When I was pregnant with Lucy, I did not read a single parenting book. I thought "what if my baby doesn't do that?" It would just make me feel like a bad mom. And even worse mom if I couldn't get her to do all the things that the "experts" say should be happening. I didn't see the point in filling my head with idea of how things were supposed to go before I had even met her.
In the last month I have bought every single book out there on sleep. Well, okay, not every single one, but a fairly large sampling. I have Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth (HSHHC), which tells me that if I don't get Lucy to sleep well 3 months ago, she will grow up to be an insomniac wth low brain performance. He also peppers his book with boxed reminders like NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY, but then in the body of the text says things like "you may have to occasionally wake a baby to protect the sleep schedule" and listing naps of "limited duration" in his sleep schedule. The only way I know to limit the duration of a nap is to wake her up. Then to emphasize the point he just negated, he puts NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY in another box labled IMPORTANT POINT. So which is it? He also makes overly-wordy non-points like this: "After 4months, naps of less than one hour cannot count as "real" naps. Sometimes a nap of 45 minutes may be all your child needs, but naps less than thirty minutes don't help." Why not just say "after 4 months, naps less than 30 minutes cannot be counted as "real" naps. Use less ink, make more sense. We're sleep deprived, here, Dr. Weissbluth, we don't have the mental capacity to unravel your circuitous ramblings. He also spends more than half of the rather thick book talking about clinical research and sleep studies. While interesting, this is also not information easily digested by those of us who have not had a good night's sleep since sometime in early September. I am not saying he doesn't have some good points or good advice (especially the importance of a regular schedule), but they are buried so deep in jargon that I have to wear waders to get at any of them. I won't even mention his section headers that make even less sense than some of his IMPORTANT POINTS. I admit, if I were getting a solid 8 or 9 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night, I might be able to get a better grasp on what he is saying. But then I wouldn't need his book, would I? I have read a total of 176 pages of his book and have yet to come across practical advice beyond "protect the sleep schedule". Even the sections entitled "Action Plan for Exhausted Parents" only have cryptic lists and references to other sections of the book.
I also have The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (TNCSS). This book appealed to me for its gentle approach to getting your child to sleep better at night. Her ideas seemed to make sense, but her book was mentioned by name in HSHHC (well, sort of, I assume there would be legal issues involved if it were ACTUALLY mentioned by name) as full of nonsense and "ridiculous" notions. She gives what seems to be really well-tested advice from an in-the-trenches breastfeeding, co-sleeping mom about getting your baby to sleep through the night without allowing her to cry it out (CIO), but all of it requires days and days (possibly months) of gradual changes. She says sleeping through the night requires either crying or time and she will choose time every time. Or something like that. And then at the end of the book she gives advice for using an attended CIO method if nothing else works, after spending the whole book saying that you shouldn't let your baby cry. Her book is great in many ways. The thing I like most is her acknowledgment that all babies are dfferent and will respond differently to varying methods. Hers is not a "one size fits all" solution. She provides a menu of methods and you choose the one you think will best fit your life and child. If I had the patience for all her sleep logs and sleep plan evaluation logs, I would probably be better at implementing a decent strategy from her book. As it is, however, I do not find myself able to make the effort. Laziness? Perhaps. Maybe I just don't think sleeping should require paperwork. Then again, maybe it does, because we're currently not doing either. I like the idea of TNCSS, but I lack the perserverence to follow through.
I also have The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg (TSTBW). I haven't made it through the whole thing yet, but I am finding her advice to be generally sound and practical. I am thoroughly annoyed at her breastfeeding and bottle feeding advice. I am 100% in the "breast is best" category, but I am not a militant ant-formula mom. I think if you can, you should, and one shouldn't be made to feel guilty about the need to use formula. Thank goodness there is an adequate substitute for breast milk, or millions of babies all over the world would die. All that being said, I think that she underplays the importance of breastfeeding in the interest of not offending her formula-feeding clients. She calls breastfeeding a "feeding fashion":
Today, breastfeeding is all the rage. It doesn't mean formula is "bad". In the postwar decades, in fact, the majority believed that formula was best for babies and only a third of all mums nursed their babies. Currently, around 60% of mums breastfeed - although fewer than half of them are still nursing six months later. Who knows? As this book is being written, scientists are experiementing with the notion of genetically altering cows to produce human breast milk. If that happens peraps in the future everyone will tout cow's milk.
In fact, a 1999 article in the Journal of Nutrition suggests "that it may ultimately be possible to design formulas better able to meet the needs of individual infants than the milk available from the mother's breast".Ummmm...yeah. Because everyone LOVES genetically altered food, and what better thing to give your fragile newborn than experiemental cow-human milk hybrid. It's not like scientists have ever gotten anything wrong before, is it? And if they are going go through the trouble to genetically alter cows to produce human milk, why not just use human milk to begin with? I am all for better and better formulas for those who cannot (or choose not to) breastfeed for one reason or another, but ALL formula is based on breastmilk because it is the single best possible food for a baby. End of story. Millions of years of evolution have produced the current makeup of breastmilk, and try as they might, forumla makers have yet to get it 100% correct. She also implements a routine from day one, and is "never an advocate of on-demand feeding" (emphasis is the author's). I am not against a routine, but the idea of NOT feeding your baby when she is hungry seems as cruel an unresponsive as leaving a baby to CIO. Also, not feeding on cue can lead to issues in keeping up wth your supply. Now I do understand that as a clueless new mom, I often tried to feed my baby when she wasn't hungry, but, being the almost purely instinctual being that she was as a newborn, Lucy simply didn't eat if she wasn't hungry. Hogg also says that colic is caused by overfed babies. You cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. Every lactation consultant I ave ever spoken too has said those exact words to me. Babies are smarter than adults are. They won't over eat and they won't starve themselves. She also says not to let your baby simply suckle at the breast if she is not feeding and to give a pacifier instead. Um...a pacifier was designed to mimic...suckling at the breast...
So that bugs me about TSTBW. But her general advice about routines and sleep are practical and followable (unless, like me, you choose to feed on-cue). She offers great tips for figuring out wat your baby actually needs and has some very helpful charts on baby body language that I could have used when Lucy was just a little nugget. I haven't read the section on sleep yet (this was a general parenting book as opposed to a sleep-specific book), but I am hoping it provides me some ideas that don't require CIO. Or 4 months of gradual changes.
Also, Tracy, don't call me "ducky".
And finally, I have Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber. I haven't touched that one yet. I don't want to "ferberize" my little sweet potato. However, I read an interview with Dr. Ferber on how he felt about being to inextricably associated with the CIO (either the extinction or graduated extinction method of sleep training). He said his book was largely misunderstood (or not even read cover to cover) and that his book offers many other useful guidelines and strategies for, well, solving your child's sleep problems. He said that anyone who said they "used the Ferber method" hasn't read his book. I wouldn't know. I haven't read his book.
So at the end of the day (and all night long) a, I still find myself in the darkened nursery with a baby on my boob thinking "here we go again". It is harder and harder to detach the little sucubus when she has fallen asleep. Even if my boob literally falls out of her mouth, she will root around until she finds it before relaxing again. I play this game over and over, as many times a night as it takes. Sometimes that means twice - which I will take any night of the week. Sometimes it means five or six or more. I spend those hours in the rocking chair thinking about how to implement a new strategy. I rarely make any concrete plans, and if I do, they are immediately forgotten as my head hits the pillow. I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I have a laissez-faire approach to parenting, and that ther eis nothing wrong with that. Lucy is not going to head off to college with my boob in her mouth and she won't need to nurse to fall asleep when she's 10 years old. Or even three years old. So I am going to try to enjoy nursing my precious baby to sleep for now and deal with the conseqences later.