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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

Have you heard of this book? It literally saved my sanity!!

This book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, was recommended to me by another mama, and I'm soooooo glad I took the time to read it! I know I can't be the only mom who struggles to get her children to sleep and I thought some of you other mamas might like some help!

Andyroo was NOT a good sleeper. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Even in the hospital, he didn't want to sleep in the little bed/box they had him in. If one of us was holding him, he would sleep great. Unfortunately that carried over at home too. He would only stay asleep if he was sleeping ON us. I would lay him on my chest and he would stay asleep for a couple hours at a time. But *I* wasn't sleeping well. I was already dealing with all of the new mom stuff (hormones, emotions, trying to nurse, etc) and had to deal with EXTREME lack of sleep. I know I shouldn't have given in to letting him sleep on us, but I was so tired and frazzled and I just wanted to sleep. As long as I could lay in bed and pretend to sleep, I didn't really care where he slept. I couldn't deal with putting him in his crib or bassinet and having him wake up every 20 minutes. I tried it. For about an hour. It was too much to handle.

Finally after about 2 months (I think - again, extreme fogginess), I discovered that if I left him in his car seat, he would stay asleep! Hallelujah! I knew that letting him sleep in his car seat wasn't the best idea, but he was sleeping! For more than 20 minutes at a time. Without being held! I didn't really care. I just wanted to sleep!!! To save my sanity (and my child), I let the car seat sleeping continue. When he fell asleep, I would go put him in his car seat that was on the floor next to our bed. When he wanted to nurse, I'd wake up and nurse him and then put him back in the car seat. But then I even started getting lazy about putting him back in the car seat. Instead I'd just lay him next to me and we'd both fall asleep while he nursed. I really don't mind co-sleeping. But it didn't help Andyroo learn to sleep on his own. This was my life until Andyroo was about 10 months old. 10 months, people!

About that time, a friend told me about Marc Weissbluth's book - Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. She told me that she's used the methods in there for each of her children and that they were such good sleepers now. I found the book at the library (along with a few others) and go to reading. Let me tell you - this book made the most sense and made me feel the most comfortable. I wasn't comfortable with just letting him cry it out without going in. His approach is a little more gentle and, while still hard on the mommy emotions, was doable for me.

I made sure that Hubs was around for the first couple nights. His work schedule varies between day and  evening shifts and I did NOT want to be doing this alone. So we finally put Dr. Weissbluth's methods to the test. The first night was hard. The first time Andyroo finally fell asleep, he was sitting up in the corner of his crib closest to the door, gripping the bars of his crib. But he fell asleep!!! Luckily it took Andyroo less than a week (maybe around 4 days??) to get the hang of it. I think by about day 3 he was only crying for about 5 or 10 minutes. By the end of the week, he wasn't crying anymore! Success!!!

He was finally sleeping in his crib, waking only once for night-time nursing (I know by that point he didn't need them anymore, but I didn't want to change everything so quickly). Do you realize how wonderful uninterrupted sleep is?

If you have a horrible sleeper, you NEED to read this book. Even if you decide that his methods aren't for you, he has a LOT of really good information about sleep habits and cycles that every mom needs to know. Most moms just think that their babies will know when they're tired and just fall asleep on their own. That may be true in some cases (especially younger babies), but a lot of babies actually need to be taught to go to sleep. That's right, on top of everything else we have to teach them, we also have to teach them how to go to sleep. Dr. Weissbluth also writes about sleep cycles and how daytime sleep is different from nighttime sleep, explains how being overtired actually prevents good sleep (and how it's important to put your child to bed before they get to that point), why a sleep schedule is important, and how getting enough sleep will make your child happier and healthier. This book is also for all children - not just babies or toddlers. He also talks about how to deal with things like bed wetting and nightmares.

I cannot stress enough how having a child who gets enough sleep definitely changes their temperament and makes them happier. Andyroo was NOT a happy baby before he we started this at 10 months. He was a cranky, crabby mess that spent most of the day crying. And I was too! But once he started getting enough sleep, his temperament completely changed. He was happy and smiling and so was I! It's amazing what good sleep habits will do (for children and adults)!! Implementing the things in this book changed (and saved) our lives.

Have you read through this book? Do you have any helpful tips for parents who might be struggling to get their child to sleep? I'd love to hear what you have to say!!

(This is not a paid review. All of the opinions in this book are my own. My life was changed by this book and I thought there might be other mommas struggling too that could be helped by this book)


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