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Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping Paperback – January 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


Cosleeping is one of the most delicious experiences in parenting, and Dr. McKenna's carefully researched and thoughtful advice separates the myths from the marvelous reality. -- Harvey Karp, M.D.

From the Publisher

In 1978 our adventures of sleeping with our babies began. Prior to that year, our first three children were easy sleepers and we were part of the crib-and-cradle set. Then came our fourth child, Hayden, whose birth changed our parenting night life forever. As we had with our previous children, we customarily placed Hayden in her crib in the early weeks, but she awoke frequently, as if experiencing a sort of nighttime anxiety. One night my exhausted wife, Martha, said, "I don't care what the books say. I've got to get some sleep..." She welcomed Hayden into our bed, the nursing pair slept peacefully, and the rest is beautiful history.

We coslept with our next four infants - one at a time - until weaning. As a young pediatrician with no medical training in where babies should sleep I was fascinated by the restful synchrony that I saw between the nursing pair. Martha would partially awaken just before Hayden would. Martha would nurse or comfort her back to sleep and neither member of the nursing pair completely awakened. Wow! Something good is happening here, I thought. If only I could wire up mother and baby and scientifically prove that something healthful is going on between them when they share a bed, then I could quiet the separate sleeping crowd who warned us of the "bad habit," saying "she'll never get out of your bed," and the unwarranted fears of terminal dependency. The prevailing nighttime mindset of the time was fostering selfsoothing and early independence.

Then, in 1981, I met Dr. McKenna whose interest and passion was to scientifically study mothers and babies in various sleeping arrangements and to document the physiological differences between cosleepers and separate sleepers. I still remember at our lunch meeting saying, "Jim, I'm going to follow your studies very carefully, since I'm certain a lot of good things occur while mother and baby sleep close to each other, I just can't prove it." My medical motto has always been "show me the science." Childrearing is too valuable to be left to opinions alone. Besides, I was then dubbed, "The daring doctor who recommends mothers sleep with their babies."

Twenty-five years and many scientific articles later, Dr. McKenna has proved what intuitive parents have long suspected: something healthful happens to mother and baby when they cosleep. In this book, Dr. McKenna shows us the science. Readers can trust that Dr. McKenna's sleep laboratory monitoring sleep-sharing pairs, and he relates his observations in easy-to-read language and captivating conclusions.

In nighttime parenting our eight children, we learned a valuable lesson in deciding where babies should sleep: get behind the eyes of your baby and ask yourself, "If I were my baby, where would I want to sleep?" Would your baby want to sleep alone in a separate room, behind bars, with a high risk of experiencing nighttime anxiety, or would your baby rather be nestled next to their favorite person in the whole wide world and enjoy nighttime restfulness?

In this book you will find trusted advice from the world's authority on sleeping with your baby.
-William Sears, M.D.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Platypus Media; 1 edition (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930775342
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930775343
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Ann Douglas on June 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
In the preface to this book, attachment parenting guru William Sears, MD, author of The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library), identifies James J. McKenna, PhD, as the leading authority on co-sleeping -- and for good reason. Through his work as the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame and through countless studies published in collaboration with researchers around the world, McKenna has established a highly specialized niche, mastering the knowledge of the science and anthropology of co-sleeping.

Back when I was writing my own sleep book a year ago -- Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage (Mother of All Solutions) -- I noted that what co-sleeping parents really needed was some sort of guide to safe -- or safer -- co-sleeping: a book that summarized all the best evidence on safe sleeping (as applied to various co-sleeping arrangments) and presented this information in a clear and practical way. In writing Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping, McKenna has written just such a book.

Providing photos that clearly illustrate the dangers of entrapment and that caution parents against other situations that would make bedsharing a poor choice (e.g.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Doreen on March 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
My son is 3 years old now, and an excellent sleeper. In his own bed, and sometimes with me in his bed. Bedtime is a happy time for us, and is initiated by my son 99% of the time.

Three years ago I read everything I could get my hands on by Dr. McKenna. His website and various articles and letters gave me alot of confidence that what I was doing was perfectly normal and natural (I was only making the mistake of telling everyone what I was doing Ha!)

I am very happy that he has put this book out. Co-sleeping when done with forethought to the safety of the environment, and done by a healthy, sober, rational mother is very safe. It also helps the breastfeeding mother rest and continue the breastfeeding relationship.

Thank you again!
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ann F. Grauer on March 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
James McKenna has given parents a true gift with his book "Sleeping With Your Baby". He has given us the gift of peace of mind.

Up until now parents have been confused as to whether or not they could or should sleep with their babies. Is it safe? Is it dangerous psychologically? Will you create a "bad habit" by doing so? The well-meaning comments of family and friends, as well as the confusing information in newspapers and the media about this topic have only made parents feel guilty if they do cosleep.

Dr. McKenna is a leading researcher in the field of maternal-infant sleep. But don't let that scare you---this is not a dry science book. It is written with wit, warmth, kindness and is straight to the point: all sleeping must be done safely, whether done in a crib or a parent's bed. He explains the biological need of human beings to be close at night and helps us to understand how we can integrate this into our own lives. And he does so with science supporting his stance and without judgment regarding the choices of parents.

Thank you, Dr. McKenna, for this gift! I will be recommending this book to new parents and I will be giving it to expectant families. I have a feeling parents everywhere will sleep a little easier after reading your lovely, intelligent and helpful book. And I'll sleep a little easier knowing that I have shared it with them.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By S. Lancaster on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have ever wondered why billion of babies around the world have survived eons of human history sleeping with their parents when it's obviously so dangerous, this is the book for you. If you cosleep with your baby, and your family is completely ballistic over it, this the is book for you (and them). If you are stumbling through the early days of parenting wondering why your baby screams bloody murder every time you lay him in his beautifully decorated nursery, this is the book for you. If you occasionally take your baby back to bed with you in a desperate bid for sleep, then feel horribly guilty in the morning, this is the book for you. This book is smart, easy to read and packed from front to back with scientifically validated information.

This book is an incredibly easy read. I believe it's about ninety pages long, so even a sleep-deprived parent or a recalcitrant partner can read it quickly. Within those pages is a huge amount of information. Rather than expousing his pet theories, McKenna brings in the research, and lots of it. Nevertheless, he keeps his book accessible and easy to read. I was never overwhelmed by the technobabble that occasionally accompanies quotations of scientific research. McKenna doesn't tell you what is best for your baby. He doesn't tell you where your child has to sleep. He offers many different options and leaves it to each family to decide what works best for them. For each option, he also offers information about when it would not be safe. After reading this book, I felt validated in most of the sleeping choices our family has made. I also realized that one of them was extrememly dangerous - falling asleep with our baby on the couch. Finally, Dr.
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