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"Full of practical help…"
Sweet Sleep is a La Leche League publication, written by some of the well-known names in the LLL world, and as such it sets out a very definitely baby-centred philosophical position, as you might expect. It very nearly does manage to achieve a balanced tone with regard to the fact that not all families breastfeed, and even includes a chapter on how to cope if you don't have this powerful parenting tool available to you (adoptive families, for instance), but its subtitle clearly states “for the Breastfeeding Family” and this is where its real strength lies.
There is a wealth of advice available online, from health professionals, and among families and friends, for parents who want techniques to “train” their babies to sleep. Sweet Sleep fills a gap for the parents who want to work within their babies' normal development, with gentle nudges from stage to stage, but allowing for kind and responsive parenting.
Sweet Sleep is packed with practical suggestions, and sensibly begins with a chapter full of immediate ideas for getting more sleep tonight. It focuses straight away on the Safe Sleep Seven, which are rules for emergency bedsharing. Given that statistics show unplanned bedsharing to be far riskier than planned bedsharing, helping parents to plan for it is a really good place to start.
It goes on to explain normal sleep, drawing on anthropology, biology, and worldwide cultural practices. This is followed by safety information, gentle nudges for different ages and stages, and suggestions for different scenarios such as premature babies, twins and so on. The chapter on SIDS and suffocation is comprehensive and well-explained; and finally the book offers suggestions for talking to supportive and non-supportive people about an attachment parenting approach to coping with nights.
This book is well-referenced throughout, and illustrated with quotes from the authors' own stories and from other families. Once too often I found myself frustrated that the authors touch on a point and promise to explain it more in a later chapter, making me dip about in the book rather than reading it through as I wanted to. I was not particularly surprised that the section on Getting Help/Giving Help only mentions La Leche League, when there are quite a number of other organisations, including NCT, who could also support parents in these situations.
On the whole I found this book useful both in terms of practical help for parents of co-sleeping/breastfeeding babies, and ways of thinking/talking about risk and responsiveness, which I find a lot of new parents and parents-to-be worry about. It's good to have a book that supports parents to follow their instincts and find their own rhythms.
[Disclosure: the publishers gave me a free copy]Read moreLess
2 people found this review helpful.
"A Parents Must Have…"
This book is so easy to read with pearls of wisdom surrounded by evidence based practice. 7 steps to safe sleep with your baby encourages prolonged breastfeeding and reassurance that bed sharing with little ones can be safe and effective. Reading this book as a mother and a healthcare professional allowed me to look at this book from two perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend to any of my clients.Read moreLess
1 person found this review helpful.
"Reassuring, research based book on sleeping with your baby…"
If you're struggling with lack of sleep with your new baby or wondering whether it is safe to sleep with your breastfed baby and go against current opinion, then this is the book for you. Finally, a sensible book taking normal biology and recent research into account, full of ideas for sweet sleep for both you AND your baby. The fact that it is written in tells-it-how-it-is plain language and comes from the well respected La Leche League International is a double bonus. Sweet Sleep has the same authors (plus one) as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and is written in a similar style— answering all your frequently asked questions head on with a balance of common sense, mother's stories and evidence based research.
The four authors have all been breastfeeding mothers, breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants—putting them in a perfect position to understand the confusion and exhaustion surrounding caring for a new baby, and to share tried and tested sleep solutions backed by scientific research.
Chapter one gets straight into the heart of The Safe Sleep Seven—a checklist for safe sleeping for the breastfeeding mother and how to make your bed as "SIDS-safe as a cot". I like the fact we don't have to wade through the book to know the jist of the message:
“If you and your baby meet the requirements in the Safe Sleep Seven checklist you've already eliminated all the biggest SIDS risks. And if you prepare your bed, then your baby's overall nighttime risk becomes vanishingly small. It's like putting your seat belt on and then driving slowly on a deserted (and lovely!) country road. Enjoy having your baby beside you for the journey.”
All the questions you will have about sleeping safely are covered e.g. Is it safe for your baby to sleep on his tummy on his mother or father? How can you check if your mattress is a safe surface? Are sleep positioners safe or a hazard? Is sleep training harmful? Is white noise harmful for tiny ears? Can my partner bed share with our baby? What does research say? What about public health cautions that bed sharing is risky?
“Babies are no more manipulative in seeking warmth, breastfeeding, and emotional connection than an adult is in seeking a heat source, dinner, and friendship. Mothers are no more wishy-washy in "giving in" to a baby's needs than a friend is wishy-washy in giving you a hug when you're feeling down.”
Because the book is quite long it's good to know that you can dip in and out of chapters as you need them without necessarily reading the whole. However, by reading the book cover to cover you won't miss all the fascinating tips and snippets such as 'two sleeps biology', why your baby doesn't need scratch mittens, why breastfeeding pillows could be a hazard, the reassuring table of sleep temperaments and traits or the important difference between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB). At the back of the book is a "Tearsheet Toolkit" with summaries of the Safe Sleep Seven, The Safe Surface Checklist, Helpful Websites or Bedsharing Talking Points (and more) to serve as personal reminders or for sharing with your in-laws, doctor or childcare provider. These are also available online at the La Leche League International website.
“...we're recommending that all breastfeeding mothers prepare for bed-sharing whether or not they ever intend to do it, since research finds that most breastfeeding mothers do sleep with their babies at some point and preparing for bedsharing is safer than accidentally falling asleep together.”
Even the most passionate protestor against bed sharing will find it hard to argue against the research, logic and common sense within the pages of Sweet Sleep. It's valuable reading for every mother to be, father, health worker, grandparent and not forgetting Daily Mail editor. Because sleeping with your baby is not newsworthy or scandalous, it's normal.
See the Safe Sleep Seven tear off at http://breastfeeding.support/sweet-sleep/Read moreLess
1 person found this review helpful.