So here we are… another sleep book overview. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is written by Marc Weissbluth, a pediatrician who has a special interest in childrens’ sleep patterns.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is 457 dense pages of information about sleep in children, from birth through adolescence. It covers the physiology of sleep, sleep disorders and how parents can help their children establish healthy sleep habits at every age.
I have some quibbles with this book. The first is that I can’t stand how it’s organized (or not). Topics feel jumbled together and the sleep problems are listed out before the age-by-age information about sleep. The second is that it will freak out any new parent regarding the six-week fussiness peak…Weissbluth makes it sound like the parental apocalypse instead of something to be aware of and flexible about.
The book also contains such helpful and reassuring call-outs as “WARNING If your child does not learn to sleep well, he may become an incurable adult insomniac, chronically disabled from sleepiness and dependent on sleeping pills.” (Note: It’s in boldface in the book.) Seriously!?! If my kid doesn’t sleep through the night she’ll be a drug addict?! I don’t think scare-tactics are very helpful.
Some of Weissbluth’s major points include:
- A well-rested child (and family) is better for the family and for a child’s health
- Babies under three months of age need to return to sleep within two hours of waking up to prevent over-tiredness
- Babies need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep in order to develop healthy life-long sleep habits
- Crying it out (for healthy babies four months and over) will not harm the baby
Here’s the deal: As much as I don’t want to recommend this book, because it’s frustrating to read and really pushy about using the “extinction” (aka cry-it-out) method of sleep training, I know several people who read it thoroughly and then followed the precepts with their babies to great success. (You can read about Yongling’s experience here.) There’s a lot of information, the book is dense and can be difficult to get through, but apparently it works. Frankly, I also find myself going back to re-read sections… especially since now we might actually have to do some sleep training of our own…oh my.