Wiessinger, Diane, et. al. Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Families. New York: Ballantine Books, 2014. Print.
In a nutshell:
If you've ever paged through LLL's hefty The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, you will find many similarities in Sweet Sleep. Most notably, the authors attempt to bring you the intimacy of a support meeting but in book form by speaking directly to "you" the reader and filling the pages with first-person accounts of sleep struggles and successes. While most sleep books on the market focus on training your baby or scheduling feeds, Sweet Sleep offers a different perspective on nighttime parenting.
The book opens with a checklist of The Safe Sleep Seven. If met, these seven requirements "make your bed as SIDS-safe as a crib and greatly reduce other risks in just a few steps" (3). Indeed, Sweet Sleep suggests that if you can meet these criteria, bedsharing may provide a low-risk option to get more rest while meeting your baby's needs for nourishment and attachment.
The middle sections of the book work through developmentally normal expectations for the naps and nighttimes of your nursling at all ages and stages. Throughout it all, the book maintains that needs for nighttime nursing and reassurance are normal into toddlerhood. The book saves the nitty-gritty work of wading through research that often is cited to warn against bedsharing for the end of the book and makes a thorough but accessible argument in support of their view. The book concludes with a guide to handle any negative responses you may receive from family and friends.
For those who meet the Safe Sleep Seven criteria, Sweet Sleep provides a welcome perspective different from most sleep advice books on the market. If you are a breastfeeding parent and committed to responsive, attachment-promoting parenting, this book could provide much needed reassurance.
Other quotes of note:
"Our immature babies don't have much choice in how they behave. But we as mothers, with our fully-developed brains, can choose our behaviors. Our brilliant little still-developing babies, who are helpless without us, count on us to choose well. We're not just filling their stomachs; we're feeding their souls. And our own" (44).
"All children move out of your bed and your room and sleep through the night, without your having to do a thing. Sometimes you can make it faster with well-timed nudging. Sometimes you need a change for your own sake. And sometimes the best approach is no approach . . . yet (or maybe ever). The essence of nudging is that you can always relax about it for now and trust that time - with or without a little nudge - will take care of it. It will" (193).
"Probably the single best tip is to step outside each day, even if it's raining or snowing. Throw your shoulders back, look up, and take a couple of deep breaths. You're one of billions of mothers, now and across time. You're built strong, and you're built competent. You're going to find happiness and skills that you never knew you had in you. Even if it doesn't feel like it yet" (239).
Are you finding yourself exhausted and looking for sleep support? Nested Mama offers a heart-centered holistic approach to family sleep. Learn how you can get the support you need today and the rest you need tonight.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.