Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Most parents, doctors, and parenting experts agree on one thing: babies and children need to get enough sleep.

However, there's plenty of hearty disagreement surrounding the details of how and where they should sleep.

As a brand-new parent it's hard to know what to believe and which method to follow. It's not much easier to listen to your gut, which can give you advice that is every bit as conflicting as the plethora of baby sleep books.

In the end, I believe parents have to find their own way. It may be a long and winding road, but eventually, you'll figure out what works best for your family.

If you want to start down that winding road with a book, I'd recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. I really wish I would have gotten my hands on a copy of this book years ago, but I was glad to find it before my third child was born. It is thorough, practical, research-based, reassuring, and easy to read.

Instead of just presenting one method, Dr. Weissbluth writes, "There are many ways to help your child sleep. You should choose the solution that works best for you and your child."

He discusses a variety of sleep strategies, along with the importance of healthy sleep, how much babies and children need at different ages, the stages of sleep, specific problems and solutions, and how temperament affects sleep.

All in all, I found this to be the most useful and balanced of all the books I have read about children's sleep. (And let me tell you, I've read many, many books about children's sleep.)

Next Thursday, I'll review a brand new book devoted entirely to the subject of naps.

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