When I hear the word ‘baby sleep experts’ being used in relation to babies, I cringe.
Because I think babies are the experts in what they need, and parents are the experts of their own unique baby.
No one could possibly write a book about YOUR baby.
The Wonder Weeks book is one of very few books that comes pretty close.
Parents can learn about predictable developmental ‘leaps’ at certain weeks of age, which results in specific behavioural changes.
However, every baby has a unique personality.
It’s common these days for parents to lack of confidence and self-esteem when it comes to parenting their babies and children.
Many parents have wounds from how we were parented, which clouds the waters.
Sometimes we feel like we just don’t know what to do at times.
We may desperately seek out information, techniques and routines — anything to help ‘fix’ our baby’s sleeping and/or crying situation.
With medical reasons ruled out, it’s likely that our babies are normal.
Parents often don’t have good support, a nurturing community or the confidence to trust their instincts.
Baby Sleep Training Methods Come From Old Thinking
In a previous article on baby sleep, I discussed how controlled crying and other cry it out methods actually originated from 1913 and earlier.
These methods are from a very old way of thinking, way back when we had no idea that leaving babies to cry themselves to sleep, flooded their little brains with the stress hormone, cortisol.
Not only that, the cortisol levels remained high, even after they’d stopped this prolonged crying.
All during a time when a baby’s brain is paving some critical brain pathways for life.
They may be little, but their brains develop at a super impressive rate in the first few years.
No human being likes to cry themselves to sleep, especially when there is a real fear of being abandoned.
Babies don’t understand that you’re teaching them to sleep.
They genuinely fear no-one is coming to get them, because they can’t understand the concept of being separated from their mother.
It takes as long as four to six months after the birth before babies begin to realise that they are a separate individual (from their mother) altogether.
Rest assured, the following absolutely amazing experts are committed to keeping abreast with ongoing, recent research, based on good science that’s evidence based.
Something important to bear in mind is some other ‘experts’ or baby sleep trainers/tamers/whisperers will say crying it out ‘works’.
Sadly, what has really happened is baby has given up asking for help and fell asleep.
That’s what they are selling. There’s no secret or magic about it.
What Happens After Childbirth Can Have Life Long Effects
You may have heard about Romanian orphanages full of babies, yet the orphanages were silent.
Those babies were quiet because they quickly learned to give up asking for help, not because they had great sleep training.
There was not enough love to go around and they weren’t picked up often. Sadly, it affected those babies for life.
Do you know an adult like that? Someone who believes that there’s no point in asking for help, because no one will help anyway?
Do you know someone with narcissistic or codependent tendencies? Perhaps intimately?
You may also know of adults who are stuck dealing with abandonment issues, depression and anxiety.
All of these conditions can be influenced by our upbringing – the ages of 0-7 are especially vulnerable to the messages and care parents give to them.
These individuals may spend the rest of their lives working out why things keep going wrong and why they feel ‘broken’ and can’t find true happiness.
Imagine what all of these things would do to a person’s social life, career and relationships.
Baby sleep trainers don’t tell you about these things, because they aren’t interested in the research nor what infant mental health organisations are telling us — because sleep deprived parents (aren’t we all) keep paying them good money.
They also aren’t educated enough to understand psychological impacts on newborns. It’s not something you can learn from observing.
Creating secure attachments offers major payoffs for the long term — right through to your grandkids and beyond. It can truly change a generation.
6 Awesome, Educated Baby Sleep Experts
Here are 6 fabulous baby sleep experts and researchers that you should add to your bookmarks list.
Read their books and articles, and learn from them first and foremost.
The people listed below are well researched in their field, in an area relevant to a baby’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
They’re not just nannies or baby whisperers with a magic touch.
More importantly, they’re trained professionals, and understand the physiological responses that occur in a crying baby.
They also understand the real anxiety and stress parents go through, trying to cope with it all.
Also, don’t forget to check out our list of recommended baby sleep books, which includes lots of great books from these experts, and more.
Baby Sleep Experts #1: Professor James McKenna
Professor James McKenna is the world’s leading pioneer in infant-mother sleeping.
Professor McKenna began his research in the 1970s. At the University of California, in the Irvine School of Medicine, his research team pioneered the first studies of the physiology and behaviour of mothers and infant sleeping, together and apart, using physiological and behavioural recording devices.
Professor McKenna has published over 139 refereed scientific articles in diverse medical and anthropological journals on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, evolutionary medicine and SIDS.
Each year, he gives over 20 lectures globally, especially to paediatric groups and parents.
In the United States, Professor McKenna remains one of the primary spokespeople to the media about sleeping arrangements, nighttime breast feeding and SIDS prevention.
Visit the Website: https://cosleeping.nd.edu
Baby Sleep Experts #2: Pinky McKay
Pinky McKay is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and best-selling author.
Her books are all endorsed by The Australian Breastfeeding Association, La Leche League International and The Australian Association of Infant Mental Health.
Pinky also has plenty of real-life experience as a mother of five, and grandmother to three little people.
Pinky’s fantastic books include:
Baby Sleep Experts #3: Dr. Bill Sears & Martha Sears
Dr Bill Sears is the father of eight children as well as the author of over 30 books on childcare.
Doctor Sears is an Associate Clinical Professor of Paediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.
He received his paediatric training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto – the largest children’s hospital in the world.
Doctor Sears served as Associate Ward Chief of the newborn nursery and Associate Professor of Pediatrics.
He’s also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and a fellow of the Royal College of Paediatricians (RCP).
Dr Sears’ wife Martha is a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant.
Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest. She draws on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter).
You can find a host of books from the Sears family here.
Baby Sleep Experts #4: Dr. Howard Chilton
Dr Howard Chilton has been a neonatologist (a baby’s physician) for over 30 years.
He most enjoys spending time on his central passion: parent education and what he terms ‘reassurology’.
Doctor Chilton believes by helping parents understand their baby’s needs, it can lead to an enhancement of parental attachment.
Doing so supports the optimisation of babies’ emotional development.
Doctor Chilton holds a talk and Q&A session at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney every Thursday at 10.15 to 11.30am. All are welcome – simply head to the 3rd floor main room, between the two postnatal wards.
He also works clinically at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital, Royal Hospital for Women and Sydney Children’s Hospital.
See Dr. Chilton’s book Baby On Board.
Baby Sleep Experts #5: Tracy Cassels PhD
Tracy Cassels has a B.A. in Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology. She also earned a PhD in Developmental Psychology.
For her PhD, she studied how certain evolutionary factors affect children’s empathic behaviour, and how our assessment of theory of mind influences our understanding of these processes.
She also completed a minor in quantitative measurement (i.e., statistical methods for research). Doing so gave her a greater understanding of how to interpret the research.
Tracy currently runs Evolutionary Parenting and works as a consultant to parents.
She helps them gently navigate parenting struggles, typically sleep-related, with a focus on gentle parenting based on what’s biologically normal.
She also serves as an adviser to the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership, and previously worked at the Canadian Council on Learning, a non-profit agency dedicated to researching myriad elements of learning across the lifespan.
Tracy has collaborated with a group of researchers and gentle parenting advocates (including Dr. Darcia Narvaez, Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Dr. Wendy Middlemiss, Sarah Ockwell-Smith, and Helen Stevens) with the aim to expand awareness of the science and importance of evolutionary parenting.
Baby Sleep Experts #6: Dr Helen Ball
Dr Helen Ball is a professor of anthropology at Durham University in the UK.
In the year 2000, Helen began researching night-time infant care in a specially designed sleep lab.
Her research examines sleep ecology, particularly of infants, young children and their parents.
- Attitudes and practices regarding infant sleep
- Behavioural and physiological monitoring of infants and their parents during sleep
- Infant sleep development
- The discordance between cultural sleep preferences and biological sleep needs.
Dr. Ball has conducted research in hospitals and the community.
She also contributes to national and international policy and practice guidelines on infant care.
Her research interests include:
- Behaviour and physiology of infant sleep
- Child sleep and obesity
- Development of sleep patterns and circadian rhythms
- Evolutionary medicine
- Human behaviour: parenting, infant care, infant mortality, SIDS, infanticide
- Midwifery and postnatal care
- Infant feeding and sleeping