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What’s Wrong With the Book: Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child?  Plenty!

Posted November 23, 2009

While Marc Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child  is among the better books on sleep (I used to recommend it on my previous website) there are many pages I'd like to rip out!  It grieves me to encounter parents who have worked for weeks on sleep guidelines as recommended in this book - yet a good night's sleep for their child and themselves is not happening .  On a topic as important as sleep for babies and young children whose minds and bodies are developing so fast, there is no room for misinformation or "feel good" advice. It is completely unacceptable to state, as Weissbluth does on page 170, that a nine-month old baby might still need two feedings during the night. Demand perhaps, but need? A nine-month old has for at least 5 months been perfectly capable of taking in sufficient calories during the daytime to maintain a satisfactory place on the growth chart. To state otherwise plays with parents minds and childrens health, unfairly. (The only exception to this would be a child with unusual health issues and in that case the family would be working with their physician to make an alternate plan.)

In my office library, there are 12 popular books on sleep: Twelve Hours Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old, the 7O'clock Bedtime, the New Contented Little Baby Book, BabyWise, Sleeping Through the Night, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, The Baby and Toddler Sleep Programme, The Self-Calmed Baby, Teach Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Calming Your Fussy Baby. I also own a few texts, among them is Principles and Practice of Pediatric Sleep Medicine. 

I have read each of these books.  Each one has some good ideas, followed by some bad ideas, followed by more good ideas.  Some recommendations are supported by research and some are based on speculation and observation. Each one is designed to appeal to a parents' desperate desire to find an "easy" way to  help their baby sleep.  However, in all the books I've read there are what I call fatal flaws --recommendations which I believe can result in even more exhaustion for the family, unexpectedly long crying times, and sabbotage the baby's ability to learn self-calming skills in a timely way.

The one exception is BabyWise by Ezzo.  This book has created so much controversy within the La Leche/Attachment Parenting/Breast-feeding lobby community, however, that you might need to hide it away if your public health nurse came for a visit. Even this  book isn't perfect and I don't list it on my website because it too has flaws (or should I say it doesn't always agree with me!).  But I really like the basic concept of "family centered parenting" as opposed to "child centered parenting." I also agree with Ezzo's concept of parent directed feeding as opposed to infant directed feeding.   My favorite quote from his book is "Your decision to bottle or breast-feed should be made free of coersion or manipulation." My reason for not listing this book on my website is that his subsequent books take on religious overtones and his family structure is fairly rigid.  Still, this is the book I recommend to help parents understand the value of putting a baby into bed awake and avoiding sleep crutches - from the very beginning.

All parenting books should be read with healthy skepticism, and as you attend my Sleep from the Start or Sleep from Now On seminars, I hope you'll bring that same skepticism with you.  You, the parents, know your baby best and once you have collected information from a few trusted resources you'll be ready to chart your own course toward good sleep for your family.  If you don't have time for a seminar, it's easy to arrange telephone and email counseling with me.

 


 

 

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A Clever Nightlight!

Posted November 17, 2009

Yesterday I learned about goodnitelite.com.  Here you can purchase a nightlight which shines like a moon from bedtime on, until the time parents set to be breakfast time - when the nightlite glows to a sun.  Now her child knows he can get up and call or come out of his room.  I love this idea and it will work for children who can't yet read a clock. In fact she has two of them and is going to experiment with using one at naptime, too. 

Please let me know if you have this product and how it works for you.

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Time-Outs Are Not Working!

Posted November 14, 2009

Dear Kitty,

My wife and i are going crazy because our 2.5 year old daughter is testing our patience constantly.  She climbs up where she isn't allowed, talks back and is whiny much of the time.  Things she isn't allowed to touch, such as our CD collection, seem to be her first targets every morning.  We've read discipline books and tried Time Outs, but she just laughs.  Why aren't they working for us?

I can certainly understand your frustration. Time-Outs vary greatly in style, from putting a child on a naughty mat or placing him on a stair - to putting him in his crib.  The only version of Time-Out I recommend in my seminar Setting Healthy Limits Age 1-5 Years, is one that begins with a startle and takes place behind a door and lasts only one minute.

The two other highly effective tools I discuss in my seminar are purposeful ignoring (this would cover whining and talking back) and fantastic babyproofing ( this would deal with the CD problem). 

Once your child reaches age three, she'll be a little more logical and be able to understand the consequences of breaking the rules you set up.  However, as you can see in my blog entry on The Oppositional Three Year Old, you won't be out of the woods - but the woods will look different.

It may help to realize that your daughter is doing exactly what she is supposed to do - which is to perform hundreds of tests to help her learn what works and what doesn't work.  The trick is to stay just one step ahead!

Kitty


Ways I can provide help:

Setting Healthy Limits Age 1-5 Years Seminar

Telephone Counseling

Email Counseling

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Is It Teething or…Language Development?

Posted November 13, 2009

This must sound like a foolish question.  Your 4.5 month old baby starts drooling, keeps her fingers constantly in her mouth and is often fussy.  Books, friends and relatives all tell you these are signs of teething.  Not only is this nearly always labeled as teething - you are cautioned to "be ready," for teething to start, as if this normal stage is something to dread.

For some reason it isn't common knowledge that there is a less expected - but much more likely - explanation for this behavior...language development!  Around 4 months of age your baby's system begins to produce more saliva.  This extra saliva production enables babbling.  Babies this age are ready to babble and need lots of saliva to make it work well.  "Bababa, dadadada" are good examples of this exciting, early communication.  The hands feel good in the mouth and the babbling is fun and the extra saliva often leaks down the lip, producing what could be interpreted as a "teething drool."

Speaking of teething, the first tooth often comes as a complete surprise to parents. Five months is not too early but 6 or 7 months is a more typical age. It is my observation that most babies sail through teething with only red cheeks at the most.  A few may act "sick" for a day or so and it may be these rarer reactions that give teething it's bad name.  

One last important point is that teething "pain" is much like a canker sore would be for us.  Uncomfortable and enough to make you a bit cranky, but not a good reason to be up in the night.  Giving a small dose of baby Tylenol before bed when you've seen puffy gums during the day is the most you should expect to do as your baby progresses through this very normal, exciting stage of development.

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