Seeing my struggles, a friend sent me a book on baby sleep. It emphasized the importance of "the right beginnings" and promised huge benefits such as emotional health (brain development is dependent on good routines) and ability to sleep though the night. It may have helped me find answers when I felt paralyzed by indecisiveness and have an illusion of a structure in the otherwise chaotic world, but mostly the book just added fuel to the fire: my daughter never slept the way the book prescribed. I was isolated in the house, as being out and about messed up the nap schedule, and felt like a failure all the time; my stress and anxiety only grew.
And yet, baby sleep books continue to be best-sellers. A book that uses hypnosis to get babies to sleep was a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Another book will soon be a movie. There is a whole industry making huge profits by promising relief to tired, gullible parents. At the same time, my own poll of parents on Facebook showed that most found the books they read to be quite helpful.
When I heard that my friend's friend, Alexis Dubief, was writing a baby sleep book, I asked her why we need another one. She responded:
"There are many baby sleep books in the world and most parents have a stack of them, high enough to topple should you attempt to place a new one, on the tower already leaning precariously on the bedside table.
And yet I felt we needed another one. For a number of reasons. For starters, most books present a fixed strategy, "Follow my guide to the letter and all will be well!" What I've observed is that any plan will work for easier babies. So if you're one of the roughly 30% of babies who settle more easily, fall into regular patterns without unwanted drama, who are generally a bit more chill, pick the book of your choice and commit to that plan, and it'll work gangbusters for you.
My kids were not part of this 30%. My readers' kids are not in the 30%. They are people for whom the standard sleep advice does not easily apply. I struggled with all of the non-obvious sleep stuff when my kids were babies despite having read all the books, and years and millions of years later, it's clear I'm not alone. My motivation in writing this book is to take all the insights and strategies that aren't found in that stack of books and present them in a digestible way, with enough humor to keep you from falling asleep while you're reading it."
As I got to know her more, I learned that Alexis runs a blog with 3-4 million readers annually, as well as the top baby sleep group on Facebook, has a huge devoted following, and a podcast. I haven't yet read her book (I hope she sends a copy!) but it sounds like the kind of advice I needed to hear back then. And I agree 100% that humor is a must.
I don't have advice to offer to parents, but if I could say one thing to them it would be this: Don't let anyone judge you, whether it's a book or a person. You are terrific parent. If you are torn about what to do, if books are offering conflicting information, or you are paralyzed by indecisiveness, flip a coin. Your baby will be alright.