One of the defining philosophies of Baby Sleep Science is that we know, like most things parenting, there IS more than one right way to improve your baby’s sleep! Also, like most things parenting, there are most definitely a few wrong ways too. We base our recommendations on what is known about the science of human circadian biology and infant and child sleep.
If you have decided to educate yourself about a topic, whether it’s parenting, sleep, nutrition, or other areas of health and wellness, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a wide range of peer reviewed, evidence based literature from a variety of sources so you can make informed choices. Relying solely on generational wisdom, only one author’s interpretation of information ( aka following one popular sleep book; which will always contain bias), or instincts alone will almost certainly lead to inaccurate expectations which is the surest saboteur of the kind of healthy sleep you are looking for.
When it comes to parenting books, we at Baby Sleep Science are a bit wary of any that promote a one-size-fits all approach to anything parenting, whether it be sleep, breastfeeding, behavior, introducing solids, or toileting – since parenting styles, babies’ temperaments, medical needs, and even developmental stage all play a role in the most appropriate approaches to parenting and sleep at various times.
And, we strongly discourage following the advice of authors or “experts” who recommend highly restrictive suggestions regarding excessively long periods of sleep and feeding restrictions for babies under 5 months. While there are several reasons we take this position, the most salient scientific rationale for this being babies’ sleep development is still immature at this age so aggressive sleep training for an entire night before that time will likely be unproductive; akin to asking baby to do something he’s simply not ready to do.
It’s important to note that there are other convincing personal arguments as to why or why not this type of restrictive sleep training should occur, but the science of this discussion should end with the science of human sleep development. Sleep training your 2-3 month old for 12 hours at night would amount to expecting him to speak sentences before he’s learned to babble sounds.
All that said, no one familiar with the research would argue that age appropriate, quality sleep is not essential or that sleep training may be necessary for some babies at some point. What is a lot less clear -due to lack of scientific evidence – is the best way to make it happen. Unfortunately, many of the popular sleep books out there suggest – or at least imply – a one-size-fits-all approach to sleep training and thus the Mommy wars begin about who’s “right” or which philosophy is “best”. The truth is, there is a lot of “right” in most of the sleep books out there.
Bottom line, having age appropriate expectations and using an age appropriate method of sleep training to guide your baby into those expectations is a very healthy approach and one we are happy to help you with along the way!
For more information check out the following resources:
Baby Sleep Science Guide (information on expectations and sleep training methods for babies 0-6 months)
Age by Stage Expectations Chart
Top 5 Reasons Sleep Training Fails
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