Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Baby Sleep Book by Dr. William Sears

A friend complimented me a couple weeks ago about the amount of research I was putting into parenthood (and pregnancy, labor, and delivery).  I reminded her then and I will state for the record now, I tend to decide what I want to do, then look up books, articles, and websites who will provide me support for the decision I made.  I am not so good at reading both sides of a debate and then deciding between them.  So please, don't feel like my support of certain authors is an unbiased, researched view point.  And other mothers (or future mothers) out there, please don't let my seemingly researched opinions make you feel bad for any decisions you've made or want to make.  I pick and choose what I like and cite it.  Not the other way around.

That disclaimer aside, I wanted to tell you all how much I really enjoyed reading Dr. Sears' The Baby Sleep Book.  I picked it up for a couple reasons.  First, it was on the shelf at my local branch library in the parenting section... and it's a small branch, so pickings were (relatively) slim.  Second, I'd heard of this Dr. Sears guy with regard to vaccines and I wanted to read something (anything) he had to say.  And third, I thought, "maybe I should start reading in advance rather than reading about stages of Baby O's life that have just past.  So, knowing that we were still well in the stage of "sleep when the baby sleeps" and "there is no such thing as schedule," I thought I could get a head start on understanding sleep now so that I could be prepared when we move into the next stage (whatever that may be).

For several days, I could not put this book down!  I really liked it.  Dr. Sears (and his family of docs and nurses) is one of the biggest proponents of Attachment Parenting.  So from the very beginning of this book, I knew that it would be providing me some detailed information that was in line with things I already wanted to do and theories I believe.  The chapter on co-sleeping (chapter 5) was reassuring to me and provided me with a little bit of literature reference for what I already knew to be true-- the news splash on how evil co-sleeping is because it's dangerous was just that-- a news splash.  He goes through the literature, explaining how the big study that made co-sleeping known as dangerous was not randomized (of course) and didn't even have a control.  They found a few hundred kids died when sleeping in adult beds.  But did you know that there's no reference in that article to the few thousand kids who died in cribs within the same amount of time?  Very interesting.

I also really liked the importance this book placed on fathers.  Just because I'm nursing (and co-sleeping) doesn't mean that my husband isn't a very important part of Baby O's life.  And long before we read this book, Ben has been great at taking turns with me attempting to calm her when she cries and rocking her to sleep when it's bedtime.  Sure, because I'm nursing, I get more of the middle-of-the-night duty than he does... but he's by no means absent.  Just as reassurance, though, chapter 8 of this book is all about night time fathering.  And it's full of good advice!

Finally, I'd say that I liked this book because it clarified the difference for me between "Cry it out alone" (which I don't want to do) and "cry it out in the arms of a parent figure," which may be important some day in the near future!  He lists out the basis for not following a stereotypical sleep training/cry it out method, and I'm fully in agreement with not crying it out.  However, he also calms my nerves by saying that yes, some times my child will cry.  And sometimes it will be for no reason.  Or because the answer I give her is "no" (e.g., if we were night weaning and she wanted to nurse for comfort... just as one example).  And in those scenarios, when they happen, it's perfectly okay for me to let O cry while we're cuddling and loving her in other ways.

I will confess, though, that just because I love his theories and ideas now doesn't mean I'll love them after I [try to] put them into practice in the future.  Maybe I'll learn that his ways are too simple, not realistic.  What do you guys think?  What tips do you have for night time parenting and sleep management?  Are there other theories you like more than Dr. Sears'?


  1. I liked reading this Amanda! Since I am currently learning how to council new mothers and fathers, it's interesting to hear the other side of the coin. Obviously what I am taught is clouded by the "you definitely don't want to get sued" mentality, but I would encourage you to look at some of the recent studies looking at how infant deaths have been coded in the last decade or so (SIDS vs. accidental suffocation)... they're pretty interesting and may add nicely to your growing pile of research :)

    I love reading about your commitment to parenting baby Olivia! Very inspiring :)

    1. Hey Magen! I think Dr. Sears did a nice job in this book of comparing co-sleeping (and the death rates associated) to traveling in a car seat. He talks about separating out car-accident related deaths associated with poor/incorrect usage of the car seat (rates are higher) vs. those in which the car seat was attached to the car and the baby correctly (rates are lower). He says something along the lines of 'We don't tell parents not to travel with their babies in cars, we teach them how to do it safely. In the same way, we should be teaching parents how to co-sleep safely rather than telling them not to do it.'

      Regardless, thanks for reading and for your feedback! I'll look into those articles. I'm glad to hear that SIDS is being coded differently than accidental suffocation these days-- that is a big issue of mine with some of the 'original'/older research.