.)
- The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night: Foreword by William Sears, M.D. (Elizabeth Pantley)
- The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library)
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (Marc Weissbluth, M.D.)
- The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy (Kim West, LCSW-C)