Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family

Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family
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ISBN:  978-1-78066-155-1
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  (12 Reviews)

Authors: La Leche League International | Diane Wiessinger | Diane West | Linda J. Smith | Teresa Pitman
Foreword: Mayim Bialik  Preface: Helen Ball
​Published: July 29th, 2014
Edition: 1st

Binding: paperback
Format: 156 x 232 mm
Pages: 512
Illustrations: 92 b/w photographs
Pinter & Martin territories: wordwide excl US/Canada
Translation rights: Random House US

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Sweet Sleep is the first and most complete book on nights and naps for breastfeeding families. It is a how-to guide for making sane and safe decisions on how and where your family sleeps, including words of wisdom and reassurance from mothers, all backed up by the latest research.

It’s 4 a.m. You’ve breastfed your baby five times throughout the night. You’re beyond exhausted. But where can you breastfeed safely when you might fall asleep? You’ve heard that your bed is dangerous for babies. Or is it? Is there a way to reduce the risk? Does life really have to be this hard? No, it doesn’t. Sweet Sleep is within reach. This invaluable resource will help you

  • sleep better tonight in under ten minutes with the Quick Start guide – and sleep safer every night with the Safe Sleep Seven
  • sort out the facts and fictions of bedsharing and SIDS
  • learn about normal sleep at every age and stage, from newborn to new parent
  • direct your baby toward longer sleep when he’s ready
  • tailor your approach to your baby’s temperament
  • uncover the hidden costs of sleep training and “cry it out” techniques
  • navigate naps at home and daycare handle criticism from family, friends, and health professionals
  • enjoy stories and tips from mothers like you
  • make the soundest sleep decisions for your family and your life

For free Sweet Sleep leaflets aimed at parents for childbirth educators and healthcare professionals, please see resources.

Average Rating (12 Reviews):  
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Full of practical help
Monday, 24 November 2014  | 

Sweet Sleep is a La Leche League publication, written by some of the well-known names in the LLL world, and as such it sets out a very definitely baby-centred philosophical position, as you might expect. It very nearly does manage to achieve a balanced tone with regard to the fact that not all families breastfeed, and even includes a chapter on how to cope if you don't have this powerful parenting tool available to you (adoptive families, for instance), but its subtitle clearly states “for the Breastfeeding Family” and this is where its real strength lies.

There is a wealth of advice available online, from health professionals, and among families and friends, for parents who want techniques to “train” their babies to sleep. Sweet Sleep fills a gap for the parents who want to work within their babies' normal development, with gentle nudges from stage to stage, but allowing for kind and responsive parenting.

Sweet Sleep is packed with practical suggestions, and sensibly begins with a chapter full of immediate ideas for getting more sleep tonight. It focuses straight away on the Safe Sleep Seven, which are rules for emergency bedsharing. Given that statistics show unplanned bedsharing to be far riskier than planned bedsharing, helping parents to plan for it is a really good place to start.

It goes on to explain normal sleep, drawing on anthropology, biology, and worldwide cultural practices. This is followed by safety information, gentle nudges for different ages and stages, and suggestions for different scenarios such as premature babies, twins and so on. The chapter on SIDS and suffocation is comprehensive and well-explained; and finally the book offers suggestions for talking to supportive and non-supportive people about an attachment parenting approach to coping with nights.

This book is well-referenced throughout, and illustrated with quotes from the authors' own stories and from other families. Once too often I found myself frustrated that the authors touch on a point and promise to explain it more in a later chapter, making me dip about in the book rather than reading it through as I wanted to. I was not particularly surprised that the section on Getting Help/Giving Help only mentions La Leche League, when there are quite a number of other organisations, including NCT, who could also support parents in these situations.

On the whole I found this book useful both in terms of practical help for parents of co-sleeping/breastfeeding babies, and ways of thinking/talking about risk and responsiveness, which I find a lot of new parents and parents-to-be worry about. It's good to have a book that supports parents to follow their instincts and find their own rhythms.

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Saturday, 8 November 2014  | 

This fantastic book instils confidence to share your bed with your breastfed baby; after all it is the biological norm and perfectly safe providing you follow the safe sleep seven rules. It’s thoroughly scientifically researched, with common sense advice where research is lacking. In fact since reading the book my own breastfed family have changed sleeping habits with remarkable results. Everyone who works with mothers and babies should read it, as there’s so much misleading and counterproductive advice out there, particularly for first-time mums. It is clear from research the safest place for a healthy term breastfeeding baby is to sleep on a supportive bed with mum, indeed it is actually protective of SIDS; separate sleep should only be advised for vulnerable and/or formula fed babies.

Sweet Sleep is easy to read as broken down into separate parts and chapters; I was completely hooked once I read the magnet analogy in chapter three. It pictures mother and baby as two magnets with degrees of tension. With bottle-fed babies as anyone can feed them there’s no tension, physical or hormone connection, pulling mother and baby together. Breastfed babies instinctively kept close to their mother at all times will have no tension between them either, as their hormones are in sync.

Western-style breastfeeding however causes immense tension as mothers are told not to keep baby too close- don’t feed too often, don’t hold too much, don’t bedshare or feed to sleep etc.; but no advice what to do when you and baby are shattered and need to be together but also get some sleep. This is the hardest way to mother; I can certainly vouch for that! I didn’t even attempt to bedshare for over a year, baby was a month premature and guidelines state don’t bedshare with babies born early. Sweet Sleep tackles this dilemma as there’s no research, share your bed with your older preemie when you feel baby is old and strong enough, simples! So I could, and should, have bedshared from two months but only started full-time at two and a half; we have both never slept so well and have no tension between us now, it’s amazing.

The book covers practicalities such as naps, nights, going back to work, modifying bedsharing techniques for vulnerable babies and sleep gadgets. Ages and stages deal with hospital to toddlerhood and beyond, and it’s comforting to know breastfeeding/bedsharing mothers get more sleep than both formula feeding and separate sleeping breastfeeding mums. The science of safe sleep tackles the dangers of sleep training, real risks of SIDS and suffocation (yes they are different) and controversies that have led to standardised advice which in turn leads to risky practice. The help section at the end has questions and answers, how to deal with criticism and both getting and giving help.

The only piece I don’t agree with is that hospitals certified as Baby-Friendly work hard to support breastfeeding and keeping mother and baby together through evidence based practice; unfortunately I know of some hospitals that sadly fail to deliver due to embedded cultural practice. All in all Sweet Sleep is a wonderful book and a must read for all expectant families, parents and even those with toddlers or older. It’s never too late to make amends, and my sleep is all the more sweeter for reading it.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

A refreshing take on an age old problem
Friday, 3 October 2014  | 

Having spent 2 1/2 years bed sharing and breast feeding my daughter, I only wish I'd read this book sooner. Her frequent night waking and feeding was a source of great interest to many friends, family, strangers and professionals, who were often armed with "helpful" advice. I was often left doubting my instincts and parenting style, and made to feel that my daughter's sleeping habits were problematic.
Sweet Sleep is a refreshingly different take on the age old problem of babies and toddler's sleeping habits. With practical common sense advice and strategies for different age groups, the "safe seven" list of criteria to follow when bed sharing, it normalises the breast feeding and bed sharing relationship that so many mothers are made to feel is wrong.
The chapters are well divided into different age groups, and the question and answer section at the back is comprehensive and well written, including a lot of the common myths surrounding night time nursing (tooth decay, etc). I also particularly liked the tear out fact sheets at the back, which I plan to use when my parenting style is next put under scrutiny!
The book does - as would be expected by a La Leche League publication - focus heavily on the breast feeding relationship between mother and child, so unless you are breast feeding/ planning to breast feed this probably isn't the book for you. I would highly recommend breast feeding mothers to read it though.
My second baby is due in 10 weeks time, and Sweet Sleep has given me the confidence to follow my instincts, backed up with solid research and well thought out arguments to advocate bed sharing and breast feeding.
Well done La Leche League.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

Must-read for breastfeeding families, open to the idea of bedsharing!
Thursday, 2 October 2014  | 

As a first time mother I constantly feel conflicted about my child rearing decisions. It frequently feels like my instinct and the advice of friends and family, books, newspaper articles is at odds. To make matters worse, I often feel like I'm not being treated as a responsible adult, capable of making informed decisions about the best thing for my baby. So when I read the line "Take the information we present and [...] decide what's best for you, your baby, and your family." I knew this book was worth reading.

Sweet Sleep is a practical, commonsense guide to guilt-free sleeping with your baby. It addresses numerous issues and answers a lot of questions - not only about sleeping at night and during the day, but also about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, strategies for returning to work and many other useful topics. I didn't read Sweet Sleep until my baby was 6 months old, and I wish I'd read it sooner as I feel like it could have saved me from a lot of heartache. As it is I learned a lot - like the "safe sleep seven" - Guidelines for safe bedsharing which ensure "your baby's risk of SIDs when he's sleeping next to you in your bed is no greater than when he's alone in a cot." Why didn't anyone tell me this before?! 6 months of guilt about bedsharing - gone! Also, "Even researchers who are concerned about bedsharing agree than by 4 months it's a non-issue". Again, this is the first time I've ever read this - current NHS and NICE guidance simply says "don't bedshare during the first year."

Do note the subtitle "Nighttime and naptime strategies for the Breastfeeding Family". If you are not breastfeeding, whether through choice or circumstance, be aware that this book (unsurprisingly, given it is La Leche League) leans heavily on breastfeeding. As such it could rub some people up the wrong way. Similarly, if you're not open to the idea of bedsharing, this one's probably not for you. But I would definitely recommend this book to breastfeeding families who are open to the idea of bedsharing, or who are already bedsharing. It could change your life!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

Amazing must-buy book!
Thursday, 2 October 2014  | 

Firsty, to summarise my review - this book is amazing. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all expectant parents, current parents, midwives, health visitors, doctors... everyone basically!

Now, this book does not claim to magically make your baby/toddler/child sleep for unnaturally (and frankly dangerously) long periods, nor does it give strict instructions or routines or crying strategies to force your child into sleeping. In fact, it will tell you why all of those things might not actually be beneficial. It will explain to you what biologically normal sleep patterns for babies/toddlers/children are, rather than the cultural norm that is (wrongly) expected of them. Understanding that normality, in my experience, helps a great deal immediately.

Many mothers currently are terrified into not sharing a bed with their baby, mostly by misleading headlines and information from flawed studies. Sweet Sleep clarifies this, and provides evidence based reassurance that bedsharing (sometimes called co-sleeping) can be and is done perfectly safely, with no more risk than a baby being in a crib. This is achieved by the fantastically thought out 'Safe Sleep 7' rules for safe bedsharing, which are frequently referred to and explained in great detail in the book. Frankly, whether you plan to bedshare or not, this is worth reading because most parents at some point will fall asleep with their baby, so why not prepare yourself by becoming armed with knowledge on how to do this safely.

Sweet Sleep focusses on the biologically normal sleep patterns of a breastfed baby, which is hugely refreshing to see in parenting books, let alone sleep books. Not only that, it details how breastfeeding at night is so important for both mum and baby. However, there is also information for parents of babies who are partially or not at all breastfed, and parents of adopted babies and those with additional needs. Literally something for everyone.

The book is so easy to read. There's so much detailed (and absolutely fascinating) information in there that it could have been quite daunting to plough through, but it's not at all. In fact, you won't want to put it down. The information is interspersed by quotes from parents and summary boxes. And at the end of each chapter there are bullet points to sum up the chapter. The chapters link perfectly together. Although I'd recommend you read from cover to cover (I love it - can't you tell?!), you can easily dip in and out of the chapters that are more relevant to your specific needs.

This book is a game changer in the parenting and baby sleep book market - finally, a book that won't tell you to leave your baby to cry for hours on end, all alone. Finally a book that actively encourages you to follow both your own and your baby's instincts! Finally a book about sleep that actively encourages and supports breastfeeding - both day and night.

An absolute must-buy for any parents! (And everyone else!)

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Essential reading for anyone involved with new families
Thursday, 2 October 2014  | 

This book is incredibly well researched and yet very easy to read. Equally relevant for everyone involved with young families; expectant, new (or not so new!) parents, breastfeeding counsellors, doulas, and healthcare professionals alike.

Sweet Sleep is easy to dip in to quickly to find quick answers to queries or concerns, but equally reads well cover to cover. The deeply practical suggestions for maximising everybody's sleep, safely, based on the reality of life with babies and young children, is full of stories from parents all over the world, sharing what has worked for them and encouraging other families to find their own way too.

This isn't a quick-fix book, but rather gives a fascinating insight in to normal infant, child and adult sleep, and then discusses different ways of getting everybody's needs met with real warmth and compassion - the
parents' and the baby's need for sleep and the baby's very real need to be close to its mother.

It looks at where current fears around bed-sharing come from and shows what thorough, rigorous research actually says about shared sleep. It clarifies the difference between Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation and how to minimise the risks of both, while putting these risks in to perspective. This information will help families to make truly informed decisions about how to manage sleep
in their family.

A super book that I can't recommend highly enough.

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Must read for mothers who are thinking of breastfeeding
Monday, 29 September 2014  | 

I have just finished reading safe sleep. I found the book really enlightening. My son and first child is currently 22 months, he is still breastfeeding and shares our bed from around 2 am onwards. When he was first born I decided to try breastfeeding, for us it's been a dream he took to it like a duck on water and other than a few blocked ducts it's been smooth sailing. Sleep was another matter entirely Jacob was 4 months before we tried bed sharing by that point I was at my wits end we were both exhausted, he only wanted to sleep where I was and hated Moses baskets and cots. I wish I'd had this book sooner! The safe steps it list are brilliant it's so refreshing to read a book that says it's ok to follow your instincts and keep baby close And not feel the need to be constantly placing him back in his Moses basket on his back at the right temperature. I spent so many hours awake watching him sleep due to fear of SIDS that was instilled in me by the healthcare professionals. The book says it's ok to have your baby with you and it doesn't increase the risk of SIDS and it's great that it's backed up with science the whole chapter on SIDS was brilliant, this section was a section I wished I had when my baby was a newborn because like the book no one wants to really think about it but it is something that you constantly worry about, it was the main reason I refused to bed share before my boy was 4 months.
I fail to have any criticisms about this book it is aimed at breastfeeding and bed sharing families and in my opinion it delivers. It gives mothers back the confidence to follow their instincts I would recommend this book to mothers who intend to breastfeed even if they've never really considered bed sharing because like the book says a lot of mothers find themselves sleeping with their babies anyway whether intentionally or not. if not the book is great for outlining ways to make it safe incase you accidentally do and not make you feel like your a bad mum if it happens. My pregnant friends will be receiving a copy and I will be rereading before my next one is born.

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Just amazing
Friday, 26 September 2014  | 

I really love this book. It's the best baby book I've had my hands on. I wish, I'd had it when my child was newborn. The support, reassurance and advise is so amazing. Would have saved me so much time, as I found this information my self scattered from different sources. I simply can't recommend this book enough. Escpecially any pregnant mom considering to breast feed and/or co sleep.

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At last a book that doesn’t vilify bedsharing, breastfeeding mothers!!!
Wednesday, 24 September 2014  | 

Sweet Sleep is not a bible, nor is it a manual. Rather this wonderful, thoughtful, well researched and evidence based book gives information and strategies to make an informed choice on how you as a family can get as much sleep as possible with a breastfeeding baby.
What can I say about this book?
Succinctly – This book is about safely practising normal mummy baby sleeping behaviour and eroding the myths, fears and misconceptions of sleeping in the same bed with your child. In my opinion it is a brilliantly written and researched book that is a must for any prospective parent.
One of the first things Sweet Sleep reminds us is that breastfeeding is the biological norm. Therefore the sleeping behaviour of breastfed babies is the norm and it is formula fed sleeping behaviour which is out of kilter. From that point we are given an organised and easy to read collection of evidence based research material and references that also includes personal stories and experiences which we can all relate to.
The easy to read format includes boxes that have quick accessible information in bite size chunks that are relevant to the topics discussed on that page. Most chapters’ end with a bullet point round up of the information given and the topics discussed. Throughout the book the authors reference previous and forth coming chapters as well as other books, specifically The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
Sweet Sleep starts with “The Safe Sleep 7” a quick check list for safe bed sharing. From there it goes to a more in depth chapter on safe bed sharing and baby proofing. Then the science of sleep and what is and isn’t normal. Sweet Sleep also covers the different ages of the baby right through to toddlerhood, how sleep differs depending on age and what to expect. Sweet Sleep is set out so we as parents can ‘dip’ into it whenever we need without having to read the whole book in one go- Although I highly recommend reading it from cover to cover first as a lot of the information given in the first chapters does give you that light bulb moment of “of course that makes sense now”- There is also a chapter titled “Alternate Routes” which is for those with babies with more needs, such as babies who have difficulties latching, babies who need supplementation, premature babies and babies with other specialised needs. There is also information for parents of adopted babies who want to bedshare. Like every La Leche League book, Sweet sleep ends with ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ and a collection of ‘Tear Sheets’ which condense a lot of the information into succinct fact sheets which can be cut out and copied to be shared. Something which although small, goes a long way towards assuaging people’s fears and getting information out into the wider domain.
I, as a breastfeeding mother highly recommend this book, even if you do not feel you can share your bed as it gives the latest research and findings on baby sleep patterns and can help with the understanding of why babies seem to have no concept of day and night.
I would also recommend that every health care professional that deals with breastfeeding mothers read this book.

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Every Mother should purchase this book.
Monday, 22 September 2014  | 

As a midwife, Osteopath and Lactation consultant I am always impressed to read books that are affiliated by La Leche League. This is a no nonsense, evidence based practical book that provides reassurance to parents wanting to bed share in a safe and healthy environment. I would not hesitate to recommend this book. Easy to read any time of the day and night, you will not be disappointed. Staying attached and attuned to your baby is the underlying philosophy of a successful breastfeeding journey.

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