Research shows that ‘normal’ infant sleep is not what most experts claim it to be. In fact, many of today’s sleep ‘problems’ with young babies and children predominantly occur in the developed world. In Why Your Baby’s Sleep Matters, renowned gentle parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith demonstrates how nurturing babies at night helps their brain development, and covers the topics every parent of a new baby will need to know about, including naps, SIDS, night weaning, coping with your own exhaustion – and even dealing with advice and criticism from others.
I am full of admiration for Sarah Ockwell-Smith in her firm and thorough representation of attachment parenting, particularly around the difficult subject of infant sleep.
Her Why It Matters book tells us how infant sleep really works, with technical information in the early chapters, and then a good section on the historical context of social attitudes to sleep, advice, and “experts,” which really feels like the most important part of the book. Having read a great deal about the science of sleep, these sections give some interesting statistics, but didn’t really break any new ground for me. The chapter on the Science of SIDS however was particularly useful and gave me much to reflect on.
Ockwell-Smith writes with a tone of despair that sometimes comes close to contempt for the naivete of society and the many common misconceptions and misunderstandings about infant sleep, and while what she says is satisfyingly evidence-based, referenced and well-explained, I do think the tone could be kinder and more compassionate. The fact is that she pulls no punches, hence my admiration, but this might not be the first book on the subject that I would offer to a parent.
This book is a must read for any new or expectant parents. It is NOT like other parenting/sleep training books which give advice about how to Ôget your baby to sleep all night.Õ In fact it takes us through exactly why these sort of books are so detrimental. What it does do, is explain why babies NEED to wake at night, why it is so important to comfort them, why others put so much pressure on parents to have their babies in a sleep routine. Everything written is backed up by the science, biology and physiology of a baby but easy enough to read and not overloaded with scientific fact.<br />When reading it I was astounded by how much sense it made. Thankfully, third baby on and I am parenting by instinct and not doing what society suggests by putting baby to sleep alone or trying to force them into unnatural sleep patterns. I only wish I had read this when I had my first baby as I just did then what the ÔnormalÕ thing was to do at night and put my baby into a cot all alone (and is fact not normal baby parent behaviour at all.)<br />The only criticism I have of the book are the parts that suggest how parents can catch up on sleep. The suggestions only account for new parents who have only got the one child. They do not take account of those with other children (because napping during the day with the baby is just impossible.)<br />I also feel that the title of this book is deceiving, babies sleep does matterÉ.but what matters more is night-time parenting. And because the focus of the book is on altering our perceptions of babies sleeping and how we tend to switch off parenting in the dark hours, I really feel that ÔWhy Night-time Parenting MattersÕ would be a more appropriate title. (Which is why I named the title of my review as such) A large part of the focus of the book is on how babies sleep is absolutely not the problemÉ.it is just our perceptions that are the problem and our belief that babies should eat and sleep like adults even though they have not reached maturity as adults have. If all parents entered into parenthood realizing that they need to be parents round the clock and that it means their child is perfectly normal then everyone would be a lot happier. <br />This is the second book in the series that I have read and a big positive is the small size of the book (but still loaded with fantastic information) and easy to read and easy to pop into a small bag. Well worth a read!
A great little book! An easy read yet packed with up-to-date evidence on infant sleep patterns. It is not based on the author personal opinion but on human physiology and development. I found it very refreshing. Also covering important topics such as SIDS and cooping with parental exhaustion. Highly recommend for every parent or health professional.
'Is he a good sleeper, does he sleep through?'<br /><br />For many months I dreaded this question. Mainly because my son was not what most described as 'a good sleeper'. In fact, it seemed to many that his sleep was a problem and something that should be fixed through sleep training. With this came worry that I was doing something wrong or at least not doing something right. <br /><br />As a first time Mum, I had nothing to compare my son's sleep to but despite others' opinions, deep down I didn't agree it was a problem. He woke often, fell asleep whilst being breast fed and slept best next to me. I couldn't parent differently at night compared to the day; if he cried during the day, I'd comfort him and so naturally I would do the same at night. So I continued to follow his lead. Although it felt right to do so, I found it hard to explain my choices to others and I still had plenty of questions myself. <br /><br />And that is where this book has been empowering, informative and thus invaluable. Without being preachy, fluffy or condescending, it explains clearly and with supporting scientific evidence why and how babies sleep as well as addressing the balance of the needs of baby and parent. There is a good balance between the science, discussion and quotes from other parents and perhaps one of my favourite sections was how to deal with unwanted advice.<br /><br />I thoroughly recommend this book to any parent, grandparent, health visitor...anyone who would like to update their knowledge and expectations. I can now back up my intuitive choices with confidence.
I am so grateful to have found this book! I have to admit, with an 18 month old who still feeds 2 hourly day and night I may have skipped ahead to the chapter about night weaning but I am so glad I went back to read the rest, I really cannot recommend this book enough!<br />Whilst I was expecting I received quite a few books passed on from well meaning friends and family all about my much longed for impending arrival. After making it through the first couple of chapters they all got put back on the shelf, everything seemed so at odds with my natural maternal instinct, everything these books were telling me to do just felt so unnatural. Although parenting felt instinctive for me it was sometimes very hard to go against all these 'guidelines ' and the friends and family that so firmly believed in them. I knew I was doing the best for my baby but sometimes it felt like I had to convince others, and in the depths of the night with a baby that fed constantly and slept little, sometimes I needed to convince myself. This book has given me the confidence I needed to know I was and am making the best decisions for my baby, instead of telling me what I should be doing it gives you a brilliant and realistic view of what to expect, of what is biologically normal and gentle guidance of how to cope with the wonderful and most tiring time of your life. I shall gift this to every expecting friend I have because every parent should feel empowered to make the best decisions for their baby!
I found this book to be a clearly written, comprehensive overview of what is currently understood about infant sleep. It clearly and concisely covers the hows, whys and wheres of how babies are hardwired to sleep (in the daytime as well as at night) and offers practical tips as well as the theory behind them. <br /><br />This would be a great book to read during pregnancy, as having realistic expectations Ð as well as practical plans Ð on how to handle night time parenting could well smooth those first intense weeks and months as new parents. I also think it's a great one for getting other family members on board if the choices you make turn out to be different to the ones they made.<br /><br />The background history of infant sleep advice also gives a valuable insight that I think is helpful when sifting through information from different sources.