Best Gentle Sleep Training Books in 2021
The No-Cry Sleep Solution, Second Edition
Precious Little Sleep: The Complete Baby Sleep Guide for Modern Parents
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
The Gentle Sleep Book: Gentle, No-Tears, Sleep Solutions for Parents of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns: Amazing Sleep from Day One â€“ For Baby and You
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Childâ€™s Sleep: Foreword by Dr. Harvey Karp
The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5
The Sleep LadyÂ®'s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy
- Effective approach to helping children learn to gently put themselves to sleep
- Essential reading for any tired parent, or any expectant parent .
- What you can do to improve your baby's sleep habits before 6 months.
- New information on breastfeeding & preparing a sibling for the birth of a baby.
- How to read your baby's cries.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 4th Edition: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep
Holistic Sleep Coaching: Gentle Alternatives to Sleep Training for Health and Childcare Professionals
Why Sleep Training Harms Infants
We've all heard of the scenario where new parents allow their babies to cry, uncomforted, for extended lengths of time, in the vain hope that what they are doing will help their baby to soothe itself to sleep.
There are many different names for the concept of sleep training. Some choose to use terminology that refers to it as the "cry it out approach," which is at least highly accurate in its description, while others refer to the practice as "ferberizing," a name coined after Dr. Richard Ferber, who once advocated this parenting approach to some extent. But whatever name you choose to call it, it is a practice that is highly damaging to infants.
In a study conducted by Dr. Michael Commons of Harvard Medical School, researchers found a clear link between babies that were left to cry for extended periods of time and exceedingly high levels of the human stress hormone cortisol in babies' brains. Dr. Michael Commons noted that constant stimulation by cortisol in an infant's brain caused physical changes to it that would make children more prone to mental illness in the future, as well as a myriad of other health and psychological problems. "These are real changes, and they don't go away," Dr. Commons insisted.
In another study that was conducted in 2003 by the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, doctors adamantly stated that, "AAIMH is is concerned that the widely practiced technique of controlled crying is not consistent with what the infants need for their optimal emotional and psychological health, and may have unintended negative consequences."
Even Dr. Richard Ferber has come out publicly and declared that co-sleeping is fine if it works for the parents and the baby, and that he himself could never follow the cry it out approach. Dr. Ferber claims to feel bad now about any harm that has been done to infants by the widespread following of this approach, which is continually being taken to new levels.
Just what is the cry it out approach, you ask?
A parent is told to put their new baby to sleep on their backs in their crib, even if they are crying, and to leave the baby there. Some mothers pat their babies and may even tell them that they are sorry while the baby continues to cry. The mother feels horrible and guilty as her baby cries as this act goes against all known human biology. If the mother normally breastfeeds her child, she may notice that her breasts are suddenly heavy with milk as the infant's crying signals a need for increased milk production. Regardless of this fact, the mother leaves the room while her baby cries.
Once an allotted time has passed, say, 15 minutes, the mother comes back in to see her baby again, and finds the baby probably still crying. The mother will probably still feel awful, but won't pick up her crying infant. She leaves the room again after patting baby and reassuring him or her. This cycle is repeated for however long it takes until the baby is finally asleep.
This approach is what is known as sleep training. The theory goes that eventually, in the days, weeks, and months to come, your baby will learn to soothe him or herself and eventually fall asleep on its own without crying. Parents say that this method works, and as proof of it declare that their babies now go to sleep without crying. But these parents are missing one very important and fundamental point.
Yes, sleep training works. But it only works if you are willing to sacrifice the well being of your child in exchange for your baby being passive. What parents fail to realize is that their baby has not stopped crying because they are able to soothe themselves to sleep nightly. No, their baby has stopped crying because they've simply given up. They know that when they try to communicate, their needs are not met -- they are blatantly ignored, in fact. The baby has learned that its parents cannot be counted on to meet its needs, and thus communication has ceased.
Here is an analogy for everyone to ponder.
Imagine that one day you wake up and find yourself in a totally new environment. You don't recognize anyone or anything around you, and you have no idea where you are. All you see are unfamiliar faces, and you have no idea what to do. You're feeling slightly alone and rightfully frightened, so you ask the person that you see a few feet away from you for help. This person doesn't respond to you. They obviously can't understand you. The more you try to converse with those around you, the more you realize that they can't understand a single word you are saying. Now you really begin to worry as they obviously don't speak your language. But what other language do you know besides English? Now imagine that you're feeling hungry or thirsty. These strange people around you are your only hope, and so you try desperately to get their attention, but to no avail. Nothing seems to be working, and apparently all hope is lost.
This is what being a newborn baby is like.
A newborn baby has come into this world totally dependent upon its parents, for better or for worse, for its survival and for its needs to be met. The only language the newborn has to communicate with you right now is crying. Imagine being a newborn and coming to the conclusion that those strange people around you -- your parents -- cannot meet your needs and how frustrating that must be to them.
It is rare for a new baby to sleep through the night. A new baby's sleep cycles are different from that of an adult's. It is unreasonable for any parent to expect their baby to sleep through the night. Furthermore, sleeping through the night is technically defined as sleeping for no longer than 4 to 6 hours.
As an adult, do you sleep through the night, every night? I would venture to say that most people reading this don't. It's quite rare for anyone to sleep through the entire night without waking up, in fact. If we wake up needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night ourselves, or need a glass of water, how would we feel if we were told that it "wasn't time yet," and were forced to lay in bed for a specified period of time? It seems highly illogical that an adult would lay in bed without taking care of their needs in situations like these. Why then do parents expect their new babies to be any different?
For those that are expecting new babies soon or for those who are already mothers of young babies, I ask you to seriously contemplate the above. Put yourself in the position of a new baby and ask yourself how YOU would feel if you were left to cry for minutes or hours at a time. Ask yourselves also how you would feel if you were crying and were not only rebuffed by your husband, but left alone to do so. I don't think most marriages would last under such circumstances. Which makes me wonder: why do we treat adults better than we treat our own children?