I'm going to start with the book I can't stand the most:
Oh Marc Weissbluth, how I love to hate thee.
This seems to be one of those books that people either love or hate. Really, I can't understand people who love it, kind of like I can't understand people who are Scientologists or BAC. My feeling is the people who love it are people whose babies already 'kind of' slept pretty well from the get-go and just needed a little push in order to get them to sleep through the night. I could be wrong about that, but obviously it didn't work for me. For the most part, sheer mention of this book makes my blood boil.
Imagine you have a 4 or 5 month old baby that seems not to sleep...at all. Barely naps, like for 20 minutes at a time, and only if you jiggle him non-stop in order to make him fall asleep. Taking him on walks helps, he sleeps in the stroller and in the carseat and this is the only time you feel good about yourself b/c you actually got him to sleep, even though you're exhausted b/c you haven't rested at all.
You open this book and begin leafing through it. You stop on the second page where you see a sidebar that says "SLEEP DEPRIVATION HARMS CHILDREN" and then on the next page another one that says "WARNING: If your child does not learn to sleep well, he may become an incurable adult insomniac, chronically disabled from sleepiness and dependent on sleeping pills."
You are feeling so much more relaxed and at ease about this process, aren't you?
Turns out this book is smattered with little tidbits like this including other gems such as:
"After four months, naps of less than one hour cannot count as 'real' naps...naps of less than thirty minutes don't help."
Feeling good, feeling good.
"Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and perhaps long-term effects on brain function."
"Persistent sleeping problems in children have been linked to psychiatric symptoms in adolescents, hyperactivity in children, and depression in their mothers."
This is not hand-holding, Marc Weissbluth. Dr. Weissbluth, YOU ARE NOT HOLDING MY HAND!!
I also love the fact that he considers any sleep other than crib sleep- i.e. sleep in a stroller, swing or car seat, to be "junk" sleep. And if your child won't sleep any other way, then what???
Additionally, while I found the science behind sleep to be interesting, I found myself confused by his breakdown of "Different Decisions for Different Babies" I had a really hard time 'placing' my baby into one of these categories. My baby was not considered a fussy/colicky baby by any definition in any book I had read. He is/was simply a 'wakeful' baby. He just liked to stare at me with these huge wide eyes and not sleep. We nicknamed him 'Crackhead,' or alternately 'Beavis.' According to Dr. W, my baby is temperamentally 'easy,' or at worst 'intermediate.' So for me, this was not useful at all b/c even though he's an "easy" baby-meaning he doesn't cry or fuss that much, he still doesn't sleep.
Oh, and he likes to nurse too. A LOT. Nursing is exhausting, true. Dr. Weissbluth's suggestions of giving my baby formula to make nursing less exhausting was not an acceptable option for me. For some it may be, but for me, it didn't make any sense at all. Additionally, making my baby wait to nurse until a certain amount of time had passed didn't feel like the right decision either. Everything I've learned about breastfeeding has lead me to believe that the relationship is not time dependent, especially in the beginning and that as time went on, he would (and did) nurse less frequently. Waiting an allotted time period seemed like a recipe for a crying baby, engorged breasts, and quite possibly a reduced milk supply. Not that I wouldn't have liked more of a break, but it just didn't work out for me.
All Sidebars aside, when you get down to the actual nitty gritty of reading this book, Dr. W does have some information that I have found to be useful, such as:
"The One-toTwo Hour Window of Wakefulness"
I do find that if I follow this 'rule' as best as I can, I can generally get "the schnook" to take more naps, even if they are short. I don't know if this worked because his nervous system has matured, or if it would've worked when he was 1-2 months old and wide awake for hours on end, but regardless, it has helped me.
Bedtime Routines- To be fair, EVERY sleep book suggests bedtime routines, so not sure if Dr W really gets the credit here. However, I have been doing one since he was 6-7 weeks old and only when he got to be about 5 or 6 months old did it really help to put him down for a good long chunk (3-5 hrs).
Early Bedtimes- Now whenever I see that "the schnook" is super fussy and it's an hour earlier than his normal bedtime- I just start the routine and put him down as soon as possible.
Regardless, when I attempted to follow the book religiously it completely backfired on me. Schedules were just not happening for us at the time I started- around the 4 month mark. This is when he suggests that 'regular' nap times emerge. This was not at all the case for us, and guess what? It wasn't the case for any of the moms I knew, either. Hmm.