Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth is easily one of the top five best gifts I’ve ever received. Well, it was technically a gift to my son, but he can’t sit up yet let alone read so we’ll call it a gift to me. As we hear so often that it’s become cliché, babies do not come with instruction manuals. Hospitals could change that by giving out copies of this book to new parents. It’s that helpful!
Before I get to the good stuff, let me get a few things out of the way. First, sleep training is one of those subjects that get parents all fired up. To each their own, but if this is one of your hot button issues you may want to stop reading now. There will be crying. Second, this book is LONG. Like, it took me two months to read it long. And it’s repetitive. Looking back, that’s probably a good thing because the target audience is sleep-deprived and may need to read something more than once for it to sink in. I gave it five stars on Goodreads for the information, not because it’s an enjoyable read.
When I started reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Aidan was three months old. At the time, I thought he was a pretty good sleeper. He would go to bed around 8:00 p.m., wake up a few times during the night, and then be up for the day between 5:00-6:00 a.m. He didn’t nap much during the day and around 4:00 p.m. he would go insane. Normal witching hour stuff or so I thought. Turns out the poor guy was sleep deprived.
I had no idea babies should only be awake for “brief intervals.” Seriously, someone should make a public service announcement about this because not all parents are going to read a 602-page book. I also had no idea that babies need an early bedtime. As in 6:00-6:30 p.m. Implementing these two changes has made a huge difference in the quality of Aidan’s sleep as well as his mood. It’s also made a difference in my mood! I love my little one, but I need breaks and now I have them.
We do let him cry. He usually complains for 5-10 minutes and then he’s out. At first it was hard, but once I started experiencing a well-rested child it became easy because I know how much he needs sleep.
Healthy Sleep Habits also prepared me for the future. When he drops from two naps a day to one, when he transitions to a bed, when he starts sleepwalking as children in my family are apt to do, when he needs to wake up early for school, etc. Although I am huge proponent of the library, this is one book I suggest you buy because it’s a guide for the next eighteen years.