Infant Sleep: The Experts Compared

In my two previous posts, I reviewed three popular books on infant sleep habits. My preferred author for general parenting philosophy is William Sears, as explained in the last post (Infant Sleep and the Experts, Part II). However, all three experts have merit, and different approaches are better suited to different families. Below, for the sake of comparison, I have identified a few of the issues common to the three books and briefly described each author’s position.

 

Marc Weissbluth

Tracy Hogg

William Sears

Co-sleeping (or the family bed)

Acceptable, but may be impractical for some parents, and children may have difficulty transitioning to their own bed. pp. 51-52

Discouraged, but fine if it already works for everyone in the family. pp.169-71

Recommended, but not required. See ch 5: “The Joys of Sleeping with Your Baby”

Nurse to Sleep

Fine. Does not interfere with sleeping through the night. p. 152

Discouraged (delays development of self-soothing strategies).
p. 173

Fine, but parents may want to develop other sleep-time strategies.
pp. 16-17

Rock to Sleep

Fine. p.125

Same as above

Fine. p. 19

Pacifiers

Acceptable, but parents shouldn’t replace repeatedly when infant is falling asleep in her own bed. p. 144

Limited use acceptable; thumb preferred.
pp. 126-67, 179

Fine, but thumb sucking could be preferable (The Baby Book, Little, Brown and Company, 2003. p. 90-92)

Routine

Advised. Recommends day and night-time sleep schedules, but also advises parents to keep a sleep log to determine individual child’s prime sleeping patterns.
pp. 112-14

Advised; book centered around a flexible daily structure author calls E.A.S.Y. (Eating, Activity, Sleep, Your time)

Advised, but no particular program prescribed. Also recommends keeping sleep log for a week to identify each child’s preferred sleep patterns.

Acknowledges developmental stage differences

Yes.

To a limited degree

Yes. pp. 60-63 “How Babies Sleep at Various Stages”

Acknowledges temperament differences

To some degree.

Yes. Begins by helping parents identify their baby as “Textbook,” “Angel,” Touchy,” “Spirited,” or “Grouchy”
(pp. 29-32). Emphasizes throughout the importance of knowing your baby.

Yes. pp. 73-76, includes a section on “Matching Yourself, Your Baby, and Your Sleep Plan”

Attachment parenting

Identifies misguided conclusions from research, asserts that ignoring “protest crying” at bedtime does not interfere with attachment. pp. 154-55

Not mentioned specifically

Basis for his philosophy (See Infant Sleep and the Experts, Part II for definition)

Cry it out

Not recommended under four months of age. Acceptable for one hour at nap times and unlimited amount of time at bed time. Responding to every cry interferes with proper sleep and development. pp. 154-160

Don’t leave baby to cry alone. Waiting ‘til baby is overtired or breaking bad sleep habits may require staying and patting baby’s back while he cries. But recommends putting baby down before fully asleep.
pp. 178-183, 255-256

Strongly opposed. ch 10. Offers alternatives for helping baby sleep longer and nurse less at night.
pp. 149-155

Independence

Learning to fall asleep alone is an important skill; it will only become harder to learn as children get older. p. 159

Should be developed from birth.
p. 173

Should be developed gradually. Babies need to be dependent (pp. 14-15, 19-20). Children with strong parental bond develop age-appropriate independence faster. (The New Baby Planner. Thomas Nelson, 1994)

References

Substantial list at the end of each chapter, but not connected to specific items in text.

No

List of 43 sources in Appendix C.

*Source

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, revised ed. New York: Fawcett Books (The Ballantine Publishing Group), 1999.

(with Melinda Blau). Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.

(and Martha Sears). The Baby Sleep Book. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. (except as noted)

 

*After completing my review of these three books, I ran across The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, by Elizabeth Pantley. I have not read it, but it received high reviews on Amazon (608 at last count!). The book appears to be co-authored by William Sears, although Pantley is credited in most of the editorial copy about the book. Given my regard for most of Sears’ methods, this seemed like a good book to at least bring to parents’ attention, if I can’t yet recommend it.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Infant Sleep: The Experts Compared

  1. shonali

    Thanks for this wonderful resource. I have been quite confused about sleep issues with my 4 month old and it helped to read a comprehensive overview like yours.
    Like you I cannot get myself to follow the “cry it out” method. My baby has become used to sleeping in the swing and transitioning him to his bed had become a challenge. Reading all these points of view was a great help. Thank you!

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