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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
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595 of 621 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2001
This was an excellent book - I cannot tell you how much this book helped our sleepless, colicky infant. But, several friends with non-colicky babies actually recommended this for any infant. This book is a wonderful middle ground for those parents who do not want a severe schedule (BABYWISE) or the opposite end of the spectrum, attachment parenting (Dr. Sears). It was the only book that I found that spoke knowledgeably about colic, and gave the only helpful advice available on the subject (believe me, we tried it all). It is not a cry-it-out book, although some may look at it in that light. What it teaches you is this: 1. watch your child. 2. put him/her down to sleep when you first see the signs of tiredness 3. most children under 6 months do not stay awake for longer than 2-3 hours at a time without needing a nap. 4. DO NOT just put your child down to nap when you feel like it - that's just letting him/her cry, not TEACHING them to sleep. 5. Most children need to go to sleep at night earlier than you'd think. 6. Going to bed earlier promotes later sleeping (weird, but true. As the author says, it's not logical. It's biological - sleep promotes sleep) There's a lot more too. I really like that the author's data is based on studies that he has done involving the patterns of children who naturally sleep and nap well. No, it didn't give us a perfect baby. We happen to have a very sensitive high strung girlie, who also power-naps. But we went from a cranky post-colicky baby who took no naps or 15-20min naps and got up many times per night to a sweet smiling girl who now takes 3 45min-1 hour naps per day and sleeps from 6pm-7am (waking 2 times to nurse). Oh yes. The nursing. She used to think that nursing was the only way to get to sleep. After diligently following the advice in this book, she now can get to sleep on her own, no nursing. Not that it's perfect - she still cries 5-15 minutes at times before naps. But she is sooooooo much happier now. Gotta think something's working.
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1,167 of 1,263 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2008
A friend purchased this book for us before our son was born, and we read it cover-to-cover. When our little guy entered the world, it didn't take long to discover that he had horrid colic, acid reflux to boot, and wouldn't even sleep lying down. We used his swing at firt, and as a breastfeeding mom, he often landed in bed somewhere in the middle of the night. I was determined, however, to have him in his crib before I went back to work at 3 months and this book helped me accomplish that... until he was about 6 months.

Once he was old enough to "decide" what he liked and didn't like, and probably due to seperation anxiety- he wouldn't go to sleep easy (cried every night) and began to wake a lot at night, crying for HOURS. After two weeks of the "ignore him" method, and then going "this isn't working at alL!", we tried another 3-4 weeks using the Ferber method (go in every few minutes). We were pulling our hair out. He was SOOOOO unhappy all day after a night of crying, and it got to the point where when you went to put him in his crib for a nap, he would arch his back and just sob... and scream at night. NO ONE was sleeping. Once he could stand (at 7 mos), he would cling to the bars of his crib crying and if he fell asleep, it was curled in the corner with his face against the bars... and we'd be off to a bad start from the moment he woke in the morning.

I started to give up.

Plain and simple. I couldn't do it. My husband and I had not slept in the same bed for more than a month at this point since we "alternated" whose turn it would be to listen to our son cry or try to sooth him in his crib. One of us would sleep seperate in the guest bedroom so at least the other could sleep(we are both attorneys, so our jobs require some level of executive functioning during the day). So one night, I broke down and put him in my bed around 3, and walla, he slept. The next night he was up five or six times between bedtime and again at about 3 my husband gave in. A few days later I got sick... with pneumonia that landed me in the hospital for 5 days (I do not smoke). The doctors kept asking how long I had been so sick and frankly, I hadn't noticed- because I was SO totally exhausted all the time and at wits end... I just thought I was a mom who was tired!

While I was away, my husband let our son sleep with him. And for the first time in almost two months, they both actually slept. I remember when I came home, I was annoyed, but what could I say to a man whose wife was in the hospital and who had been trying to take care of his son when he was totally exhausted? I was too tired to care, but as I watched him laying between us in bed the first night I came home, I couldn't help but feel this sense of guilt as I thought: "I swore I would never be one of those kid-in-my-bed people".

I'm one of them now. At 8 months, I've had the best three weeks of sleep since he was born. He doesn't "cuddle" or disturb us, he just sleeps better for some reason. And he wakes up happy, takes naps (IN HIS CRIB!) readily, and I don't know what else to say, other then, "it doesn't always work for everyone." I regret that I went through more than a month of that crying before letting go of the notion that what works for some kid because I read it in a book, will work for my kid. If being a parent were that easy, we'd all buy a manual and raise little drones.

So... Did I like the book? Yes. I think he's right that kids NEED sleep. Do I think that if you just hang in there- the crying will stop eventually? I don't know... more than a month was too long and I'd never do it again. Our pediatrician told us he believes a child at 7 months should never cry more than an hour. He also told us that he grew up in Bombay, slept in his parent's bed 'till he was 8, and turned out perfectly normal (and sleeps fine, without some weird attachment problem today) (that was in response to our very embarrased "well, he's been sleeping with us...") So maybe he's biased because in other countries they would never do the "put your kid in a crib and let them cry" method. Or MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, there is no perfect sleep solution that works for every kid. Maybe you can be coddled and turn out normal, or cry it out and have sleep problems later. I know plenty of people who slept all night like perfec babies in cribs who are on Lunestra and Ambien today...

Point is... read them all, or read none. At the end of the day, try different methods and don't beat yourself up when you choose something different than you read from one doctor last week. There's a book for everything and every kind of parenting, and 1000 parents who will march to the beat of that drum (or drink the cool-aid, depending on how you look at it!).

Be a parent, be flexible, and if you don't want to let your kid cry for a few weeks, put this one back on the shelf.
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792 of 946 people found the following review helpful
I generally like to start my reviews by saying what I liked about the book I read. In my opinion, the best and most important point made by this book is that sleep is vital for babies. Parents should be on the lookout for signs their child might be suffering from lack of it, and should also make sure their lifestyles do not interfere with their child's healthy sleep. I also appreciated the author's input about sleep problems and solutions for older children.
I disagreed most with the idea that it is generally a good idea to allow children to cry as long as it takes to get them to sleep at night. Will this method do long term psychological damage? The author says no, and I agree that is probably correct. Okay, so the child won't be delinquent as a teenager, or hate you as an adult. But as a parent, my question is which method is easiest on the child in the short term, as well as being effective in the long term? Frankly, I don't want my child to be unnecessarily miserable, even if it's only for a few nights. Further, I simply couldn't listen to screaming cries for any length of time without intervention.
For the parent interested in sleep "training", I think Dr. Richard Ferber offers a better method. Even Dr. Weissbluth admits Ferber's method's work- he simply thinks they may be too difficult for some parents to apply. Well, I think a little more difficulty may be worth while if the child has an easier time.
Oddly, Dr. Weissbluth claims to have no problems with the "family bed". However, I find his family bed advice confusing, and most of the tips he offers throughout the book seem to be incompatible with the practice. If anybody is practicing the family bed, they should definitely go with Dr. William Sears, whose advice is much more compatible with that arrangement. Dr. Sears is also a good choice for those who find Dr. Ferber too harsh and want the gentlest methods possible.
I tend to disagree with the view of some "attachment parents" that babies always develop the sleep habits that are best for them. There are babies who simply need parental leadership here, and there are also babies whose habits are disruptive to the family. So if parents think their baby has a problem, they should read several books about the topic, and adapt the different views to their personal situation and temperment of their individual child. I think that will lead to a better solution than reading just one book and treating it as a bible.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2006
Our baby is now 6 months old, post-colic, and I am now the owner of a dozen books on infant care, sleep training, baby scheduling, etc. The most important thing I've learned: If you have set beliefs, eg, "I never want to let me baby cry," you can find a book in print to support your beliefs. What's dangerous here is that some of the authors of these books are hardly experts on the things they are advising you on. I realized this after I read book after book, looking for concrete advice on how to handle my colicky baby and his seeming inability to sleep. The more I read, the more I was confused, because one "expert" would just conflict with the next... So the question became: Who to trust??? Although I loved the style and the spirit of books like "The Baby Whisperer", I didn't find this type of advice helpful -- it is largely anecdotal. Then I purchased Dr. Weissbluth's book. Dr. Weissbluth is a pediatrician who specializes in infant and children's sleep. When he makes recommendations, they are based on not just experience, but data collected on hundreds and hundreds of children and babies. And it shows. His recommendations work. And contrary to other reviewers, I don't find his suggestions to be rigid; he offers a range of solutions, from "no cry" to "let cry", when appropriate. He speaks firmly, but with empathy. Other books, like Baby Wise, made me believe that our baby should be able to sleep through the night after a few months. Dr. Weissbluth explained that some babies need to continue night feeding longer than others, and he explained how to tell if you have this type of baby. Following Dr. Weissbluth's advice, our baby cut back to one feeding by 5 months and stopped his night feedings at 6 months. He now goes down at night at 6pm and stays asleep, in his crib, until 6am. His naps are more sporadic, but he does nap, and he's now a happy, well-rested baby. I look forward to this book being a continued resource as our baby grows older and we inevitably move on to our next sleep challenge.
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203 of 257 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2000
As any marketing professional will tell you, not listening to your customers can have long term negative effects on your business. Yet American parents are routinely told to ingnore the cries of their children in order to receive a one-size-fits-all "product"--a baby who naps on schedule and sleeps ten or twelve hours through the night.
A friend gave me "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" as a baby gift. As an anxious first-time mother, I was frantic when I read Dr. Weissbluth's warning that unless my son learned to sleep in a certain way, he was likely to develop attention deficit disorder or be prone to injury. After additional reading on the topic, I no longer believe this to be true. In fact, the nursery-crib-sleep schedule phenomenon is a very recent development in human evolution.
Dr. Weissbluth's book is filled with anecdotes from exhausted parents who endured three or four nights of their child's hard crying, but were delighted with the results. He makes his method sound straightforward and simple. However, it took one of my neighbors eight weeks to sleep train her daughter. Another neighbor had to retrain her son because the training "wore off." After two weeks of sleep training, my cheerful six month old was a sullen, voracious thumbsucker who had lost weight and no longer trusted me implicitly.
Most of the mothers Dr. Weissbluth interviews confessed to an initial concern about emotionally damaging their children by letting them cry themselves to sleep. Dr. Weissbluth confidently assures them that they will do no such thing. How does he know this? There is a large volume of infant sleep research indicating that babies left alone to cry themselves to sleep experience numerous physiological changes, including elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Dr. Weissbluth offers hope and a quick fix for parents who want to or must limit the amount of time they spend attending to the needs of their children. For those parents willing and able to follow their instincts, though, I highly recommend the books "Our Babies, Ourselves" by anthropologist Meredith Small, and "Three in a Bed" by Deborah Jackson.
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303 of 386 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2001
UPDATE --

I re-read everything I wrote previously and it's all still true -- I think Weissbluth knows about that which he writes, but never forget that YOU know your own child best. I lost a lot of sleep over this book three years ago because I tormented myself for "failing" my son when it "wasn't working." Give yourself more credit! That said, my three-month-old daughter is a textbook sleeper for the most part. She is the one that I was convinced didn't exist when my son was this age. I've been able to put her down awake 75% to 90% of the time since she was born without her crying at all. To be honest, I'm still somewhat shocked about it. This just reinforces that the best path is to respond to your individual child's needs as best you can because each is SUCH an individual. I handle my daughter the same way I handled my son regarding attached parenting and sleep and she just "gets" going to sleep much more so than he did.

What also intrigues me is how spot-on the sleep patterns are -- my daughter's naps are still all over the map despite my attempts to adhere to a routine when possible, but when she's down for the night she's down -- with a few nighttime feedings, naturally, as she ends up in bed with my husband and me. My son still goes to bed early at almost 4 years old, gave up his nap early (2 1/2) in favor of earlier bedtime (6:00 then, 6:45ish now) and having the evenings "free" really works for my husband and me -- family time is in the morning. Do what works for YOU, your kids, and your whole family -- that's the most important thing!

Original review --

I have been a mom for six months now and I've learned more than I would have imagined. Most importantly I recognize that nothing in life is as straightforward as any book makes it out to be and it took me a long time to come to terms with that. I have waited for the day that I could write a review of this book reporting my AMAZING results. I decided to write now instead!

My son slept in bed with my husband and me for the first five months. We did it because we believed that was where a baby should be, and it worked for all of us. My son also did all his napping in a cloth sling. As he grew, this started NOT working for us, and I did some serious soul-searching.

I consider myself an attached parent. I have difficulty bearing my son crying, ever. If my son would have been able to continue napping with me I would have done it. But he didn't. Every time I would put him down, he would immediately wake up, either at bedtime or for a nap. It got to the point that he would go 12 hours during the day without any sleep at all and only be able to get to sleep at night nursing. He wasn't a raging beast, he just seemed like he needed more sleep. My gut, my instinct said sleep was important and that he wasn't getting it. Especially when people said, "When he needs to sleep, he'll sleep!" Not my social butterfly!

I wholeheartedly support attachment parenting, especially sleeping with your children -- as long as it works for everyone. My husband wasn't comfortable with the idea of our son in our bed for the long haul, so we decided to try Weissbluth's book upon many friends' recommendations.

I believe Weissbluth knows what he is talking about. I have observed my son for two months now and can see the periods of wakefulness in his arousals at night, the maximum time he can be awake without becoming overtired... all these things make sense and I have seen them in my son. He now takes two naps (which vary in length daily) and I put him down awake. I also put him to bed awake at night. MOST of the time, this works without causing him distress. Sometimes it doesn't, and we both cry for a while.

As I said at the beginning, I waited to write a review so I could report a "perfect" result... Life isn't perfect. When my sweet baby needs to sleep, I try to help and let him take it from there. Most of the time he gets there without getting crabby; sometimes he's ticked. Life is like that. I don't think I'd be doing him any favors if I wasn't consistent.

You know your own child. If your child needs you, you know. If your child is overtired, you know. This book will help you slowly but surely figure out how to keep your child from being overtired and most of the time it will work. I still have trouble coping when he has trouble getting to sleep, but certainly all of us are in better spirits more and more often, because my son is much more well rested.

I absolutely believe sincere effort to observe your own child and watch his or her cues is the key -- you want to give your child what he or she needs. All parents do. Sleep is a big need. Good luck!
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319 of 407 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2000
The whole philosophy of the book is that children's need for sleep takes precedence over all other needs of the child: need for security, (Maslow), need to develop trust (Erickson), and other basic needs like breastmilk and water.
Weissbluth's definition of a sleep problem is when the child not sleeping becomes a problem for the parent. His solution is that up to four months, parents should meet the babies' needs for cuddles, feeding, etc. After four months, he advocates letting the baby cry it out for however long it takes until the baby stops crying and goes to sleep. The parents are not to check on the baby or pat it's back or talk. When asked "How long should I let my baby cry?", he replies, "to establish regular naps, and consolidated sleep overnight, there is no time limit." p.134 "We are leaving the baby alone to forget the expection to be picked up."
The most offensive part of the book in on page 157 in the 4 month to 12 month age, where he replies to a mother whose baby is so upset, she vomits: "If the vomiting always occurs, I think you will want to always go in to clean her promptly and then leave her again. If the vomiting is irregular and occasional, you should try waiting until after you think she is deeply asleep before checking, and then quickly clean her if needed."
The parents are not to check to see if the baby choked? They are advised to make her fall asleep in her vomit? What if her body is dangling from the crib slats? What if she has a tummyache, or is hungry or has a thread wrapped around her toe? The parents are just supposed to ignore it until she gives up sobbing in desparation?
Weissbluth also makes statements in the book that are not backed by studies:
Letting a baby cry for hours on end without soothing, reassuring, or picking up, does no emotional damage in the long term.
Kids become independent by being ignored and learning to meet their own needs by self soothing, rahter then by being nurtured ny parents and having their needs met quickly.
Kids that demand more emotional/social time with parents are called "bratty".
Temperment can be changed by sleep increases. A child's behaviour is not linked to temperment, but is linked to the amount of rest they get.
Parents have ultimate *control* over their child's sleep. They are not just facilitators of sleep, but can make their children go to sleep.
Breastmilk and formula are just as satiating because of the similar calorie count. (He discounts that breastmilk is easier to digest and therefore breastfed babies can be hungrier through the night. )
Adults who are addicted to their lovers, probably had Mothers who couldn't allow them to separate, self soothe, or grow. p.236
A nine month old baby has the cognitive ability to "stick it to his Mother" and planned out ways to manipulate her. p.218
Infants that have every need met are left with "undischarged aggression". The infant is robbed of desire because his every need is anticipated and met before being experienced. p.78
"Two and a half hours of crying is normal during a sleep training program. " (The baby is two months old.) P. 97 to 99
The need for attention and soothing at night is not a need, but a want, like the desire for candy. p. 164
This book is not only cruel but dangerous. A parent who can ignore her babies crys in the midst of vomit for hours on end, is not going to be a nurturing, responsive parent during the day. The need for attention, food, soothing, cuddles and security are basic needs of babies and children. Sleep is also a need. As a responsible parent you can find ways to give your child both.
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69 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2007
I got this book because I had seen a few parents suggest this title in an online parenting forum on infant sleep, but when I read the book I was sickened at some of Weissbluth's methods - tent cribs, locking the bedroom door, and earplugs to block out the sound of your child crying. That's not parenting - that's neglect. I can't believe this passes off as medical advise.

As it turns out, my daugheter's sleep troubles were caused by a low-level cow's milk allergy. I cut dairy out of both of our diets (we're still nursing), and she started sleeping. Weissbluth doesn't even address the possiblity that there could be a biological basis to sleep distrubances even though it's well documented in the medical literature (see Kahn et. al; Pediatrics; Dec 1985). If I had followed the advise in this book, I would have left my daughter locked crying alone in a dark room with gas and a tummyache caused by an undiagnosed allergy.

The only thing I can say is somewhat helpful is the *data* Weissbluth supplies on what kinds of sleep to expect at what ages (ex: 2 naps at 12 months, 1 nap by 15 months, etc). But, I didn't find it worth it to sift through pages of quasi-medical hooey in this book to get there.
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224 of 286 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2004
I can't believe that this book is being paired with "The No Cry Sleep Solution"! They are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as philosophies go.

I was first impressed by Weisbluth's use of charts and research etc. and I agreed with his premise that babies need sleep. It is our responsibility as parents to make sure that babies get the sleep that they need even when they want to stay up and play until they're ready to drop.

My approval for what he was saying changed dramatically when one of the success stories he used was of a family that let their son cry for an hour and a half. They had to close two doors between them and the nursery and sit in another part of the house to endure the screaming. When their son did fall asleep, they found that he'd fallen asleep standing up hanging over the rail of the crib. He cried for an hour the next night, once again falling asleep hanging over the rail. After a week their son fell asleep with "minimal" crying and only backslides occasionally.

This is a success story?

That is horrifying!!

My concern is that these "sleep experts" are measuring success as a child going to sleep without a lot of crying and then sleeping through the night. I don't think that they're taking the whole child into consideration. What about the child who is then clingy and fussy the whole next day after 90 minutes of crying the night before? What about the child who wakes up a few times during the night - do you let them cry for another 90 minutes? What about those of us who've tried the "cry it out" method and then have a child who is terrified of the nursery at night because they know what's coming?

If all you care about is throwing your kid in a crib at 8:00 so you don't have to deal with them until the next morning, then it seems as if giving them a sleeping pill would be more humane. Hey, parenting isn't a part-time job! It will involve nights and weekends.

I do recommend Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution", however. She acknowledges that different kids have different personalities and that not all children require the same amount of sleep. She also has suggestions for parents who want to keep their babies in bed with them (Attachment Parenting) but don't want 15 wake-ups during the night. Her book was far more humane and took into consideration the fact that what happens at night has repurcussions for the next day as well. She doesn't offer a quick-fix but encourages patience and love and compassion.
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68 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
I'm an educated woman--I have a PhD and everything--and while I realize that several months of sleep deprivation may have clouded my thinking somewhat, I was completely baffled by this book. The 'range' of solutions offered seemed to contradict one another and only left me feeling more confused than helped. Many reviewers have referred to "the Program" offered in the book--but I have hunted through it twice now and still do not find a "program" so much as a series of statistics and interesting observations that do not lead to any unified conclusion at all. WHat does it mean to say that you have to figure out which method works best for "your child" (vis cry, maybe cry, no cry)--who out there is thinking "MY child really NEEDS to cry for three hours"? I'm not saying that extinction doesn't work--but either advise it or don't. All the hedging and second guessing the book offers makes me feel profoundly inadequate no matter WHAT I do. Even when a technique WORKS, I keep thinking "but maybe I'm should have done it some other way."
I'm struck by how many people found this book clear and helpful. Perhaps it is just me and I don't do well with ambiguity. But I must say that I feel much worse having read this book than I did previously.
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