Sleeping through the night

In my experience working with children and their families, from babysitting to nannying to working as a school psychologist, parents are continually asking me for advice about their child’s sleep. Particularly while nannying, parents were the most concerned with how to get their infant (or even preschooler) to sleep through the night. Some parents were concerned that letting their child “cry it out” would damage the parent-child relationship. They felt that the child would feel the parent was non-responsive to their needs and, therefore, would be upset at the parent. Other parents stuck it out and after a couple of nights of crying (parent and child!), everyone was sleeping more. I wanted to know what the best intervention is to help infants sleep through the night and this carried over into my research in grad school. My dissertation was on the effectiveness of pediatric behavioral sleep interventions (a meta-analysis) and it was shown that these interventions are extremely effective and that it does not damage the child in the short or long run to let the child cry it out.

The book I always recommend to new parents is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. This book is a great middle ground for those parents who do not want a severe schedule, such as Babywise, or the opposite end of the spectrum (attachment parenting – Dr. Sears). Dr. Weissbluth does an excellent job of incorporating research and physiology into explaining how to develop a healthy sleep schedule over the course of development, along with problem solving strategies for different situations. What is your favorite sleep parenting book?

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