I’m a fairly experienced mom.
I’m not trying to brag, really, but I do have 9 children…
I can understand why many people assume I’ve got it all figured out, mainly because I’ve had more opportunities than most to figure many things out. My children are fairly well-behaved and generally eat their vegetables, but when it comes to raising children, there are two things that I’ve struggled with each and every time.
Potty training and getting a baby to sleep through the night…
With our youngest just hitting the 4 month mark, and the 4 months of interrupted-every-two-hours sleep I’ve been getting (thanks to my exclusive breastfeeding) taking its toll, I was eager to read The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, by Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Baby On the Block and The Happiest Toddler On the Block.
Finally, kids do come with instructions!
Surprisingly simple steps to boost your little child’s sleep fast!
Learn more at The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep site.
Yes, I’m an experienced mom, but, no, I don’t have it all figured out. I’m always looking for good advice, just like the rest of you.
Let me say right away that I liked the book. It’s loaded with great advice, but these are babies we’re talking about. They’re all different, and they all take a great deal of work to raise. I guess what I mean is that there just aren’t any magic answers, no silver bullets, no quick fixes. There are, however, quite a few things we can do as parents to help lead our children along the path to success, even when it comes to sleep.
I like that this book covers sleep issues “from birth to 5 years”, especially since after reading the first 5 chapters (covering newborn sleep, from birth to three months) I pretty much felt like I’d been doing it all wrong all along. (Remember, my youngest is already 4 months old.)
I’ve only been using 2 of Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s.
Swaddling- I’ve tried swaddling. Maybe not as hard as I could have, but I’ve tried. My large (and strong!) babies have all fought their way out of their blankets by the 2nd or 3rd week, and have all fought repeated efforts to continue swaddling. I love the idea of swaddling, but it hasn’t worked for me, and, well, my baby already past the prime swaddling-appropriate age.
Sucking- My first 2 babies took a paci, but every single one of the next 7 babies have gagged and acted like I was trying to choke them with each attempt to get them to take a paci. And yes, I’ve tried every brand and style on the shelf. They hate them, and they haven’t been horrible criers, so after a few weeks and many attempts, I quit trying. We’re a no-paci family, and it works for us.
Shushing- I hate white noise. Hate it. It’s a sensory thing, and I clearly have issues (and sympathetic understanding for my couple SPD kids), but white noise drives me bonkers. Unless it’s the waves splashing up against the rocks outside the door at one of my favorite places to stay along the north shore of Lake Superior. I can relax and sleep to some quiet calming music, but Dr. Karp recommends against music and advocates for white noise like showers. Most white noise machines or CD’s I’ve heard sound sort of like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. They make my skin crawl and drive me absolutely batty.
But I’m going to give this one another chance. I’ve installed a white noise app on my Kindle Fire, and I’m trying out a couple sounds that include water noises. Some of them aren’t so bad, I may be able to work this one in. I know it’s really about what sound helps baby sleep better, but let’s all be honest here, if I can’t sleep with it, it isn’t going to help anyone.
Side/Stomach position- This one we use occasionally, when baby is fussy, especially in the evenings the first few weeks, the crazy fussy time. I’ve used the “football hold” ever since Ian, my oldest, was small enough to fit completely on my forearm. Excuse me, while I pause for a moment of sweet nostalgia (he’s now 6′ 3” and about 145 lbs). While Daniel sometimes appreciates the stomach laying hold, he most often prefers to be very upright. He does settle into a calm sleep while cuddled in a snug side position in my arms, but only if he gets into position at just the right time, which takes watching for sleep cues (one of the most important aspects of learning to help little ones sleep, in my opinion). I can usually snuggle him into sleeping and then lay him down for a nap without too much trouble.
Swinging- I learned to love the swing for sleep with my second son, Jaron. He could not sleep without movement for the first many weeks. That swing saved my sanity (and my arms) back then, and it has come in handy with several other motion-loving infants since then, including the latest edition, Baby 9.0
With THE HAPPIEST BABY GUIDE TO GREAT SLEEP, no longer will new parent have to suffer months of sleep deprivation and no longer will babies have to cry themselves to sleep. Backed by compelling science, common sense and decades of experience, Dr. Karp’s landmark guide will revolutionize how millions of children drift off to dreamland.
I’ve been camped out in Part 2, chapters 6-9, Sidestepping Infant Sleep Problems: Three to Twelve Months. It’s where we’re at with Baby Daniel, having just turned 4 months old.
He currently wakes consistently every 2 hours. Every. Single. Night.
There was that one night, when he was 6 weeks old, when he slept a blessed 5 1/2 hour stretch. I knew better, and yet I let myself hope that it was the beginning of a trend, that he would be my first baby to sleep through the night by 8 weeks like so many of my friends’ babies.
That obviously didn’t happen.
Every 2 hours is hard.
11:30, 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30 some nights. 10:15, 12:15, 2:15, 4:15, 6:15 other nights.
For four months.
“This too shall pass” becomes my mantra every time I have a baby nursing all night long. I’d love it if it would pass sooner than 6 or 8 or 10 months…
And so, I’m going to be making a concerted effort to work on “sleep training” with this little guy over the next several weeks. I’ll be keeping a log of what I’m trying, what I think is working, and what I think isn’t working.
This should be fun
I’ve never had any real problems with naps or bedtime with toddlers and/or preschoolers, but I did enjoy the tips and ideas Dr. Karp walks parents through in Part 3, Sleep Solutions in the Toddler and Preschool Years: One to Five Years. If Daniel decides to give us more challenges than our previous children, I’ll be prepared.
All in all, would I recommend this book? Yes, and I would especially recommend reading it while pregnant, so you can start off working with baby’s calming reflex right from the get-go. If you’re starting later (when baby is 3 months or older), there is still a lot of great advice to be found in this book, just don’t expect it to be a quick fix. Sleep training, like any kind of training, will take time, practice, patience, endurance, and consistency. In other words, work.
You know, like the rest of motherhood!
***Disclosure- I am participating in a book review campaign with One2One Network. I received this book from Harper Collins for the purposes of reviewing it. I have not received any other compensation. My participation in the campaign enters me into a drawing for a gift card. All opinions stated are completely and totally my own.
Also, this post contains Amazon affiliate links…