I read all the major books on baby sleep — here is what I learned

Sleeping child
By: noeluapCC BY 2.0

CALLING ALL BABY SLEEP EXPERTS: The Chimerical Capuchin just posted this gem about reading "all the major books on baby sleep"… and we just can't wait until morning to share it:

I bought all the top books on baby sleep and development. I read through them all, as well as several blogs and sleep websites. I gathered lots of advice.

You shouldn’t sleep train at all, before a year, before 6 months, or before 4 months, but if you wait too late, your baby will never be able to sleep without you. College-aged children never need to be nursed, rocked, helped to sleep, so don’t worry about any bad habits. Nursing, rocking, singing, swaddling, etc. to sleep are all bad habits and should be stopped immediately. White noise will help them fall asleep. White noise, heartbeart sounds, etc., don’t work. Naps should only be taken in the bed, never in a swing, carseat, stroller, or when worn. Letting them sleep in the carseat or swing will damage their skulls. If your baby has trouble falling asleep in the bed, put them in a swing, carseat, stroller, or wear them.

Put the baby in a nursery, bed in your room, in your bed. Co-sleeping is the best way to get sleep, except that it can kill your baby, so never ever do it. If your baby doesn’t die, you will need to bedshare until college.

Use the same cues as night: cut lights, keep the house quiet and still. Differentiate naps from nightly sleep by leaving the lights on and making a regular amount of noise. Keep the room warm, but not too warm. Swaddle the baby tightly, but not too tightly. Put them on their back to sleep, but don’t let them be on their backs too long or they will be developmentally delayed. Give them a pacifier to reduce SIDS. Be careful about pacifiers because they can cause nursing problems and stop your baby from sleeping soundly. If your baby sleeps too soundly, they’ll die of SIDS.

Don’t let your baby sleep too long, except when they’ve been napping too much, then you should wake them. Never wake a sleeping baby. Any baby problem can be solved by putting them to bed earlier, even if they are waking up too early. If your baby wakes up too early, put them to bed later or cut out a nap. Don’t let them nap after 5 pm. Sleep begets sleep, so try to get your child to sleep as much as possible. Put the baby to bed awake but drowsy. Don’t wake the baby if it fell asleep while nursing.

You should start a routine and keep track of everything. Not just when they sleep and how long, but how long it has been between sleep, how many naps they’ve had per day, and what you were doing before they slept. Have a set time per day that you put them to bed. Don’t watch the clock. Put them on a schedule. Scheduling will make your life impossible because they will constantly be thrown off of it and you will become a prisoner in your home.

Using the Cry It Out method (CIO) will make them think they’ve been abandoned and will be eaten by a lion shortly. It also causes brain damage. Not getting enough sleep will cause behavior and mental problems, so be sure to put them to sleep by any means necessary, especially CIO, which is the most effective form. Extinction CIO is cruel beyond belief and the only thing that truly works because parents are a distraction. The Sleep Lady Shuffle and Ferber method are really CIO in disguise or Controlled Crying and so much better than Extinction. All three of these will prevent your child from ever bonding with you in a healthy way. Bedsharing and gentler forms of settling will cause your child to become too dependent on you.

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  1. Awesome. Though a little bittersweet for me. We read a book and treated it like a bible. I was so sleep deprived, had little help from my husband, but maintained that I was doing things that would be better "in the long run." Then I went back to work and had two nights of almost zero sleep. I had no choice but to dump everything I was "supposed" to do, simply for survival. My instincts took over, everyone slept better, and I finally started bonding with my baby. It's been uphill ever since.

    1 agrees
  2. Too funny! Yes, all the books contradict each other. I went with instinct and whatever worked. The fourth trimester is not the time to establish habits, it's the time to make sure everyone survives and stressing over 'spoiling' a baby or setting up lifetime sleep habits is absurd. Plus they hit that sleep regression and it all goes out the window anyhow. We didn't even worry about it until 6 months, when started to slowly work on a schedule and sleeping on her own (with me nearby) at night.

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  3. Love it!!! You really have to play it by intuition and commonsense when it comes to raising children. Every child is different and what works for someone might not work for someone else. I always felt a twinge of anxiety for the new moms who carried around their books and would seem astonished when it didn't seem like the advice applied to their child. These "experts" aren't experts at your own child-you are!

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  4. Perfect Perfect Perfect

    As a first time mom, I'm getting advice left, right and sideways…. and none of it agrees. Arrgghhh…

    1 agrees
  5. This makes a lovely follow-up to the recent Jezebel piece on how to have the best pregnancy.

    Totally hits home as I'm in the middle of second guessing myself on a nightly basis as I try to make heads or tails of my 7 week old's sleep patterns (or lack of).

    My ongoing mantra is "trust your gut". Mama instinct is best!

    3 agree
  6. LOL Oh my goodness this is great. I never once read any books with my son, I had the mentality that if he was still sleeping he obviously needed it. He dictated his own nap schedule and he fell into a pattern on his own. My friend's son was a few days younger and she had him on a STRICT schedule for everything: sleeping, eating, playing even. That worked for them. Everyone is different, you choose the patht hat works for you.

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  7. Love it! Especially love your use of my picture for this awesome snarky piece, because LORD KNOWS my photo shouldn't be attached to anything advice-worthy on sleep! I keep thinking, maybe tomorrow at 16 months he'll sleep through the night…or at least a few hours straight 🙂

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  8. That`s hilarious!! made me laugh. I read up on sleep a lot and actually recognize a lot of the suggestions.

    Hurray for going on instinct! I had my newbown in the bed with us, in a small basket with good airflow so no risk of squishing him… complete darkness and silence. worked for us. I had friends who put newborn in a separate room in a crib, with small lights and some background noise. Worked for them. The number one rule is there ain`t any!

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  9. YES! This is exactly the way I feel. We paid for a sleep plan, I've read SO MANY books, and what feels most right is just to keep doing what we've been doing (I go to bed at 6 with the baby!). I know it won't be forever and I know I'm lucky I don't have so much to do to make that impossible but now that I'm at work all day I only see my boy for about 1.5-2 hrs so our 12 hour cuddle and nurse session means the world to me!

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  10. Hee! This is really good. I too have just been going on instinct with both my kids; they both fell into the 'up for two, down for two' nap schedule (except when it's only down for one), and we try not to have Kat sleep any later than 6:30 or so. If she doesn't have that late evening nap around 5, we keep her up till 7 and she sleeps (sortof). I'm STILL waiting for her to figure out how to sleep through the night though. 12-5am is alright, but it's no 8 to 8 like her brother. 😛

  11. This is all absolutely true, because I did things exactly like this with my daughter and she was sleeping through the night by the time she started school.

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  12. What my mom told me is… "Just make sure that he's asleep and feed at 11. He will create his own schedule based on that, you did and I'm sure he will do it too. Then he will sleep whenever he wants and needs and you'll be able to do your own stuff whenever he sleeps."

    That's all the advice my mom gave me. She basically told me to make sure He goes to sleep at the same hour every night and work around it by mere instinct. She also said that it might take a while for us to get into schedule but it will happen eventually.

    I don't know if this will work, my baby is due in june, but I like her advice. I trust my instinct will kick when needed, but I like to be informed about other options just in case.

    1 agrees
  13. Yeah. I think most "sleep advice" is hogwash. Treat them as lists of things that have worked with some babies, and may or may not be worth a try with yours if you think it'll help. Anything you try from a book might work well, or it might not.

    1 agrees
  14. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this! As a first time mom to a 2 month old, who actually sleeps well most of the time, I've been going nuts over what I should or shouldn't be doing! Whether it is sleep, feeding, playing, scheduling, and so on. So THANKS for reminding me that only I know what's best for my mini me! This is getting printed and put on my fridge for my next mommy meltdown!

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