It's not rocket science that well-rested parents make better mothers and fathers. “With a good night’s sleep, parents can deal better, more effectively and rationally, with the extremely trying job of being parents,” said Dr. Polly Moore, director of sleep research at California Clinical Trials in San Diego.
Children also benefit from a good night’s sleep, explains Dr. James R. Smith, a member of the Sleep for Life clinical team. Sleep provides a restorative function at the cellular level, allows for normal brain and nervous tissue development and affects a child’s ability to learn properly. In other words, a well-rested baby is both healthier and happier (and happier to be around)!
It’s critical you both get a good night’s sleep, but that’s easier said than done, we know. So how do you get your child to fall – and stay – asleep so you can get the rest you need? Here, three of the most popular methods...
Dr. Richard Ferber is the Director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston and author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. Ferber is a proponent of independent sleep and recommends putting a child to bed awake after a warm, loving bedtime routine. The reputed “cry it out” method originated with Ferber; he suggests parents leave their child in their crib for incrementally longer time periods each night, allowing them to discover self-soothing methods.
A soft spot
Dr. William Sears is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and author of The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family. Sears supports attachment parenting and co-sleeping – recommending parents immediately respond to their child’s cries and bring them into their own bed if it helps.
Parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley wrote the The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Like Ferber, she emphasizes a consistent bedtime routine. Like Sears, she discourages a hardball approach to crying. Her own approach focuses each child’s unique sleep patterns and behaviors – and suggests ways that allow a child to self-soothe without fervent tears.
For the record, my first-born was “Ferberized” – after three nights he became (and remains) a dream sleeper. We never allowed our second-born to cry at night; we were afraid he was going to wake up his brother, so we jumped when he peeped and often brought him to our bed. And, since we choose to nurture our third child’s attachment to us since we adopted her as a toddler, we studied Pantley’s book and practiced her methods.
We took a different approach with each child because each child was different and grew up with different circumstances. And, with each child we had, we became different parents.
Today, all three of our children fall asleep in their own beds within minutes of hitting the pillow and sleep independently until morning. My husband and I get hours of uninterrupted sleep each night – no longer taking the back seat to anyone.
Realize the key to your ability to get a good night’s sleep is in your choices. First, find a sleep philosophy that’s right for you and your child then practice what the experts preach.
It’s as simple as A, B, Zzzzzzzzz.