Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family
Authors: Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, Linda J. Smith, Teresa Pitman
This book is like a love letter to new parents. It is full of affirmations and support in a nonjudgmental way without being apologetic for what newborns and children truly need from us. It is chock full of internet links for further ideas, side bar quotes, charts, diagrams and best of all, supportive wording that encourages families to adapt the skills taught in the book to their own situations and personalities.
You will hear terms like frontloading, pack the crack, nudging and un-nudgeables, sleep stealers, sleep consolidation, sleep temperaments and more…all ideas that you just can’t find in any other book! And most importantly of all, you will be encouraged over and over to listen to your heart, your baby and your own parenting instincts and “mother-wisdom”. There are no rules in this book but there are a lot of facts on what normal human biology is and on the safest ways possible to get the best sleep you can in realistic, common sense terms.
Part 1 SLEEPING BETTER is full of information to empower parents on safety with the research to back up the claims. It is quick and to the point to help tired new parents who don’t have time to read an entire book! The Safe Sleep Seven is information that can be used “just for tonight” or in daily life. It is a way to plan ahead “just in case” or a way to make sure that your solution is the safest possible for you and your baby.
Part 2 MOTHERS AND BABIES TOGETHER entrusts mothers with awareness of what is “normal” and the honest expectations we need to instill into days and nights with babies. It holds information that is key to understanding the “hows and whys” of new baby sleep, growth, tummy size and a lot more! For adults to understand REM sleep of infants and when to expect circadian rhythms to mature is crucial for parents. They know they are not alone!
Part 3 SLEEP AND BEDSHARING PRACTICALITIES gives valuable ideas and strategies for napping, nights and making decisions around bedsharing or alternative routes that work in your own home. You will find the charts on “sleep personalities” so useful. The chapter on working outside the home and taking care of yourself while trying to also take care of a little one is written in such a tender way. I think my favorite part of this section was the “nudging” idea. I love that we are encouraged as parents to give our children reliable nighttime parents but also encouraged to watch both our own limits and our little ones. I think most new families will be so appreciative of the reality scoop given and the reassurance of flexibility in making changes that work for US where we are in our parenting journey.
Part 4 SLEEP AGES AND STAGES is such a great “go to” section. It is broken down by the first few days, weeks, and months and into and beyond toddlerhood. If you already have a little one, you know that there are expectations and there are realities. This book is an honest picture of what to expect and how to cope with the challenges of lack of sleep while adjusting to the changes that come in time. It really helps you keep your sanity and includes great techniques on calming and comforting as well as when to consider asking for more help or support. There are lots of practical tips for making it through the “nighttime daze”. There are helpful ways to carve out self-care included often in this part of the book. I especially loved reading the chapter on toddlerhood and beyond. I have some very fond memories of those days nursing and the special bond it brings to lay down and chat with my little ones at nap or bed times. It really gave wonderful hints for keeping sleep at this age about a sense of peace and calm when this stage has so many transitions and anxieties for little ones.
Part 5 SAFE-SLEEP SCIENCE gets to the full of the cold-hard-facts. It was honestly the hardest part of the book to read in terms of my own parenting emotions but also gave quite a bit of reassurance that my heart and the science are in line. It was also a very thorough and complete look at the past and the current research and information on attachment theories, on sleep science and concerns around sleep training and the stress it puts on babies and parents. It also was very clear about the differences between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID), Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation (ASSB) and what the real causes and risks of these are in our lives as breastfeeding families with breastfeeding babies.
Part 6 HELP is the exactly that! Helpful ideas for the criticism or questions you or others may have. Their explanation of the “RRID Response” (Respect, Reflect, Inspect, Deflect) is going to be helpful for communication in many aspects of parents lives, not just with regards to sleep. The FAQ section here is great for all the typical situations that arise during the first few years, and include illnesses, medications, reflux, overnights and weaning. Don’t miss the last chapter on getting and giving help. It has some wonderful ideas for all types of parents so you know there is always a way you can find support and also BE support.
Below are some of my favorite love notes from the book!! You will surely find some of your own when you read your copy. I am sorry I don’t have the page numbers next to each of them. But you can have fun finding them as you read the book yourself and add to this list!! These authors really have a love for babies and it shines throughout Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family.
I am a breastfeeding support person so I plan on using them often in our groups when we discuss sleep and include this book each time! I truly hope you get as much out of this book as I did!
“Let go of perfect. Nobody gets there anyway.”
“Your breastfeeding relationship is communication, long before your baby can talk. It’s gentling her down to sleep, long before she can understand bedtime stories. It’s even being silly together, long before she can deliver the punch line. Breastfeeding is an intense relationship with great food on the side, not a perfect infant food that may include a relationship.”
“You’re built strong, and you’re built competent. You’re going to find happiness and skills that you never knew you had in you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it yet.”
“Babies aren’t interested in schedules and plans. They live moment to moment, without clocks or calendars. There needs are immediate and strongly expressed.”
“Nudging toward more mature sleep is all about letting it happen or helping it happen, but recognizing that it’s not always best to make it happen.”
“Maybe your love affair with your baby hasn’t even begun yet. Love comes as a tsunami for some, a gently rising tide for others. “
“A planned ahead bed is just like a seat belt.”
“…adapt the information to your own circumstances. Love and common sense are a highly protective combination!”
“When you start developing quirky routines that aren’t in the books, your definitely sliding into motherhood.”
“Even if fussy evenings continue for weeks on end, it might help to know it’s normal, it’s common, and it ends.”
“Hunger isn’t always the problem, but nursing is almost always the solution.”
“You need someone who’ll support breastfeeding, not compete with it.”
On the subject of back to work: “…you’re in the tough position of balancing a pattern-based baby with a schedule-based workplace. Remember that perfect isn’t possible or even healthy.”
“You learn motherhood on less sleep than you’re used to, and you learn it every day of the week, every hour of the day. You’re amazing! Your baby is amazing too, and the team you make together is amazing. “
“And of course nursing is more than food and drink and antibodies. It reassures a baby who is feeling lonely or scared or who’s uncomfortable for some reason; it helps him get to sleep when he’s tired or wired; it’s even a painkiller!”
On the topic of big developmental changes… “No one sleeps very well when there’s a big project in the works.”
“We often get to where we are one night at a time, and we often don’t end up where we thought we would.”
“We do much better with examples than rules… Whatever helps all of you get more sleep and feel connected is good.”
“Routine? No routine? Whatever works, it will probably change over time, so it helps to be flexible.”
“Responding to your baby isn’t weakness. It’s an important, powerful, healthy protective instinct.”
“Breastfeeding is a take-and-make arrangement: if your baby doesn’t take much milk, you aren’t going to make as much milk.” …with regards to skipping nursing sessions for “sleep training”.
“Babies do need a certain amount of sleep in order to grow their bodies and brains, but they’re born knowing how and how long to sleep.”
“There is a wide range of normal, and your baby will let you know where his “normal” is.”
“Model kindness, and children learn kindness. Model distance, and they learn distance. There’s a time for kind limits and boundaries, but not in infancy. If you model empathy, responsiveness, trust and kindness, and compassion, there’s a good chance that’s what you’ll get when you’re elderly and dependent on him.”
“It’s the rare parent who doesn’t look back, years later, and regret some decisions. We all do the best we can with what we know at the time. But normal parenting is neither boot-camp sleep training nor total self-sacrificing attention. “
“Responding to your baby through the night helps build an emotionally strong and resilient personality – the kinds of person you’ll like to have around when you grow old.”
“Children don’t need perfect parents. They just need to be loved and respected around the clock.”
With regards to “bad habits”… “The child who feels more secure usually sleeps more soundly. And that’s a sleep habit worth cultivating!”
“Sharing sleep with a loving parent can make a child more self-confident, happier, and better able to make friends.”
“Mothers have protected their babies by sleeping near or next to them since time began, and most nursing mothers today do it at least some of the time. You have the company of billions of mothers all over the world. Picture all of those women, all those babies, all those beds. They’re cuddling, snuggling, touching, nursing, and snoozing together at this very moment. It’s an old image, it’s a modern image, and it’s rooted deeply in the instincts and biology of mothers and babies.”
“It’s okay to love your baby – to hold and snuggle and nurse without anyone else’s permission or approval. If someone’s advice makes you uncomfortable, trust your instincts and trust your baby.”