Twelve Hours Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: the best parenting book I've read

After our daughter Poesy was born, we were inundated with parenting advice and books -- big, thick, 900-page bricks that purported to tell us everything we needed to know to raise a newborn into a productive member of society. Of course, we had neither the attention nor the time to devote to following any of this advice.

There's one exception: my friends JC Herz and John Scott recommended a remarkable book called Twelve Hours' Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success, a very short book that does exactly what it says on the cover: it's a simple prescription for teaching your baby to sleep through the whole night by 12 weeks.

It takes about an hour to read and does not involve doing anything horrible to your kid like letting her cry all night. Basic method: for the first 8 weeks, keep track of when the kid feeds and sleeps. At 8 weeks, use this to come up with a sleep and feed schedule that more or less fits the rhythm she's falling into. Gently encourage her to stick to it (e.g., if she's hungry before mealtime, see if you can distract her for a few minutes [the first day], then a few minutes more [the next].)

Over a remarkably short period Poesy fell into a natural schedule that has her sleeping through the night almost every night -- even after we change timezones -- we've taken her to New York, Toronto, LA and Tokyo, and she's only eight months old! The impact on our lives was miraculous -- getting a full night's sleep every night has made us into better, happier, more attentive parents; and giving Poesy a good night's sleep every night has made her happier, more alert and more playful during the day.

The author specializes in coaching parents with "difficult" kids -- multiples, kids with disabilities, kids with colic, etc, and she says the method works on all of them. I've got a number of friends who've gone years with their kids before getting a whole night's sleep -- I can't imagine how hard that must be on your attention, mood, marriage, and parenting!

Reading this book was the best hour's investment I made in my parenting. Twelve Hours' Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success


  1. My wife is due at the end of December.

    THIS has jumped, leaped, bounded, and boinged its way to the top of my (our) reading list.

  2. Never heard of this particular book before now, but we had been given a copy of Dr Ferber’s famous book on the topic back when my wife was pregnant with our first back in 2001, and we ended-up using the Ferber method on both our kids, and were very successful with it.

    There’s a discussion of the (now controversial, apparently) Ferber method at

    and his book can be ordered from Amazon at

  3. After months and months of our colicky daughter not sleeping well, we eventually tried Ferber, and in 2 or 3 nights, it worked!

    We were VERY fortunate with our second child – without really doing much of anything, he was sleeping through the night by 2 months.

    I guess what I am getting at is just be open and find something that works for you and your child – nice that there is another tool in the arsenal out there.

    With any luck, my wife and I won’t need it!

  4. At work so I can’t Log-in(hence the anonymous)

    Babies need to wake up several times a night to eat.
    Their stomachs are too small to sleep the whole night until they are at least 6 months old. Not only that but the Ferber method to me is equal to child neglect. “Let them cry it out, it’s good for them!” Only thing it’s good for is instilling a premature feeling of abandonment and isolation. Not only that but you’re desensitizing yourself to the sound of you child’s cries, a natural connection to the needs of a being that can’t speak, being severed for the convenience of a few extra hors of sleep.

    xpctd bttr frm y Cry.

    Here’s a book you should be reading.

  5. My firstborn is due in two weeks – this looked promising, but it’s really not aimed at babies who breastfeed (it’s for formula babies). There are obvious reasons it won’t work for nursing mothers (mastitis etc), but it’s also not a natural approach for nurturing an infant that isn’t built to sleep that long at a stretch that early in life. I’m not a medical professional, but the natural eating/sleeping cycle seems a wise thing to maintain.

    I was all excited to grab this book, dangit. I want to sleep!

  6. I haven’t read the book but I’m pretty boggled by the idea that a 3 month old baby can eat 4 times a day and thrive. That’s certainly not true of breastfed babies.

  7. Congratulations Cory! Sleep is such a rare and precious commodity for a new parent.

    We were lucky in that my critter was a good sleeper early on without too much effort on our part. It is a great, great relief after the first couple of months to be able to sleep through the night again.

    The book we turned to early on was “The Happiest Baby on the Block” which really helped out in the beginning when nobody knew what was going on – her or us.

    I also liked “The Baby Owner’s Manual” subtitled “Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance”. Both because it’s funny and because of all the pictures… I do love books with pictures.

    Anyway, congratulations and good luck to all the expecting and new parents out there. Do what works for you – every baby is different!

  8. Babies want to sleep with their mamas. Bring your newborn into bed with you and let her/him nurse on demand. We did this with our two daughters (3 years and 14 mos) and have only had a handful of nights that didn’t go perfectly.

    It’s not for everyone and I realize there are a million ways to skin a cat, but I thought this was a good opportunity to advocate for cosleeping and attachment parenting. Why should baby be forced to sleep alone right out of the womb?!

    Here’s more:

  9. I have used a similar method to the one described above for 3 of my children. It works with breastfeeding. Breasts adjust to milking time. The babies thrived and became quite chunky till weaned.

  10. I confess to being rather skeptical about a book which works so well on getting babies to sleep all night; but then, I have a hard time with the vast numbers of parenting books already available. New parents are inundated with information – I remember feeling overwhelmed with all the possible ways to feed, clothe, and care for my baby daughter.

    Having a baby sleep through the night is a huge social requirement. Yes, it means parents sleep well too, thereby being better able to function during the day. But learning what your child’s specific needs are is the most important thing to do; eventually, all babies sleep through the night.

    A final note: in an interview a few years ago, Dr. Ferber expressed regret that he was so adamantly opposed to children sharing a bed with their parents. He observed that the needs of each family are different, and parents need to determine what works best for them and their children.

  11. There have been community-funded tv spots that warn against keeping your kid in bed with you, for fear of suffocation.

    I know I’ve slept in my parent’s bed as a baby though, or at least as a small child.

  12. #7 I’m the one on the plane with the 5 year old, 2 year old and newborn. With no other adult help. And I make it look good.

  13. While I do find that the book’s suggestion of following the baby’s rhythm is very logical (and probably does work), I’m opting for the method mentioned by #10 and 11.

    Most mammal babies cry when they sense that their parent is away. They are wired that way (and I can’t see that a mere couple generations of living in spacious, several-bedroom houses with working parents could change that). One can imagine the instinctive alarm an infant would feel waking in the dark without feeling his parent’s warmth and breathing nearby.

    I’m not saying other techniques don’t work or shouldn’t be attempted. But I’d feel it would be natural for the newborn to sleep with his parents, feeling content and safe with access to the breast and a sense of protection. Everyone I know who tried it that way had wonderful results.

    And I think the belief that parents could crush or suffocate their baby is ludicrous. I like to believe that, as animals, we are still better wired than that. I also think parents have a great fear that their baby will grow too attached or dependant of them, so they try to wean and isolate them as early as possible. I would think that most healthy, confident children have an innate and strong desire to be independant. We just have to stop being in such a hurry to turn them into little adults.

    They might keep you awake and be needy at first, but one day soon, they walk out the door and no longer want you to walk them to school, or smooch them in public. And most parent feel it is much too soon when it happens ;)

  14. My youngest (baby 2.0) has always slept through the night through a process somewhat similar to the one you describe above.

    The next challenge is how to stop the children waking up so early.

    Smallest baby likes to wake up at exactly 6:30 every morning. Oldest infant thinks that 7:30 is more sensible. On a weekend both times seem like ungodly abominations.

  15. My son slept in our bed till he was a year old. For a year or two after that he fell asleep in our bed then was moved to his. Sometimes he would wake up before I moved him and go to his own bed. We still occasionally nap together. I’m not a hippie or anything, but I know that us sleeping in the same bed made for a happier, cuddlier, baby. I think it’s terrible that parents are made to feel that they are endangering their children by sleeping with this at night.

  16. “It takes about an hour to read and does not involve doing anything horrible to your kid like letting her cry all night.”

    That’s kinda a value loaded statement. Kids are somewhere between remarkably resilient and unbelievably resilient. I think the biggest mistake new parents make is assuming that their baby is some kind of delicate flower that can’t handle the non-womb world. Babies are tough as nails.

    I’m sure this book’s method works, but that doesn’t make it damaging to spend two or three nights letting a child choke on their own tears in a gentle/gradual way. In my experience, the ones who suffer from kids crying themselves to sleep are parents, not babies. Obviously, newborns need to eat more often and just plain wake up a lot, but after a few months there’s no physical _need_ to wake up.

    As long as you stay consistent, the sadness method really only takes a few nights (two or three for our son) and the guilt fades very quickly.

  17. Operant conditioning. You’re obviously evil overlords, might as well go ahead and put her in a Skinner Box already. ;)

  18. dear cory,

    at some points i really wished my kid would’ve found his sleep-through-mode in his very first weeks. infact it took him 11 month. he just learned to slept though this week. what a treat. i totally agree.
    but even taking so so long, that’s fine by me now. see, babies are in desperate need of food in their first months, even in the middle of the night. some babies get problems gaining weight if they don’t eat all 3-4 hours. our midwife warned us about this. her advice was to give food whenever needed. and – as you can see – eventually my kid found his own way.

    i think it’s wrong to proclaim sleep-though as #1 goal for a newborn to be trained to. if it works for your family – that’ ok. but by telling und asking everyone with babies about sleeping through you hassle those families that want it to do it their way. do you know how often i’ve been asked if my kid is “already” sleeping through? those questioners alway seem bewildered if you say “no, but that’s fine”. what a dogma.

    nevertheless i really want to read more about what you recommend here. thanks.

  19. We used the book and have recommended it to all our friends lucky enough to have a new baby. It does work, but 12 weeks may be pushing it a little bit.
    Regarding some of the comments above, it does work for breastfeeding mom’s. It is obviously a bit harder to judge how much milk baby is getting (because the method to eliminate a feeding, and thus one middle-of-the-night awakening is the feed baby a little more before and after the 3 or 4am feeding, and a little less at the feeding you’re trying to eliminate). But you can do it!
    As for the crying part, she makes very clear that the crying is hardest on the parents. I suppose if you’ve got tough skin or a large enough place to deal with 30 minutes to an hour of screaming baby at 3am you can do it that way, but this just seems to be a better for everyone involved.
    It is a great book and like you said, you can read the thing in an hour, max.
    i think it’s even available highly discounted from certain websites, but forget if it was directly from the author or Amazon.

  20. “…getting a full night’s sleep every night has made us into better, happier, more attentive parents…”

    LOL, when I first read the line I thought it said “…more ATTRACTIVE parents…”.

    Well, maybe so, without those unsightly sleep-loss bags under your eyes. :)

  21. You know, it’s funny. Every time I hear someone say they’re having difficulties getting their child to sleep through the night, I ask one question: “Does he/she sleep with you?” The answer is always “Yes, why?” For the first 3 or 4 months of life, our little one was a pretty light sleeper. A cat pawing by outside her door could wake her. I cannot imagine how little sleep we would have gotten if she’d shared bed with us.

    Also, crying is not a bad thing. Our daughter is 17 months old. Sometimes, she doesn’t want to take a nap, but we know she’s sleepy. Put her down, and the crying is over in less than two minutes. The most important lesson for new parents, IMHO, is learning the difference between crying that requires intervention and crying that does not.

  22. ^^^#24 Tru Dat. Aaaah, babies. The ONLY sensation akin to waking up and realising you’ve had eight hours sleep for the first time in months is being let out of jail.

  23. My kid slept through the night from day one. He spent half his time sleeping in his own crib and the other half sleeping with me. They can’t sleep with you all the time because you aren’t going to be sleeping as much as a baby is.

    I think the feeding thing makes a difference. It has to be easier to digest human milk than some food industry-concocted formula. At the end of the first week a baby is supposed to gain back his birthweight. Mine had done that and gained a pound besides.

    My mother was of the scheduled-baby school and had all sorts of ideas about how to schedule the kid. I just ignored her. It made things much more relaxed.

    I can’t take credit for my son’s easy-for-adults sleeping pattern. It’s just the way he was, genetic I guess. He was a sturdy kid. A slight child is going to need to feed at more frequent intervals and that is just fine.

    But breastfeeding and sleeping in the bed with us (for our comfort as much as his) didn’t hurt at all.

    1. A slight child is going to need to feed at more frequent intervals

      I have several friends who had 9+ pounders and they were sleeping through the night by the end of the first week.

  24. 17 “And I think the belief that parents could crush or suffocate their baby is ludicrous. I like to believe that, as animals, we are still better wired than that.”

    And yet we’re not. Please, if you really are interested, contact your local DCFS or child welfare department. They can show you the pictures of children who have suffocated or been crushed in bed with their parents. Their sober parents. It’s heartbreaking.

    Other cultures are often held up as the example of how co-sleeping works so well, but remember, those families are generally sleeping on the floor or on mats on the floor – without furniture to fall in between and bedding to get caught up in.

    I’m not saying co-sleeping doesn’t work for a lot of people and can’t be a safe, nurturing alternative. However, you do your argument no service by turning a blind eye to the real concerns and dangers that are there.

    & yes. A baby who weighs 12 pounds or more – breastfed or bottle fed – can certainly make it through the night without eating.

  25. We co-slept with our first byrn for 2 years. He would actually sleep on top of us all snuggled up for the first three or four months. The only issue we had were with night breast feedings when he’d fall asleep while nursing. This led to wrotten teeth, because the naturally sweet breast milk would pool in his mouth. He went cold turkey at 2 with the introduction of a “big boy bed.”

    For our second child, we almost immediately put him in a bassonette next to the bed. At about three months, we did something akin to the Ferber method. My wife slept in another room while I would hush him during the night. This was only similar to Ferber in that I would sleep through the night even if he would wake. When he transitioned to a crib, we’d rock him to sleep or lay next to him on the floor until he dozed off.

    There’s no singular correct method. You have to genuinely take into consideration what’s most important for your whole family.

    Just realized… what’s so great about this thread is that you can talk about your kids as if you have a captive audience, and you don’t even have to read anyone else’s posts. Sweet! Too bad playground parents weren’t more like this.

  26. In the 16 months our son has been on this planet I feel like I have aged 5 years. It’s all because of the sleep deprivation. It is truly devastating. Being parents that never thought CIO was/is a good idea, this book sounds interesting. Even if it seems to run counter to millenia of human baby-rearing tradition for the sake of propagating western ideals of independence and productivity.

  27. Over a remarkably short period Poesy fell into a natural schedule that has her sleeping through the night almost every night

    Don’t you think Poesy’s sleep cycle prior to the change would have been more ‘natural’? I mean, she’s a few weeks old, how could you be closer to human instinct than that?

    Just sayin’

  28. We adopted the horrible “no attention” method, where we didn’t talk to or make eye-contact with the sprog during the night feeds, or when he woke crying. We’d pick him up check he wasn’t wet/dirty, cold/warm etc, service or feed him if necessary, and then put him down. It was truly awful for us – for me particularly, because I was working full time during the day so this was virtually my only contact with my son during the week, and I wasn’t able interact with him at all.

    But it was only awful for about two months, and then suddenly he was sleeping through, and the happiest chirpiest fellow you could ever meet. He’s a robust toddler now and has been a solid 12 hour sleeper since he was a few months old, and whatever other torture he puts us through during his waking hours, night-time is heaven. I’d do it again, but it really, really hurt for a short time, at the time.

  29. Does the book point out the fact that many 12 week olds have a physiological NEED to eat more often, and that forcing them to sleep for 12 straight hours can lead to failure to thrive? Or that for breastfeeding mothers that 12 hours of not nursing can lead to mastitis and other complications?
    Really, 12 hours of sleep may seem like a good goal for a parent, but it’s not really about the parent at that point, is it? It’s about the actual NEEDS of the child.
    This book may work for some parents, and some children, but it’s certainly not a manual for all kids. Read it with a grain of salt, and then do what is best for you and your child.

  30. Also, #3, the Ferber method is controversial because it is awful. The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked it to failure to thrive, and under no circumstances recommend it.
    It also runs contrary to EVERYTHING we know about the psychological development of children. Erickson, the leading thinker on human development, tells us that newborns are in the developmental state of “trust vs. mistrust” and that they need to learn to trust those around them for normal development to happen. The ferber method of denying care to an infant in need teaches them that they cannot trust those around them to meet their needs, and they then never progress beyond this stage into the next. That is, they spend their lives wrestling with issues of trust.

  31. Having not read this book, I can’t say much directly about its potential effects on breastfeeding. But as a doula and breastfeeding educator, I would debate with anyone who says that you can set any feeding schedule you want and your breasts will adjust accordingly. Some people’s might, but many women have more sensitive supply/demand responses and can lose supply very quickly if they’re not doing frequent feeds. It can be very challenging and frustrating (for both mom and baby) to get supply back up once it’s down, and can start a downward spiral towards giving up before planned. I’d always err on the side of caution when working with any system that suggests you schedule your baby’s feeding or try to eliminate/reduce feeds. You don’t want to gain sleep time only to lose it to pumping and supplementing.

  32. Anybody that insists that there’s no way to raise a child that’s healthier than the way’ve they’ve done it is just contributing to the problem. Parents are being fed with ridiculous amounts of information overload, oftentimes conflicting, and almost all of it with the conditional message, “If you don’t take care of your child this way, not only are you the worst parent in the world, but your child will hate you and the world is a sadder place for that.”

    The stress this brings to a set of people that are already in one of the more stressful periods of their life is criminal.

    These kinds of discussions drive me absolutely nuts. There’s no right way other than what works for you. Feel free to read the books and gather the data- experiment and see if it feels right. If other parents would be able to be more giving of their tips, and more reserved with their sanctimonious attitudes, I think things would be a lot easier for new parents. Parenting advice seems to always turn into a “you’re doing it wrong” criticism fest that I absolutely hate.

    (Anybody that wants to critisize my wife and I for delivering via c-section, using forumla, and not co-sleeping is welcome to commence now. Bear in mind that we had twins, the first child was breech, my wife’s milk never fully came in, and co-sleeping with two infants is a proposition that very few of you have managed to try. So circumstances are always different, and there’s no one-size-fits all.)

  33. Another vote for natural childbirth, attachment parenting, baby wearing in a Maya Wrap sling, co-sleeping, and most importantly nursing on demand. Babies are not supposed to sleep through the night, babies are supposed to nurse every few hours. All this from a stay-at-home-dad and his amazing radical nursing, working/pumping wife.

  34. Throwing my vote in for the co-sleeping / nursing-on-demand method. It’s easily done safely. I’d like to point out that the main study that shows the ~dangers~ of co-sleeping was sponsered by the Juveile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) – you know, the companies that make cribs! Also, there was a Harvard study that shows how unnecessary crying harms the brain permanently and makes it hard to cope with stress as an adult:

  35. @#7 popvoi

    A-Ha! And I presume you are one of the pleasant travelers that scowl at parents with babies on planes. Always a pleasure to walk by your bitter sneer with my child in arms.

    @#29 BettyWu

    if you really are interested, contact your local DCFS or child welfare department. They can show you the pictures of children who have suffocated or been crushed in bed with their parents.

    WTF are you talking about? The child welfare department has pictures of has pictures of children suffocated by co-sleeping? That’s insane. Child welfare departments don’t waste their time and money on this issue because it is NOT an actual safety issue. Are you are referring to the one crack-pot county in Florida?

  36. First rule of baby-raising advice: Not all methods work for all babies. I take particular offense with your statement “does not involve doing anything horrible to your kid like letting her cry all night”. Perhaps crying all night is a bit extreme, but we nap-trained our boy during his daytime naps and after a couple of cry-filled days, he learned to put himself to sleep, which is really what you’re after here. Many friends and strangers remark at what a happy, attentive, smart, & emotionally well-adjusted boy he is, and we attribute most all of that to his quality sleep schedule (the rest is from not having cable tv).

    The notion that letting your baby cry is “horrible” is quite misinformed, as long as it is not crying out of hunger, poopiness or illness (and every parent should quickly learn to recognize the differences). A baby’s cry is generally reflexive and nearly autonomic (meaning they don’t actively control it). They are not “mad” at you and won’t resent you in later life for doing this.

  37. @ #29 I’m not saying co-sleeping doesn’t work for a lot of people and can’t be a safe, nurturing alternative. However, you do your argument no service by turning a blind eye to the real concerns and dangers that are there.

    Nobody has to take my word for what they feel is safe or unsafe for their own kids. I know there are all kinds of unfortunate accidents happening to babies. However, when looking at all the numbers: Sudden infant death syndrom killed in average 4250 infants per year (1990-1997) while during the same period, 65 infants died while sleeping with their parents (from reasons other than SIDS or underlying health problems: some crushed, some suffocating on water beds, others falling off the bed). I can’t see these numbers being extremely different 10 years later, but I’ll be more than happy to know if it is the case.

    From this, I find it is unfair to all the parents out there who sleep with their children to imply that they are endangering them when there is no statistic to show that it is, indeed, any more dangerous that any other method.

    But it was not meant to be personally directed at individual parents who rather not have their baby sleep with them, for whatever reason.

  38. Shouldn’t you be more concerned about your habit of sticking an 8-month-old into a plane whenever it suits your plans? What strikes me most is that no one besides a single colorful comment seems to criticize that. No wait, it’s apparently totally acceptable to write about political change, copyfight issues and whatnot bt nt vn cnsdrng t grw bynd bsc cmfrt qstns.

  39. The main issue I have here is the promise of idealized sleep in such a short time frame. It may work for some (sounds like it did for Cory) but it’s just not going to work for everyone.

    There’s a reason there’s so many different methods, and it’s silly that so many of them pretend to be right for all babies. It’s a recipe for frustration. (And, I suppose, book sales.)

    Particularly, be wary of anyone who claims that you have to do it their way or else your child will be ruined for life.

  40. As the soon to be father (any day now) of a baby boy I do believe I’ll be getting this book. Amazon should give you a commission or something.

  41. #36 – Right on! Very well said. My wife had an emergency c-section after a very difficult 32 hour labor, and her milk also did not fully come in. I, too, am sick of people who spout personal opinion and/or experience in the guise of knowledge.

    We lived near Berkeley and the radical, Earth-mother eco-parenting Nazis who live there were relentless. My wife was aggressively verbally assaulted on multiple occasions while still pregnant about what a terrible person she would be if she didn’t breast feed for at least 3 years. Then there were the “let the baby ‘find’ himself” crowd that has completely eschewed discipline and structure in their kids’ lives for fear they are stunting their development, but all they are doing is creating more spoiled monsters.

    How f-in stupid are people, especially women who have actually given birth, who presume to know what is best for everybody.

  42. Not being a parent, I’m not going to enter the minefield of opinions about this, but I will say this: the oldest of my three nephews began sleeping through the night fairly early on; the second never did.

    That’s right, never.

    He’s a teenager now, and he gets up in the middle of the night and plays video games for an hour until he feels sleepy again. They never got him to sleep through the night, but they DID teach him not to wake anyone else!

    I guess that goes on the “every kid is different” side, though actually I have no idea what methods their parents used with them.

  43. For the overly insistent “What do you mean, parents CRUSH their babies in bed?-no way!” people out there, yeah, it happens. Not very often (and, most of the time, the crushers are drunk or stoned when it happens), but it does happen.

    Try something sensible – if you are a really heavy sleeper, don’t sleep with a baby in bed with you. Our daughter slept with us a few times as an infant, but I’m a horribly light sleeper. I got next-to-no sleep at all on those particular nights. She slept in a crib in our bedroom until she was seven months old and in her own room thereafter. That worked fine.

    Our daughter was a few weeks premature. However, she was sleeping eight hours a night by the time she was four months old, and about eleven hours a night by the time she was six months old. I don’t think she ever did twelve hours a night, but that was fine!

  44. Another vote for co-sleeping, baby-wearing, on-demand nursing et al. We’ve done all this and all the info I’ve read seems to make sense.

    At the same time, I think @36 has a point. But I think the point goes for all camps. And because in the US at least 95% of parents are not into these more alternative ways, what tends to happen is the minority feels embattled and that they need to defend their position more against 9/10 around them who look at them funny and make disparaging comments. I can attest to this personally because whenever I’m with my friends who are more into these natural ways, I don’t think I ever hear them bringing up what mainstream folk do and how it’s horrible or anything like this, however, half the time I’m at a party with my “mainstream” friends, inevitably there’s some clod who says “women who try to have a natural birth are crazy!”

    In general, I think one should look at all the positions and choose which makes most sense for you and your family. If you simply can’t manage to do some things you otherwise think you should because of circumstances out of your control, then so be it, and don’t feel guilty because you are doing what you can. Unfortunately in the US parents don’t get the support around maternity/paternity leave that other countries do, and we have lots of working mom’s that can’t even pump due to employer’s restrictions. Of course we have things much better than other countries who don’t have ANY maternity leave at all, but in any case, the point is that you do what you can.

    Our society is very judgmental and parenting seems to be the real hot-spot for this because what are people more sensitive about than the way they raise their kids???

  45. Skarbreeze @5, it might work. Some infants naturally sleep through the night. It seems plausible to me that other infants might be assisted in learning to naturally sleep through the night.

    Patrick Austin @20:

    I’m sure this book’s method works, but that doesn’t make it damaging to spend two or three nights letting a child choke on their own tears in a gentle/gradual way. In my experience, the ones who suffer from kids crying themselves to sleep are parents, not babies.

    You and Cory aren’t talking about the same thing. You’re talking about parents toughing out some relatively limited bedtime crying spells, not all-night woe-I-am-abandoned fits of sobbing.

    Noen @21, you just keep smiling.

    Benediktus @22:

    babies are in desperate need of food in their first months, even in the middle of the night.

    Look again at Cory’s entry:

    Over a remarkably short period Poesy fell into a natural schedule that has her sleeping through the night almost every night. … [G]iving Poesy a good night’s sleep every night has made her happier, more alert and more playful during the day.

    That doesn’t sound to me like a child with a “desperate need for food” that’s going unaddressed. This regimen works just fine for Poesy, and she’s happy and healthy.

    i think it’s wrong to proclaim sleep-though as #1 goal for a newborn to be trained to. if it works for your family – that’ ok. but by telling und asking everyone with babies about sleeping through you hassle those families that want it to do it their way. do you know how often i’ve been asked if my kid is “already” sleeping through? those questioners alway seem bewildered if you say “no, but that’s fine”. what a dogma.

    None of that has happened here. All Cory said was that this system really works for them. He didn’t say it was the #1 goal for a newborn. Neither he nor anyone else here has hassled you, or said you were wrong. It hasn’t been presented as dogma.

    No one needs to feel put down. It’s just information.

    Subtle Turtle @33, I’m going to point out the same text in Cory’s entry to you, only more emphatically. Poesy is not an unattended-to child with unmet needs. Neither is she being “forced” to do anything. This regimen works for her. Do please take a step back, and ratchet down the volume a few notches.

  46. Sleeping! Yes, I remember doing that! Used to last for hours, I recall. What would happen was–you’d go to bed, close your eyes, and then you’d enter a sort of ‘not-awake’ time, which was very relaxing. During it, all the cares of the day would vanish; you’d open your eyes next morning and everything would seem just a little bit easier to bear.

    Since my wife and I had children, I feel that my life is a bit like the existence outlined in ‘I am Legend’. The days are quite nice, but the nights are a horrible, never-ending battle against evil. Ha, ha! It sounds like I’m exaggerating! Doesn’t it? Doesn’t it sound like I’m exaggerating?!

    Please help us.

  47. Perhaps the hardest thing about discussing parenting is that there’s so many damn theories out there, and once a particular method works for us, it’s hard not to be convinced that we’ve found “THE” way to parent (and by association, secretly feel that anyone who doesn’t find “our” method equally rewarding must be “doing it wrong” or misguided.).

    Like a lot of things, Parenting is like my grandmother’s kitchen clock. She loved that old thing, and if some days it works best on it’s side, it’s back, or upside-down, well, heck, it kept decent time, and it worked.
    Parenting is that way. What works for one family and child may not work for the next child, or another family.
    It basically boils down to this:
    Is the Parent happy and functioning?
    Is the child happy and functioning?
    Is the MARRIAGE happy and functioning?

    Can your kid leave the home without being a holy terror? Does he/she have developmentally appropriate social skills and manners that make her/him welcomed back to homes, restaurants, classrooms?

    Are you keeping up at work and home and able to have time to talk/cuddle/have sex with your spouse without the kids interrupting?

    Okay then. If everyone’s getting enough sleep, able to function, and there’s enough consistency and discipline to make sure that the kid becomes a pleasant, happy and productive member of society
    – Congratulations! Whatever you are doing works!

  48. @#48: I’m not sure if it’s possible to have a ‘majority’ in the baby-raising theory battlefield. A minor plurality, maybe.

    And the criticism towards childbirth/rearing appears to happen anytime anybody meets somebody with a different experience than them. You may feel more that “mainstreamers” are on the constant attack towards the natural childbirth movement, but I can certainly attest to the fact that there have been plenty of mothers in the world that have very pointedly attempted to make my wife feel like less of a woman because of her birth experience. I can’t begin to describe how frustrated and angry this has made me feel at times.

    This discussion is almost a case in point:
    It started as a pretty benign comment about a book that Corey thought helped his family (he may have mentioned any obvious mental scarring on the part of his daughter prior to reccomending it, by the way), and this very quickly turned into an argumentative discussion about how if you’re not co-sleeping (or putting your kid in a cardboard box and leaving them outside at night in order to toughen them up), you’re totally doing it wrong.

  49. @ #45 posted by Xopher:

    See if you can get the kid into a sleep clinic – I had the same problem, and it turned out this kind of waking was caused by sleep apnea, which has caused a WHOLE other slew of problems. Might want to at least get it checked out.

    (Interesting fact: there’s also a suggestion that SIDS may be related to sleep apnea)

  50. @54, yes, that’s why I said this is true for all sides of the debate. There are insensitive people of every political and cultural stripe and sensative ones too. I do believe, though, that the natural birthing/parenting group is in the minority in most communities throughout the US, save for a few very “progressive” enclaves, and so in general you will hear more people mocking a minority opinion. It’s also been my experience even in a place where there’s s considerable number of more naturally-oriented folks. That being said, because we are of that ilk, we haven’t had the opportunity to experience what your wife did and I can totally understand how it makes you feel, and how inappropriate and judgemental it is. As I said, parenting is one of those hot-button issues. I’ve even heard one thing mentioned recently on a listserv that was in the same vein, but luckily the folks (all natural birth/parenting-oriented) took this one individual to task for their judgemental attitude and it stopped right there. This is a lot easier to do over time on a mailing list than when you’re in the moment at a party and there’s possibly alcohol involved and objecting to something makes you look like a killjoy.

    Probably Cory was not quite anticipating the firestorm that can be caused simply by offering experience of a book that tackles a particular approach to something that is a subject of difficulty for many parents.

  51. Same boat as you, Graham. I recall many nights with the three of us in tears. And for everyone, if you want to peek into the most extreme parenting community (that I have found anyway), check out the discussions at (Mothering.commune) where just mentioning that you are thinking about CIO, bottle feeding, disposable diapers, separate sleeping, etc., will very nearly get you banned. Very interesting reading. hugs!

  52. Cory was aware of things like mommy drive-by wars well before Poesy was conceived.

  53. @#51 BUDDY66

    According to all the studies I could find, there were much less cases of SIDS among babies sleeping with their parents than in cribs.

    But in either cases (sleeping with or without), there didn’t seem to be enough deaths to determine that either option is especially dangerous.

  54. I had (have?) two sets of twins. I didn’t know that they were considered “difficult” by others. I thought it was just me and my wife…

    They’re 23 and 18 right now.

  55. and this very quickly turned into an argumentative discussion about how if you’re not co-sleeping (or putting your kid in a cardboard box and leaving them outside at night in order to toughen them up), you’re totally doing it wrong.

    Funny that I don’t see that at all. I saw several people expressing interest and respect in the options portrayed in the book, then voicing why they might or might not choose it for themselves.

    Most people defending co-sleeping aren’t calling you or anyone else a terrible parent: They are facing a lot of stigma and judgement themselves, according to the ‘crushing death’ fears. And Cory might not feel comfortable letting his daughter cry unattended for a long time, and he is offering options for people in his situation. You might have encountered militant, control freak parents and verbally assaulting your wife is totally unacceptable. But it doesn’t seem to be the tone here.

    Can we have conversations and different opinions about anything remotely important without someone getting personally offended? This is going to get boring in a hurry if we all just clam up and nod.

  56. I’m glad Poesy sleeps well. But I wouldn’t put it down to the book. Some babies just do. My (breast-fed) son slept at least 11 hours a night, unbroken, from about 8 weeks old. Except when he was ill, this happened every night without fail.

    I take no credit for it whatsoever. He just did it himself. By the same token, I don’t assume that there is anything that parents could do better or differently if their baby doesn’t sleep through the night much older than average.

  57. #59
    Jimbuck- I’d check with the Missus before going into the “Childbirth for Literary Criticism” business…she might demand a considerable advance for the project!

    Thank the PTB (Powers that Be) for Boingers with a sense of humor….

  58. #58 Styrofoam-
    BTW- Thanks for that comment, Styrofoam.
    My Husband and I have just started trying, and I’ve already had that very same experience with judgmental attitudes from other women.

    It’s really sad that all these conflicting theories and medical resources seem to be making a lot of women feel like “failures” instead of causing rejoicing for the many lives (of both mothers and babies) that are saved instead.

    I’ve decided that I am going to treat any and all inquiries about the birth with Emily Post’s recommenced, “How kind of you to ask!” or
    “What method did YOU choose” (which is really what the questioner wants to yap about ANYWAY).

    Or maybe I’ll just ask them to freshen up my gin and tonic before I get called in to nurse again….(evil grin)

  59. We cosleep. She slept with us in the hospital for 72 hours, only going to the nursery when her billi count went high.

    She’s a year old last Saturday, and she’s great. Her 8yo sister did it, and so did her 15yo brother.

    We haven’t smashed her, dropped her, accidentally caused her to be run over by herbdbeasts or anything the scare mongers have warned of, but of course it’s not for everyone.

    Although we’re both rather heavy sleepers we’ve got a plan and we stick to it. She’s a doula I am a diaper assistant with a penchant for my new toddling daughter who likes thai food and has a broader palate at 12mos than I had until 12 years.

    Congrats to those of you who try; foetusnail cheers to you & your apparently devired-from-amazon-stick wife, bloke- moms like that are the heroines of humanity. My partner did it this summer at work with 20 hour workdays- imagine putting vise-grips on your nipples and doing heavy lifting.

    They are the best, those moms.

  60. For the record, Poesy not only thrived on four feeds a day after four months, but she’s the biggest, roundest baby at the nursery — a chubby, bright-eyed cutesicle who weighs in at a good 12kg at the 8 month mark.

  61. As a pediatrician, I think the real answer to this issue lies with the immature brains. I see parents who report all variations of this, but in general, most babies start sleeping more of the night after 3 months. Many scientists believe this corresponds with a neurological maturity of the circadian rhythm.

    Parents will try adding rice formula to the night bottles but this has been shown not to make a difference. Remember, what “worked” for your baby may just be a correlation. Many comments have noted one child did this and the other did that which underscores the point that all babies are different, even those raised in quite similar circumstances.

    I have never read this book but would caution people to let brains develop and perhaps save some money. Colic and sleeping thru the night both are big issues that resolve with time but I sympathize with parents dealing with both issues.

  62. When it’s time, try “Potty Training In A Day” – unfortunately I can’t remember which one of these my ex-wife used. I think it was the Crane and Caravella book but here’s a list on Amazon

    (this was back in about 1980 so forgive me)

    Whichever one it was, it did work. No dolls or DVDs/videos were required, either.

  63. Another vote for they come out as unique individuals, so don’t assume what worked (or didn’t) on the first one will be the right choice for any subsequent siblings.

    To this day, my children’s natural rhythms remain true to how they were as babies, and very different from each other. Both are healthy and happy. They’re just different when it comes to sleep issues. (And everything else.)

  64. All very good points by many concerned readers. I just wanted to chime in that early on, I noticed my son was sensitive and may be overstimulated by co-sleeping or too much input in general, and I decided to do a gradual “cry it out” at around 4 months, with great success. Basically, as soon as I left him alone for a couple of minutes he got to sleep! I always waited until he was good and groggy and ready to go down, not looking at the clock, and he’s always slept pretty well. We never left him for more than 7-10 minutes of crying (time it, it seems like an hour!) and good luck to all the new parents!

  65. I hate you.

    Our kid spent 6 months getting her sleep schedule together and eventually she did it. Now she sleeps like a rock. but back then, hooo boy.

    Wish I’d known about this. Woulda saved me many hours of groggyness.

  66. Thanks Cory- we need this book more than we need oxygen right now..

    Tom & Rachel (and Harry, 12 weeks old now)

  67. SEKINO,

    The reason I asked about co-sleeping and SIDS is that the nature of primates is for infants to cling to their mothers. It seems, well, unnatural to separate the two; and that would be reflected in a higher death rate for the separated newborns; the younger they are, the higher percentage of SIDS.

    I have neither the inclination nor the skills to research this, but if my hunch is right, it could be VERY important. If I am wrong, then it is just another of my half-baked ideas, of which I have had many. What is nagging at me, however, is the fear that nobody’s ever done the numbers.

    The critical question would be: Is the rate of SIDS higher among “isolated” babies than among co-sleeping babies? Or, even scarier: Do co-sleeping babies even die of SIDS?

    I have no experience in pediatrics, except for some desultory child-rearing. I’m just a failed anthropologist who knows more about primitive cultures and extinct primate species than I do my own. I hope I’m just being a fool and can come across the studies and the figures to prove my foolishness. Then I, for one, will at least sleep better.

  68. @ BUDDY66

    Since you are an anthropologist, you probably have far more scientific knowledge about humans than I do: I can only rely on statistics and logic.

    But I tend to lean towards co-sleeping exactly for the reason you mention. I would think that babies, much like other primates, have to constantly rely on their instincts since they have no language skills and can’t totally comprehend their environment at that stage. You can’t explain to the baby that you are in the next room, that you are away only for the night. It’s not being fussy when it cries; it reacts to alarm and the unknown the only way it can.

    But regarding SIDS: From the studies I have found, it seems indeed that most babies who die from SIDS sleep in cribs. However, the precise cause remains unknown (it has been linked to anything from sleep apnea, to overheating, to serotonin imbalance…), so it is not fair to say that having a baby sleep in a crib IS the cause either. It remains largely a mystery.

  69. Xopher,

    I ditto tyhe advice to have your child’s sleep problem investigated though I don’t know that much can be done. Still, better to know what you are up against.

    Some kids just have a problem getting to sleep. But others get night terrors or some of the other parasomnias which include sleepwalking and even confusional arousal which can be best envisioned as a sleep tantrum that goes on for 45 minutes -every single night -for years in our son’s case (ages 2-7).

    Doctors were, unfortunately, useless. They all said “He’ll grow out of it”, along with other verbiage that sounded so eerily alike that I looked into the literature and actually found the paragraph in a Ferber book they all must have read in Med school.

    After a few years of searching I read about two experimental techniques 1)wake him up 15 min before it happens (it happened like clockwork, almost to the exact minute) and 2) Benadryl or other antihistamine. #1 kinda worked once in a while. #2 ended it. If I stopped the antihistamines it came back. Not a big problem because he also has allergies. The doctors thought I was fooling myself when I told them about the antihistamines. (They’d never heard of it, ergo, it couldn’t have worked.)

    Later he also developed sleepwalking at 5yrs old that lasted a couple of years(and we developed sleep deprivation worrying he was going to leave the house!). Now at 17 he often simply cannot get to sleep at night and sleeps at odd hours. I don’t know if this will ever “go away”.

    Anyway, thought I’d just give you an heads up on our experience in case it helps and I wish you and your son all the luck!

  70. Co-sleeping alone is not likely a strong risk factor for SIDs. The concerns for co-sleeping are crushing the infant. This is my biggest concern in the days after a painful delivery requiring pain meds. Even the exhaustion of the labor process is worrisome in the first few days.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement does not include bed sharing as a risk factor:

    “The following have been consistently identified across studies as independent risk factors for SIDS:prone sleep position, sleeping on a soft surface, maternal smoking during pregnancy, overheating, late or no prenatal care, young maternal age, preterm birth and/or low birth weight, and male gender. Consistently higher rates are found in black and American Indian/Alaska Native children— 2 to 3 times the national average.”

    However, a study called “Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Following the Prevention Campaign in New Zealand: A Prospective Study” states in the abstract:

    “After adjustment for potential confounders,prone and side sleeping positions, maternal smoking, and the joint exposure to bed sharing and maternal smoking were associated with statistically significant increased risk of SIDS. A change from the side to the supine sleeping position could result in a substantial reduction in SIDS. Maternal smoking is common in New Zealand and with the reduction in the prevalence of prone sleeping position is now the major risk factor in this country. However, smoking behavior has been difficult to change. Bed sharing is also a major factor but appears only to be a risk to infants of mothers who smoke. Addressing bed sharing among mothers who smoke could reduce SIDS by at least one third.

    Finally, there is an article I cannot actually find but is titled “Mitchell EA, Thompson JMD. Co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS, but sleeping in the parents bedroom lowers it.”

  71. So IAMAD or a mom but – I was born 2 months premature and the doctor recommended I sleep on one of my parents to prevent sids. (quite literally on my dad’s chest) The theory was, that if I could hear breath and a heart beat, I would remember to breathe – and if I stopped breathing my parents instinct would wake them up so they could wake me. From what I have read babies don’t die of sids when they co-sleep. I remember sleeping with my parent and I am so thankful for that safe warm place I had with them. It’s one of my best memories.

  72. #80 reverenddrjice
    Excellent data!
    I would also like to add (I’m too sleepy to look up the article) that there’s been a higher correlation of SIDS in homes where there’s been flooding or water damage (cluster of SIDS in flooded homes in Philly, I believe).
    My field is Public Health, so safe housing, parent ed. about this sort of thing is my profession.
    It should also be of note that Charlemagne banned co-sleeping during his reign because of the amount of infants crushed/smothered while sleeping with their mothers. Since there was no forensics, autopsies or treatment for post-partum depression in those days, there’s no telling what proportion of those deaths were intentional/caused by maternal delusions/or SIDS, but there’s your historical evidence of problems with co-sleeping.
    Or even further back, try the Old testament:
    “Two women came to King Solomon and stood before him. One woman said: “My Lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while with her in the house. On the third day after I gave birth, she also gave birth. We live together; there is no outsider with us in the house; only the two of us were there. The son of this woman died during the night because she lay upon him”.”
    I think hook-on co-sleepers where the babies have their own safe pillow and adult-free space are dandy. But to share the bed in general may not be as safe.

  73. Perspective from an parent of older child

    1) “Everyone Sleeps”

    I belonged to a listserv of mothers who were all due in the same month, and one of the members said “In our house, the rule is ‘everyone sleeps'” and they would do what they could to achieve that goal. This meant changing what they were doing from time to time as the children grew in number and grew in age. I thought she was wise and adopted it as my motto too.

    So – do what you can to keep everyone happy and healthy – for some that means a “family bed” until the kids hit puberty, for others that may mean various types of sleep guidance or sleep training and separate beds or separate rooms at different ages. For others co-sleeping until X months and then gradual moving to own space; or sleeping on their own until X months when they seem to need more company. YMMV.

    2) Sleep needs continue in primary and secondary school

    My kids are now 12 and 10 years old. I still guard their sleep – make sure they get enough. One child needs more sleep than the other and becomes very cranky and difficult when sleep deprived. Kids of 9 years or older are able to understand the idea of “sleep deficit” and notice the difference they feel when they’ve had enough sleep and when they haven’t.

    Making sure they have enough time for sleep is difficult. You have to help them be on top of their home-work so they don’t end up staying up past midnight to finish things. It’s also hard for us sometimes, because a lot of kids in HK stay up past 11pm, even when they are very young. But I really think it’s worth it help them get enough sleep, to help their physical, mental, and emotional health.

  74. SEKINO,

    I said I was a failed anthropologist (rejected dissertation). Besides, I am a cultural anthropologist, and we are barely recognized as scientists, although the best of us employ the scientific method in our work.

    I mentioned primate behavior because of the universal clinging of newborns to the mother. That’s why I suspicioned that separation was unwise and maybe could be a factor in SIDS. As I said, it was a sudden idea….


    Thank you for responding. The quoted passages, however, are somewhat confusing. Emphasis is placed on the mother’s prenatal smoking as a factor in SIDS, presumably the consequence of some sort of poisoning absorbed by baby while in the womb. But then there is the latter observation, “Bed sharing is also a major factor but appears only to be a risk to infants of mothers who smoke.” How could that be, I wonder? If it means mothers who still smoke, then baby’s breathing smoke while bed sharing is also a factor. So then, mother’s smoking both before and after birth is dangerous. I wish they’d made that clear. It ties SIDS in with tobacco and exonerates co-sleeping.

    If bed sharing appears to be a risk ONLY with mothers who smoke, and co-sleeping is NOT a factor in SIDS, then, NONE of the 4,000 plus SIDS deaths a year are the result of co-sleeping with non-smoking mothers. This seems to be a very important piece of information.

    In fact, it’s so important that it tempts me to propose that co-sleeping is the safest place for baby to be, and that separation and isolated sleeping for the very young can be downright dangerous.

    Of course I need the studies and the numbers. I’ll try to find Thompson’s paper. It certainly has a confident enough title. If he’s got the figures, it blows my hunch out of the water.

    I think I’ll look around some more and see what turns up.

    #81 AGF,

    That doctor just might have saved your life. Maybe SIDS is just forgetting how to breathe, and being next to a large, breathing adult acts as a kind of reminder.

    Thanks, guys.

  75. #41 – They keep photos as part of the forensic evidence and they use them in trainings. I know because they show them to social workers in training and continuing education sessions.

    As has been said eloquently here by many, don’t assume that someone who makes a different choice is crazy/going to hell/abusing their child. My comment was very straightforward. Many people make the choice to co-sleep and it works out beautifully for them and hurray for that! I just don’t understand why you can’t make the choice and praise the benefits without acknowledging there can be issues.

    It’s not INSANE!!!! or LUDICRIOUS!!!! it happens. Some kids die; from too much bedding, from crushing or probably most often, from rolling between the bed and the wall or side table. I’m not saying, nor did my original post say, that nobody should ever co-sleep. What I said was there can be dangers. Plan for them, be aware of them, educate yourself and others about them.

    Why is that so scary? Do you not tell people to wear a seat belt because then they might think that being in a car is unsafe and never ever drive one?

  76. We had read The Continuum concept by Jean Liedloff which determined much of the infant rearing that we did. Not of course for everyone and certainly not easy to do in Western society. We were living in Hawaii and as many of the Hawaiians seemed to me to be some of the most loving and kind people that I had lived among, we wanted to emulate their methods of rearing children as much as possible. This was in the 80’s.

    We put the mattresses on the floor so if they did roll off they would not have far to fall. Otherwise most nights my daughters in the first few weeks slept on my wife’s chest. This did not disturb her surprisingly enough. When they wanted to feed they did so without waking her more than a few minutes at a time. Sometimes my daughter would roll on to my chest but I would very carefully disengage her and put her back near to my wife. I found it very difficult to sleep with the dead weight of a sleeping child.

    As I liked to potter around in the mornings we would let our daughter stay up until she went to bed sometimes after midnight. My wife usually went to bed around 10 pm and would wake briefly when my daughter would crawl in to feed. Many times I would get up in the night to go to the bathroom and find my daughter curled up in a ball on the floor! She rarely awoke when I put her back into the bed.

    Her late nights meant however that she often slept in to 10 am or so. Wonderful! Peace in the mornings and opportunities for a bit of lovemaking. Many times other couples would wonder with co-sleeping how one found time and opportunity for intimacy. Many Hawaiians rarely had more more than one room for sleeping and they certainly had a much more intimate life than we did in the West.

    Many times we met mothers who had a very painful birth and for some weeks afterwords sleep was fitful and quite disturbed. In order to mitigate this if at all possible the mother’s partner, if she has one, might need to cuddle the infant as much as he/she can.

    For the future much of this can be prevented if when the labouring mother is stimulated into fight or flight, as most mothers unfortunately are, she beats some pillows strenuously for some time until she has discharged the adrenaline which is inhibiting birth. Once the adrenaline has been discharged labour will usually resume without further need for intervention and a fairly stress and pain free birth will occur.
    This of course supposes that the mother is healthy and no pre-conditions will conflict with that.

    I managed to test this discovery on about 200 pregnant women who came to our house after reading about the baby sling that I had designed for my daughter Fonda. They wanted to try on and purchase a sling. As pregnant women do they wanted to know what my wife’s birth experience had been. When she told them about discharging the adrenaline they were fascinated and decided to try it. In the 80’s in Hawaii and in California there was quite a large number of women exploring different ways of giving birth, mainly at home and it was fairly easy for them to try any new methods that would help.

    About 20 women were unable to let go and allow their feelings to be discharged and beat the pillows. They were mainly Asian and had been reared to be fairly stoical. So it was not a success with them. Of course it would be quite difficult with a hospital delivery to do this, many physicians we found had a problem with overt displays of emotion. That was a pity I felt.

    Now please don’t assume that I am suggesting everyone should do this or somehow you are delinquent in not trying to rear a child in the way we did. It gave us as a family, contentment and increased intimacy. For the first ten years it was great but after that it went rather pear shaped I am afraid. The demands of a Western culture did not sit well with the experiences and experiments of attempting to emulate earlier cultures. Perhaps now that the economics have disrupted the beliefs and practices of present day living, some families may achieve a happier life for them and their families. I hope so.

  77. @ BETTYWU

    Again, you seem to take my comment personally: I said that the disseminated fear of co-sleeping was ludicrous. Fear, in my lexicon, does not stand for common sense, desire for information or rational education. I meant fear as in unbased collective hysteria which, in my book, is always ludicrous. Therefore, I was referring to people who tend to drop everything the minute they hear the word ‘dangerous’ and refuse to consider, or even educate themselves, about a perfectly sound practice because of the ‘D’ word (and that’s a surprising amount of people). I apologize if this wasn’t clear from my first post.

    @ BUDDY66

    At least, you studied anthropology, which has a lot more to do with behaviours than my degrees in gemology and visual arts ;)


    Thanks for the great info! The link between SIDS and cigarette is very interesting. I am a bit baffled by the higher occurence in African American and American Indian/Alaska Native children.

  78. AGF @ #81 (and others):

    I have read numerous studies on the subject, and that seems to be the general assumption. No proof of causation yet, but the idea seems to be that hearing and feeling a parent’s biorhythms helps jumpstart the baby’s if/when they get off-track for a moment. Also, the fact that baby and parent sleep lighter when together, and thus are more likely to wake up if something is amiss. This is the real concern about co-sleeping when there is drug or alcohol use: sleeping too deeply and being unable to wake up quickly and naturally when needed.

    I’ve also read a few intriguing studies that suggest there are longer term medical concerns with putting a baby down alone. My memory is fuzzy here, but I’m pretty certain asthma was one of the conditions that seems to be of higher incidence with children who had not co-slept when younger. Can’t remember what the controls were: perhaps families who co-sleep have higher income and thus safer home construction, etc. Again, no confirmed explanation yet available.

    Interestingly, the original term for SIDS was “crib death” (“cot death” in Britain). Countries where parents don’t put babies to bed in separate rooms don’t seem to have the problem of SIDS. However, that could be due to differences in reporting. No definitive proof there.

    Still, as so many posters have pointed out, there’s something very unnatural about putting a newborn into a separate room alone for 8-12 hours at a time. Even if it results in more sleep for the parents at the time, does it come at a long term medical or psychological cost?

  79. “Still, as so many posters have pointed out, there’s something very unnatural about putting a newborn into a separate room alone for 8-12 hours at a time. Even if it results in more sleep for the parents at the time, does it come at a long term medical or psychological cost?”

    I think that the cost that can happen is an unwillingness to share space with others. In Bali, the Pacific Islands, and many other cultures that I have lived in, the concept of “I need my space” is unknown. Right from birth one shares. This has of course as many ramifications including the ability to be intimate and tolerant of differences. Also most cultures where a high degree of intimacy develops, they have very few of the problems that bedevil us in the developed countries.

    They do develop other problems but lack of intimacy is not one of them. I remember sitting at an outside cafe in Laos. It was my first visit and the Laotions had a new road built by the Chinese. Before that metaled roads were rare, most were dirt tracks and had no street lighting.

    So most evenings it was quite hazardous to go on the roads at night. I noticed that I had become an object of curiosity. All the many motorcyclists with their burdens of three children clinging to the back, sometimes laden as well with very large loads would slow down and peer at me. Now by then they had become used to tourists and I wondered why I was the subject of so much curiosity.

    When I spoke to the cafe owner, who was French and asked what was up, he told me that they were looking to see how mad I was! Apparently in their culture only madmen would eat by themselves and that was also pretty rare. Most were cared for by family. I thought that was very kind and in many ways an advance on our system of treating the insane apart from their families. So I started to wave and smile at them and what a transformation! Little bows from the adults, cheeky grins and the most gorgeous smiles from the older children. It was most heartening. I found them a delightful people although they were suffering from dreadful poverty.

    The usual problems that we suffer from such as crime, drug abuse etc., was largely absent. In both loas and Bali drug taking by the inhabitants was virtually unknown. Tourists of course were a different matter. Many an evening I was offered a chunk of raw opium at a ridiculously low price but my turning them down was always graciously received.

    That will change of course as civilization gradually enters their country. In the last ten years in Bali anaesthetics are being made available to labouring mothers. with all their attendant problems of the possibility of imprinting the new generation with the need to seek drugs when they hit the stresses and strains of puberty

  80. I forgot to mention, that in all my visits to Bali and other cultures where children are carried fairly constantly, infants do not burp, sick up or need to be patted on the back to bring up wind. I think that has probably due to the absence of stress in the carrier, at least when they are carrying the infant. I did try to pat my first born but she didn’t like being put over my shoulder to do it. So I stopped.

  81. Buddy66 et al –

    My kids were born in the 80s, and like most of my friends’ kids slept in the family bed until they chose to stop, breastfed until they chose to stop, carried everywhere until they chose to stop, home educated until they chose to stop – and if I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing.

    However – a good friend of mine lost one of her children, in the family bed, at 8 weeks old. She was a non-drinking non-smoker.

  82. My oldest son was born in the dark ages when Ferber was new and all the rage. When he still wasn’t sleeping “through” by 11 months we gave Ferber a shot. Intense, high-pitched screams for hours every night for a week were bad enough. Trust me, we didn’t get any “restful” sleep. But one morning almost two weeks into faithful following of Ferber I went in to find my baby had spent the night vomiting all over himself, the crib, the floor and walls. That was enough for me. No, he never got into a good sleep pattern until he started kindergarten. Yes, it was exhausting and sometimes I wanted to bang my head against the wall. But it was better than listening to him scream. He’s grown now and I believe he has no problems sleeping. And these days I get all the sleep anybody ever needed. It all comes back around sooner than you think.

  83. Cory, Thank you so so so much for this book recommendation. We have read it and are implementing it with great success even on the first night!

    Our son is 21 months old (that’s 101 weeks without s having a full night’s sleep) and I wish I had heard of this book/method earlier. I will use it will the next child(ren) as well.

    Oh, and as for comment #7 from “Thalia” – breast fed babies can eat plenty during the day and enough to be satisfied. My son has never touched a bottle, and there was always plenty to satisfy him during the day.

  84. Very interesting comments thread. Just one addition: my daugther is three years old, and she has *never* slept 12 hours straight. Never. She also stopped napping during daytime really early. This was not because of some sleep problem, it’s just that she needs less sleep than others. There are children who need more, and children who need less.

    I would have gone crazy if I had worked towards the goal of making her sleep longer. As long as she’s happy, and we give her the opportunity to sleep as much as she needs, I think it’s fine.


  85. I have always thought of the sleep issue as “what is best for baby” versus “what is more convenient for parents”. Young babies need to eat throughout the night and need the reassurance/closeness of their parents.

    Trust your instincts as parents. If it does not feel right to let your baby cry, there is probably good reason.

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