Before I get to the top six baby sleep books, I want to share something very important with you.
Finding a great baby sleep book can be a mine field. Just like you don't need a licence to become a parent, you don't need a licence to write a book either.
This can make it very confusing trying to find a truly good book, especially on a topic that is as contentious as baby sleep.
Because new parents don't get much time to relax, let alone read, it's important to seek out the truly valuable books.
You don't want to end up wasting time, reading information that wont help you, or is unrealistic.
For example, books on “how to get your baby to sleep through the entire night”.
Sorry to break the news to you, but based on biology and science, it's highly unlikely that sleeping through the night will happen from a young age.
Some parents do have babies that sleep for long periods overnight, but this is not the norm, and it will likely change at a certain age in line with developmental milestones or wonder weeks. It's important to know that studies have defined the average “sleeping through” period for an infant of just 5 hours.
One of the main problems with baby sleep books is that there are many authors who are not yet parents themselves (or weren't at the time of writing) and are without qualifications in an important area, like psychology, lactation, infant health or other related subjects.
Some of these authors blatantly stand against science, safety and health recommendations from an array of organisations across the world, including SIDS and Kids. Despite that, these authors tend to do pretty well for themselves, due to intensive marketing, lots of money, a good publishing house and a promise of lots more sleep. And don't we all want that? “Shut up and take my money already!”, right? But at what cost?
Many of these rebel authors advocate CIO (cry it out), controlled crying, or a variant of it. Here is what 6 of the world's leading baby sleep experts have to say on cry it out — so be sure to read that before you choose a baby training book.
You may not think qualifications are important to consider, but consider this: would you ask your rev-head brother to fix your car engine or would you ask a mechanic? Or, would you take your cat to the vet, or ask your cat-loving neighbour to diagnose the problem for you? No matter how much they love cats, it doesn't equal the right advice.
So, how about your baby?
Choosing a great book will pay off, both in the short and the long term. Especially where you and your baby's emotional and physical health are vulnerable. Not just now, but forever. The books you read can seriously alter your journey and experience.
Another major flaw of getting advice from authors who are inexperienced as parents is that they don't take into account and/or do not personally know the feelings that come with the incredibly emotional bond that forms between parent and baby. Feelings which make some of their programs and routines heartbreaking and distressing for parents, and they can flood your baby's brain with the stress hormone, cortisol. The fact that infant depression exists (some reports several years ago stating 1 in 40 infants are affected) is a very sad state of affairs.
So while a catchy, tempting baby sleep book title can have you sucked in, especially when you're sleep deprived and its waving a whole nights sleep in your face Remember this: sleeping through for a baby is only 5 hours on average — so it is not biologically normal to sleep ALL night — and these night time arousals have a survival function. It's believed to protect against SIDS.
On the positive side, there are some real gems in the baby sleep category. Here are my favourite 6 books on baby sleep, in no particular order. They all have fantastic advice and information, written by authors who have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Our members often use a combination of these books and use a mix of what works for them — which I think is the best way to go about it.
#1: Sleeping Like A Baby by Pinky McKay
Pinky McKay gets it. She is not only an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI) and a best-selling author “ but she is also a mother of five. So she's been there and survived! Pinky combines good science with wisdom, experience and mothers sharing their stories “ but most importantly, what is best for baby's health and wellbeing.
As many of our members have shared on the forums, Pinky has a great way of encouraging new mothers, helping them trust their instincts.
‘Sleeping Like a Baby' gives practical tips on how to:
- Understand your baby's tired cues
- Create a safe sleeping environment
- Gently settle babies and toddlers
- Feed infants to encourage sleep
A must read for stress-free, guilt-free parenting, offering down-to-earth and heartening advice on helping babies (and their parents!) to sleep better.
#2: Helping Your Baby To Sleep: Why Gentle Techniques Work Best by Beth Macgregor and Anni Gethin
Another fantastic Australian book by authors who walk their walk and talk their talk.
Anni Gethin is a health social scientist with special interests in early childhood development and health equity. She lectures in public health and social science, and is a mother of three boys.
Beth Macgregor is a psychologist who trains health and welfare workers in infant mental health, child development and child protection. She has worked as a child protection caseworker, specialist and researcher, and is an active member of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health. Her work as a specialist educator is devoted to creating happier children, families and societies. Beth is the mother of a delightful little boy.
Together, Anni and Beth have created this brilliant book.
- Learn why babies wake at night and need help to settle
- Understand how early parenting choices affect a baby's growing brain
- Examine why “sleep training” is risky, both in the short and long terms
- Discover how to create an effective sleep routine and safe sleeping environment
- Explore common baby sleep problems and how to cope with them
- Find out how tired moms and dads can build a support system (and stay sane)
#3: Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping by Dr. James McKenna
Dr. James McKenna is another phenomenal baby sleep author. He is a prominent researcher whose expertise includes: infant sleep, breast feeding, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), evolution of human behaviour (especially parenting and infant development) and more. He is a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep, Notre Dame University.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents never to let their baby sleep in an adult bed ”contrary to thousands of years of childrearing practices! A worldwide recognised co-sleeping authority wants parents to know that their babies are dramatically safer and healthier when put to bed in a safe, family sleeping environment. Walking readers through the important steps to creating a safe family bed, this book provides the latest information on the scientific benefits of co-sleeping.
#4: 100 Ways To Calm The Crying by Pinky McKay
Another book by Pinky McKay. In 100 Ways to Calm the Crying, each chapter deals with an aspect of crying and tips to calm your baby, including:
- little night howls
- tummy pains
- walking the floor
- soothing sounds
- baby massage
- from womb to room
- coping (and not coping)
#5: The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
While I have not fully read this book (as I chose to co-sleep and follow my children's lead with regards to sleep) this book is another of our members favourite books that is often discussed.
Parenting educator and mother of 4, Elizabeth Pantley's, ‘No Cry Sleep Solution', involves a 10 step process to help parents help their babies to sleep.
Tips from The No-Cry Sleep Solution:
- Uncover the stumbling blocks that prevent baby from sleeping through the night
- Determine and work with baby's biological sleep rhythms
- Create a customised, step-by-step plan to get baby to sleep through the night
- Use the Persistent Gentle Removal System to teach baby to fall asleep without breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, or using a pacifier
“I think the best thing about Pantley is that there is no guilt if you do choose to do things in your own time”. — Tuesday's Child
“I've found it gave me the ability to find a routine they were naturally trying to fall into”. — Kamarine
#6: Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Baby by Deborah Jackson
Only since Victorian times has it been standard practice for mothers and fathers to send their babies to sleep alone, away from the parental bed “ often in another room. This book reveals how babies who sleep with their parents benefit by getting virtually a full night's sleep. The author explains the advantages of this radical form of baby care, including its benefits for breastfeeding mothers, reviews the history of babies in the bed and, through interviews with parents, explores attitudes to the idea. The book also contains a fresh perspective on the tragedy of cot death, as well as practical advice on how to sustain your sex life, hints on safety in the bed, answers to all the common objections and dealing with the moment when the baby leaves its parents' bed.