Mom Stuff · Reading Rainbow

I Read All the Baby Sleep Books So You Don’t Have To

OK.  Seriously.  I read all the big baby sleep books.  I don’t mean to sound all teacher’s pet academic achiever twerpy person, it’s just that reading is one of my favorite ways to relax anyway, so it was never really a chore.  And because I was EFFING DESPERATE and assumed if I just kept reading, an easy and magical solution would find its way to me.  (It didn’t, but as a sequel I will share what we finally did to get our little nocturnal frog sleeping).  (Sequel)

I Read All the Baby Sleep Books So You Don't Have To | Bend it Like Becker

But before I read anything, I scoured the web for some kind of comparison like this, so I could target something that best fit our problems/philosophies and not waste time reading something that wasn’t up my alley.  I did find summaries, but really wanted more of a quick side-by-side comparison, so my hope is that this will maybe be a helpful guide if you want to just pick one book to invest your time in.

One last thing to add is that I was remiss in not starting this learning process earlier.  Before and when I was pregnant, I read and soaked in everything I could about healthy pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, baby nutrition, positive discipline… lots of crap.  I don’t know why I took sleep for granted, thinking it would just kind of work itself out naturally without a lot of thought/input from me.  WOMEN, PLEASE LEARN FROM THIS MISTAKE: if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should not take Spiriva I really would encourage you to consider learning about baby sleep.  What all of these books have in common is that they will explain why  good sleep is critically important to your baby, and walk you through what your schedule should look like based on your baby’s age.  Very good stuff to know before you’re in the throes of it.

OK, getting on with it.  Emphasis mine in case you want the express version.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child

This book:

  • Is a moderate-length primer on baby sleep, with clear age-by-age guides from newborn through big kid.
  • Is very pro-CIO.  Dr. Weissbluth believes in cold turkey CIO (extinction method) so there is not a lot of clear, structured guidance as to a CIO plan.  You just close the door and that’s it.  If you are looking for more structure and more of a gradual approach, read Dr. Ferber’s book or The Sleep Easy Solution (continued below).  
  • Is a good choice if you want reassurance about CIO.  Dr. Weissbluth knows his crap, has treated zillions of babies, and does a terrific job dispelling the myths about CIO and reassuring you it won’t damage your baby’s psyche.  If you’re terrified of CIO but know you’ve gotta go there, this may be a good thing for you to look at.

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (AKA Dr. Ferber’s book)

solve your childs sleep problems

This book:

  • Is a lengthy look at baby sleep, although it’s in chapters so it’s pretty easy to hunt through and pick out the ones you want.  Still, it’s much more thorough and clinical, so it requires more time and attention to work through the writing.  If you want something you can read fast, try instead The Sleep Easy Solution (below), which is basically the same material in a faster read.
  • Is also pro-CIO.  But this book will walk you through a plan that involves periodically checking in and comforting baby.  You’re probably familiar with this.  As the nights go on, you gradually give the baby longer stretches before you comfort.
  • IS NOT EVIL.  It’s not.  I really want to say that first.  I seriously thought I would crack this book open and it would say LET YOUR BABY SOB TILL THE WEAKNESS NO LONGER CONSUMES HIM, THE END.  It doesn’t.  He has a heart, he doesn’t delights in crying babies, he’s the real deal.  Yea, the bloggers can talk lovies and white noise machines, but Dr. Ferber is the guy you go to when your kid has narcolepsy, cataplexy, or is actually biologically unable to achieve sleep.  (Yea.  Ponder that.  Yikes.)  Nobody knows baby sleep like this dude.

The Sleep Easy Solution

the sleep easy solution


This book:

  • Is not really new material.  It’s basically Ferber.  I actually hadn’t heard of this, but it was recommended by the lactation consultant who runs the breastfeeding group I used to go to.
  • Is good to read if you’re already having problems.  It’s written for older babies and toddlers who are crappy sleepers.  If you are looking for something to read on a preventative/educational basis, read Healthy Sleep Habits.
  • Is a brief primer on baby sleep and a quick read.  The authors start with an introductory chapter explaining how baby sleep works, why it’s important, what healthy patterns look like– but they hilariously preface the whole thing by saying to skip that part and just go to the “solution” part if you’re too tired and fed up to care about the science of it.  Ha.  Even reading the sciencey part, it’s still a quick read.
  • Is written by moms, not doctors.  I think both groups bring important perspectives to the table, but this is a good pick if you want a conversational, relatable perspective.  The women are the sleep consultants behind Sleepy Planet.
  • Is pro-CIO, but with a heart.  Ferber/Weissbluth will tell you from the medical perspective why you don’t have to fear the crying, but these women are mothers who feel your pain and know how horrible and sucky it seems.  You will honestly read this and feel like you have these kind, benevolent souls holding your hand through all of this.  Reading this really put me at ease.
  • This is actually probably my #1 pick if you’re OK with CIO.  Quick read and tells you exactly what to do, so it really builds your confidence in the process.

The No Cry Sleep Solution

the no cry sleep solutin

This book:

  • Is pretty much the only show in town if you don’t want to let your baby cry. If you are dead-set on avoiding CIO, definitely start here.  Covers gentle solutions for both young babies and older babies/toddlers.
  • Is a brief-to-medium-length look at baby sleep.  More thorough than Sleep Easy Solution but less than Healthy Sleep Habits.
  • Is written by Elizabeth Pantley, a mom who has sort of become the voice of Team Anti-CIO (hashtag).  Interestingly, she did do her own unofficial experimentation on the techniques she teaches in this book, through a group of “Test Mommies” who she follows and quotes throughout the book.  So, it is a little anecdotal-evidencey, but I enjoyed hearing from other moms in the trenches.
  • Is not a strict “plan” kind of solution.  She gives you a collection of separate techniques to try on your own time schedule.
  • Like the previous, this is a “solution” for babies/toddlers who suck at sleeping, so same guidance to read Health Sleep Habits if you just want to learn about sleep in general.

A note about the internet.  Yea.  After becoming a self-proclaimed-lay-wannabe-expert in baby sleep, I will say that there is a lot of quackery on the internet.  (Breaking news, I know).  There’s so much crap out there that’s pure click fodder (10 ways to make your 6 week old sleep through the night! 10 things you are doing wrong if your 6 week old isn’t sleeping through the night!) and some of it is just really bad, really sloppy, and really not coming from an educated place.  The only place (in this person’s opinion) that does a terrific job in really analyzing everything and giving some awesome guidance is  (Thanks to my friend Meghann who tipped me off to this!).

What else? I think the only other mainstream book out there is Tracy Hogg’s The Baby Whisperer, which I did not read.  Babywise? I heard too many scary things and didn’t consider it, but until we sleep trained I also had an eight month old who slept like a newborn so… yea.  If you have insight on these (or others I’m overlooking) then please chime in!



8 thoughts on “I Read All the Baby Sleep Books So You Don’t Have To

  1. Hey! Non-royal farm animal here. I have the Happiest Baby on the Block sitting on my coffee table, and have for about 2 weeks. Once I start actually reading it I can maybe report back. I think it talks about sleep? Maybe just fussiness. Although I watched the DVD and that man is the Baby Whisperer. Then again there’s another book called Baby Whisperer and I am borrowing that one soon from someone. Again, once I find time to read them we will be golden. I think I have a friend with the non-CIO one you referenced, so I’m going to borrow that and add it to my coffee table pile, because I cannot handle CIO. I don’t even like when she fusses while I’m in the shower. I’m a pushover and she will probably get that brand new Ferrari she wants when she’s 16 because I have no spine with her. This is going to go really well.

  2. Heeyy! Farm animals unite!

    I too didn’t actually read the book, just watched the DVD!!! I think it does talk about sleep though, although I think it’s more for the tiny babies : / It was a sad day when I couldn’t just turn the hair dryer on anymore to knock the baby out. He was like HAHA THATS FUNNY sorry you have to try harder now.

    Definitely let me know about the Baby Whisperer book!!! Was the only one I never got to.

    HA…. I know, the crying is terrible. I hope you have a champ sleeper baby and never have to let CIO tempt you!!! ; )

  3. Team Babywise over here, it actually was fairly easy (only bc Luke put himself on the schedule way before I even tried). I tried a whole buncha stuff, CIO, non-CIO, and then finally one day homeboy just slept. and then he stopped. and then he got teeth. and then he slept again. and then f-ing teeth again. and then slept….its a vicious cycle…we just do the same thing literally every night (dinner, bath, pjs, book, bottle, bed, ocean machine turned up to the high heavens) and it seems to work…GOOD LUCK!!

    1. Ahh I totally agree about the vicious cycle… it’s the inconsistency that really does you in don’t you think?? It’s like psychological warfare!

  4. Same boat over here. Listened to podcasts on pregnancy, went to prenatal yoga, prepped for birth and breastfeeding and how to bond with and play with baby… but nothing on sleep. I did read and watch the Happiest Baby on the Block, but I think using all of his soothing techniques at the beginning with a baby who didn’t have colic may be part of the problem because we created so many sleep crutches.

    At our two month check up we asked our doctor for help, and she suggested CIO for 20-30 minutes, and if that doesn’t work to go back to whatever we need to do to get him to sleep (because he was still so young). Tried it for 4 nights – it wasn’t working at all and I felt terrible. At first I thought I’d try it again when he’s older, but now I’m not so sure (baby is almost four months old).

    Since then I dove into the books, reading Healthy Sleep Habits and The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Healthy Sleep Habits was educational, but I still didn’t want to CIO. Pantley was helpful, but bothered me because it’s not evidence-based. She also talks so much about patience that I wonder if what I’m doing is helping or just distracting me while baby gets older and naturally starts to sleep better. I started the Ferber book but didn’t finish because I didn’t like the perspective of that there was always a problem. I want baby to sleep through the night, but I didn’t think that him not sleeping through the night at three months was a “problem.” I’m hoping more for a wellness plan instead of looking at not sleeping as pathology. I also listened to some podcasts on sleep from Parent Savers and The Boob Group.

    Now I’m in the midst of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight book by Kim West, and we are putting up blackout curtains this week. I want to read The Science of Mother-Infant Sleep by Wendy Middlemiss and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.

    I can’t wait to hear what finally worked for you!

    1. I agree with you so much! I didn’t want to get too much into the weeds, but I agree that Ferber is really conservative in his perception of ‘problems’ and I do side eye the stuff that says really young babies should easily sleep through the night. Maybe for like olympic champion sleeper babies. Not the rest of us though, haha!! We gave in to some crying but only because my guy was almost 9 months and just getting worse, and by that age I thought he was definitely old enough to learn : )

      I am already on goodreads checking out those other things you mentioned! Definitely let me know if you stumble on anything good! Isis Parenting has a lot of podcast/powerpoint archives stuff too that I just have never gotten around to. We’re alllmooost making it through the night now, so I’m furiously knocking on wood that it will continue to get better and I can stop worrying about this soon : )

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