Good Night Sleep Tight: Best Sleep Book Review
I find myself recommending my favorite sleep book, “Good Night, Sleep Tight”, about once a week, so I thought I’d write an article about how this book changed my life.
My first child, my daughter Emma, was born in 2005. Prior to her birth I had practically no experience with babies. Scratch that – I had no experience with babies. I did like (almost) every new mom does; I read a lot of parenting books! I did not, however, by any means feel like I had any clue whatsoever what to expect when my baby arrived.
Back to the point…. Well, we (my husband and I) made every mistake a new parent could make when it came to the baby’s sleeping. A friend of mine who had had a baby a couple of years earlier told me about her success using a Moses basket for her newborn, so I decided that was what we would try. I had no “plan b” – first mistake! If you’re not familiar with Moses baskets, it’s basically a large, oval-shaped basket that has a small padded mattress and usually padded sides as well. It’s meant to be small and cozy to imitate the intimate quarters (the womb) that newborns are used to.
What's a new mom to do?
My first baby arrived and I was overjoyed. She was so tiny and cute and all I wanted to do was hold her. All. The. Time. I’ll get back to that in a moment. So, I put her in the basket to sleep at night and she HATED it. She wanted nothing to do with being in that basket. She despised being on her back, too.
So what’s a new mom to do? Hold her baby, of course! So that’s what I did. That’s what my hubbie did. Every nap she took – and newborns sleep a lot – was on my chest or my husband’s. At night, one of us would lie in bed with her on our chest most of the night. We’d prop pillows on either side of us so we – and the baby - wouldn’t roll. At this point, a lot of what happened back then is a blur, but I do recall going back and forth from the aforementioned sleep routine to letting her fall asleep on our chests and then trying to put her down in her crib, which led to many, many night awakenings. At some point she ended up sleeping in our bed between us.
The one thing that remained constant, however, was naptime – she consistently napped on me. Now when you’re pregnant you are told that after the baby arrives, you should sleep when the baby sleeps. I have never been a napper and can easily go on little sleep most of the time; I prefer to get things done when I have the chance. Well, I got nothing done after Emma was born because she napped on me – I said to myself and to others that I considered it my forced relaxation. At least, that’s what I tried to believe!
Something's gotta give!
I had stopped working after she was born, so my husband and I decided we may as well try for #2 since I was not working and the kids could be close in age and be able to have each other to play with, etc, etc. When Emma was 10 months old, I got pregnant with #2, Kate. When I started getting big, which was very early in the pregnancy, I knew something had to change with Emma’s sleep habits.
I discovered Good Night, Sleep Tight - yay!
I spoke with other moms and bought several books on sleep issues and training. We tried the “cry-it-out” method - which came highly recommended by several friends - for a few days and I couldn’t handle it. I would sit on the floor outside her bedroom listening to her cry and feeling like I was just traumatizing her! Then one day I was flipping through a parenting magazine and read a short article written by a mom who was talking about this method called the Sleep Lady Shuffle, found in the book by Kim West, “Good Night, Sleep Tight.”
It sounded do-able and so I bought yet another book, which ultimately ended up being the last sleep book I’d ever buy. At around 11 months old, I began the Sleep Lady Shuffle with Emma in her crib at night and it worked! Now, it did take a couple of weeks until it worked, but we stuck with it (consistency is key!) and it worked!
What is the Sleep Lady Shuffle?
How does it work, you ask? Well, the technique does involve crying (mostly the child – LOL), but the best part about that, and the biggest difference compared to other techniques, is that you are in the room with your child. Basically, you sit next to the crib to start and you do not speak at all, except to say the occasional soothing comment (in the beginning). If the baby gets up, you silently put her down with a gentle pat on the back or butt just once. As you progress, you slowly move farther and farther away from the crib until you’re out of the room. The main goal is for the baby/child to learn to soothe themselves to sleep. This is the foundation for good sleeping for the rest of their lives. Of course, this is just a summary of the “Sleep Lady Shuffle” technique – If I were to detail the whole thing here it all I might violate some copyright, AND you wouldn’t go buy the book!
Boy, do we learn from our mistakes!
I must add here that when Kate came along, we did things very differently. She slept in a mini co-sleeper, which is like a mini crib that sits next to and attaches to the side of your bed. No more sleeping on my chest. She slept in the co-sleeper every night and napped there or in her swing or a baby rocking seat. It was trying at first, but it is with all babies. We started the Sleep Lady Shuffle with her at around 6 months old (when we transitioned her to her crib full-time) and it worked very quickly.
Our current bedtime routine
My girls are now 3 and 4 and to this day they are wonderful sleepers. At bedtime, they get their bath, followed by story time – sometimes they want to have dance time instead – and then bedtime. We kiss them goodnight, shut off the light and leave. They always like to pick a book for bed and they use their night lights to see and flip through their book and within a few minutes they are asleep. Sure, occasionally they’ll have a hard time falling asleep and call for us and one of us will go in there and give another hug and kiss and tell her to go to sleep and leave. We never have to be in the room until they fall asleep; they put themselves to sleep like pros. And they sleep all night long. Bedtime is a pleasure. For them and us.