Soothe baby to sleep

Local doctor tells you how

In postpartum desperation, I scoured the bookshelves for advice on helping my newborn sleep. After an unscientific survey of friends and family and hours in the library speed reading their recommendations, I found what I was looking for: Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

Like most sleep books, the chapters are organized by a child’s age, with an emphasis on the first year. There are also chapters on toddlers, preschoolers, schoolchildren and adolescents. Each chapter offers an explanation of developmental issues affecting sleep, advice and a mini-FAQ section.

Sprinkled throughout the book are testimonials from Weissbluth’s patients. Weissbluth, a pediatrics professor at Northwestern University, is sensitive to different parenting styles and gives specific advice for working, single and stay-at-home moms; breast- and bottle-fed babies; and parents following the family bed philosophy.

What is most compelling about this book are the chapters that discuss the importance of sleep for babies. After reading them, my perspective on sleep changed in two major ways.

First, I now see sleeping as important as eating for my child. In that first year, rapid brain development occurs while he sleeps. Second, I learned that the more a baby sleeps, the more he will sleep. This seemed counterintuitive to me in the midst of the advice I received from people to "keep my child awake in the early evening" so he would sleep longer at night. The opposite is true. Better naps during the day resulted in better sleep at night.

This book equipped my husband and me with knowledge about sleep and guidelines on how to schedule naps, read our baby’s drowsy signals and soothe our baby to sleep.

Patty Keyuranggul


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