Battle of the Baby Sleep Experts

A guide to 10 baby-sleep guides, old and new.


A bumper crop of new sleep books has joined the old standbys, offering philosophies and techniques to fit every parent's and baby's needs and temperament. The tricky part is finding the perfect fit for you. Here is our guide to 10 baby-sleep guides, old and new:

EXPERT/BOOK SLEEP PHILOSOPHY BEST SUITED FOR American Academy of Pediatrics/George J. Cohen, M.D., American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child's Sleep: Birth Through Adolescence (Villard, 1999) By the time a baby is 6 to 12 weeks old, he should begin to sleep for six hours a night but may need help with self-soothing. Put baby in crib awake but drowsy. Middle-of-the-road types who don't believe in stringent sleep training. T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., and Joshua D. Sparrow, M.D., Sleep: The Brazelton Way (Perseus Publishing, 2003) Start sleep training at 4 months; offer soothing words like "you can do it"; and ultimately be ready for 5-10 minutes of crying before sleep. Parents who want advice from a real expert and aren't put off by a little crying. Richard Ferber, M.D., Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: New, Revised and Expanded Edition (Fireside, 2006) Structured sleep plan for babies 6 months and older. A less rigid version of the original "Ferberizing," which calls for 5-, 10- and 15-minute intervals of crying interspersed with comforting. Parents who want more control and really want or need their baby to sleep alone—and want to know what to do when this is accomplished. James McKenna, Ph.D., Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping (Platypus Media, 2007) Co-sleeping—either in the same bed, same room or a bedside bassinet—is the healthiest option for mom and baby when done safely. Avowed "babywearers" who want the facts about the benefits of co-sleeping. Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., Sleep Deprived No More: From Early Pregnancy to Early Motherhood—Helping You and Your Baby Sleep Through the Night (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2007) Concentrates on pregnancy, then new motherhood. A gentle philosophy with an emphasis on tiredness clues, sleep schedules, bedtime routines and putting your baby down drowsy but awake. Parents who cherish their sleep and want to sleep well themselves, starting in pregnancy and all the way through parenthood. Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night (McGraw-Hill, 2002) More than a "cry-it-out" guide, with a detailed sleeping log and 10-step customized plan. "Test mommies" give advice about solving sleep problems. With a foreword by William Sears, M.D., this book is also in the attachment-parenting camp but is for parents who want an organized plan of attack. William Sears, M.D., The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family (Little, Brown and Company, 2005) From the father of attachment parenting, techniques for developing a "nighttime parenting style" that encourages bonding, such as baby "wearing" and co-sleeping. Attachment-parenting aficionados or other parents who want to be close to their babies at night. Cathryn Tobin, M.D., The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan (Rodale, 2006) A kindler, gentler training method based on the Window of Opportunity when your child will naturally learn how to sleep, which Tobin says opens at about 6 weeks and closes at 6 months. Parents who are advocates of the tender-loving-care approach but want some specific tools. Jennifer Waldburger, L.C.S.W., and Jill Spivack, L.M.S.W., The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep—from Birth to Age 5 (Health Communications, Inc., 2007) These celebrity baby sleep coaches' approach, which they say yields results in less than a week, is a "least-cry" customized plan that entails "sleep planners" you can download from their website. Parents who want the advice of Hollywood "sleep coaches to the stars" without having to pay a hefty price. Marc Weissbluth, M.D., Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 3rd Edition (Ballantine Books, 2005) Advocates consistent naps and early bedtimes. Urges parents to look for their baby's drowsy state as a tiredness cue. Baby-centered parents who want some control over their child's sleep.

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