Night-Night Time

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Night-Night Time

Gentle Sleep Techniques for Babies

Parenting books probably contain more conflicting advice on helping your child sleep than on any other topic. Everyone seems to feel strongly that their way is the only right way to guarantee a good night's sleep for baby and parents. While the books in this list are all focused on "gentle" sleep solutions (as compared to "cry it out" methods), even they do not all agree with each other about how to get your child to sleep. Hopefully, reading several different books, talking to other parents, and trying some things out will give you some tools to encourage your little one to sleep well so you can, too!

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
While this book does not focus exclusively on sleep, its techniques calm your infant's general fussiness and help your baby to go to sleep and stay asleep. Karp argues that humans actually have a "fourth trimester" in which they need an environment that is more like the womb to feel safe and relaxed. To help with this, he walks the reader through the 5 S's: swaddle, side or stomach, shush, swing, and suck. While Karp's writing style can sometimes be reminiscent of used-car salesmen, the book is easy to read and his 5 S's are really helpful when you want to get your newborn to sleep.

The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program by Polly Moore
Moore focuses in this book on the science of sleep and how to notice your baby's signs of sleepiness. She argues that human beings have a natural 90 minute alertness cycle, and naps and bedtime should be timed for the period that your baby is at his or her least alert. This creates a schedule for the day which is driven by the baby's biology and need for frequent sleep. Both the strictness of the schedule (your baby must sleep when they're tired!) and the flexibility (be attentive to your baby's sleep signs!) makes this a book that should work for almost everyone. While Moore's dire predictions of all the horrible things that may happen to your child if he or she doesn't get enough sleep can be a bit off-putting, the framework for sleeping and naps is really helpful for new parents who are struggling to figure out their little one.

Good Night, Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy by Kim West
For babies six months and older who are having sleep problems, West promotes the "Sleep Lady Shuffle." This is a nice middle ground between letting your child cry alone in the crib and spending hours rocking him or her to sleep. She encourages parents to comfort their crying child without picking her or him up for a few nights and then slowly move farther and farther away over a series of nights. She writes that this will keep the child from feeling abandoned but will also slowly encourage falling asleep independently. There is also a bit of information in this book about sleep for younger children too, though most of it is for six months and older.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
This book is for those who are very adverse to the idea of letting their child cry at all. While this may seem impossible, Pantley has a variety of techniques that she believes will get parents there. Another book full of sleep science and arguing for the importance of your child getting enough rest, this book is shorter than West's and so may be more readable for tired parents. Pantley's argument is that you can either let your child cry or put in more time with other sleep coaching techniques. She, of course, argues that it is worth it to use her techniques which require more of a time investment.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer or The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (By Teaching You How to Ask the Right Questions): Sleeping, Feeding and Behaviour - Beyond the Basics through Infancy and Toddlerdom by Tracy Hogg
Both of these books by Tracy Hogg cover a variety of parenting issues but devote a good deal of space to sleeping. Hogg's favorite sleep technique is "pick up, put down." Using this the parent picks up the crying child until the crying stops and then replaces the baby in the crib. The hope, again, is to comfort the child and promote falling asleep independently.

The Baby Sleep Book by William Sears
Dr. Sears has written a variety of books on babies and young children. Sears, unlike most of the other authors on this list, reviews a variety of options for helping your baby sleep. While it's obvious that he has his favorites, he does help parents walk through figuring out which ones might be best for them. For parents interested in co-sleeping, this book is the most supportive of that option.