June 8th, 2009

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I have the tendency to get myself all in a tizzy way before any possible threat of something could even occur. This is a major drag and a rather inefficient way of living.

This happened when I was pregnant with my first. I was obsessed with getting my baby to sleep well when the time came. Whenever that would be. Presumably around a due date far, far away.

So, to prepare, I acquired many, many baby sleep books. More than I care to publicly admit. Sleep books of all different philosophies from big ol’ softie to iron-fister. I read them all. More than once.

The book that blew the rest out of the water for me was Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. First, the scientific rationale he provides for what he advises made perfect sense to me. He brings in supporting evidence from medical research, as well as his many years of experience running a pediatric sleep clinic.  I like how he breaks up his practical step-by-step guides by developmental age (a section for birth to 4 months, from 5 months to a year, etc.) so that I can easily flip to the section that I’m interested in.  I found the many parental anecdotes to be helpful and encouraging.  I also appreciated that he gives several options for parents to follow based on their comfort level with allowing a child to cry. (Although, he is upfront with his belief that children are not harmed by this.)

His mantra became my mantra during those early months:  Be attuned to how long a child is awake and put him to sleep before he becomes overtired. 

What I don’t like about the book is the way it is organized. It’s kind of repetitive in many places and I feel like there could be a better way of ordering everything. You can’t really read it through from start to end and still know what year it is. I was also somewhat put off by the foreword by Cindy Crawford and her endorsement on the cover. (Is this the best authority on parenting you guys could find? A supermodel?)

Anyway, I still go to this book routinely and while I can’t say it is the only reason why my kids slept through the night at an early age, I certainly think following the principles outlined in this book helped.

More from this Author

This Weeks Tip

Even if you don’t have a need for this, try it — it’s way cool! To remove permanent marker from any smooth surface (computer monitor, dry erase board, refrigerator), simply draw over the marks with a dry erase marker. Then wipe away both marks with a cloth or eraser. Really, it works!