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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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The child care classic is now totally revised and updated as Dr. Weissbluth, a leading researcher on sleep and children, promotes a revolutionary program to ensure healthy, happy sleep for a child--both at night and during equally important daytime naps. He offers dozens of anecdotes and new case histories of children with various sleep disorders and the prescribed methods of therapy.

528 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1987

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Marc Weissbluth

17 books12 followers

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5 stars
3,837 (34%)
4 stars
3,763 (33%)
3 stars
2,401 (21%)
2 stars
795 (7%)
1 star
320 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,793 reviews
Profile Image for Hannah.
10 reviews2 followers
August 23, 2007
This book was recommended to me by a good friend who had literally poured over every book she could find on the topic of sleep. She sees it as the sleep bible.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time with the book for several reasons.

1) It's very dense with a small typeface - note easy to read when you're exhausted and looking for a solution.
2) It's totally unclear where in the book there's actual practical information on how to help your child sleep.
3) The author is strongly opinionated and has kind of a damning tone.

As a new parent, it's hard to filter out other people's judgemental attitudes, especially "experts," so I prefer information that's delivered in a softer tone. At one point, Weissbluth actually states something to the effect that children who get poor sleep are more likely to be bratty and those brats are more likely to become fat. I'm going to hunt down the actual quote, but that's the jist of it.

I get that he's emphatic and I agree that healthy sleep habits are incredibly important, but there's a difference between beating a drum and beating a person over the head with it.

All the same, the book is chock full of research and data that can help you develop a more informed approach toward your child's sleep, and Weissbluth does present some great concepts.

A friend of mine actually figured out what the "program" or "plan" was (she winnowed it out from the rest of the book somehow). She swears by it, which I probably would too had I been able to get that far! When I get the pared down version from her, I'll post the important page numbers here.
1 review1 follower
June 18, 2008
I really love this book – though I notice I almost always hear negative reviews and comments about him which is a huge shame. People think of him as having a "cry it out" stance and of being anti-"attachment parenting" but this couldn't be further from the truth. What is great is that he doesn't have one philosophy or think there is one method of doing things. He gives many different sleep strategies that include no crying, some crying, and "cry it out" and he tells you which strategy is likely to work for which type of kid. He also has no issue with co-sleeping – he thinks you have to find whatever sleeping situation works best for your family. The best part is he provides data and scientific evidence on sleeping so you really understand the process of how it works and why it's important and how much sleep your child needs. He's so open-minded and tries to provide information for so many different situations (like if a parent has many support resources, or very few) because he recognizes that each family and child are different – but this is exactly why he is so misunderstood and why the book is so hard to read! Because he presents you with so many possible scenarios. But believe me it's well worth it. We ended up doing a mixture of things he suggested until we found what worked. Some of the things he said we ignored but some we really took to heart. In the end what comes through to me about this doctor is that he deeply cares about mothers (and their babies) and recognizes the many challenges that face them. But instead of trying to gloss over those challenges (or act like they wouldn't be there if only you had the RIGHT parenting philosophy) he paints a realistic picture of them (he acknowledges that some husbands aren't supportive or that some parents don't have outside family to rely on) and he gives advice on what to do in light of those situations (not how to fix the impossible).
Profile Image for Kelly.
85 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2008
First off, let me say that I didn't actually "read" this book cover to cover. I skimmed it. A LOT of people recommend this book, and I can see why. But it bugs me. In my opinion, the author has a "do or die" approach, like if you don't help your child sleep better NOW and in his (the author's) way, he/she is going to suffer for it for the rest of their lives. It made me feel guilty as a parent for not doing everything he says, like I'm harming my child, which I know I'm not. Also, it's almost like he thinks his way is the ONLY way. There are lots of books and ideas out there for sleep issues: there is no right or wrong way to help your child sleep. There is no "one-size fits all" approach to parenting - if babies were supposed to have an instruction book, they would have come with one at birth. I think this book helps a lot of people, and that's great, but it's not the end-all, be-all of sleep solutions. Oh, and you have to wade through a lot of scientific research mumbo jumbo to get to the real point of his book. It could have been written in a much more accessible manner.
Profile Image for Syd Markle.
31 reviews27 followers
September 28, 2010
I give this one two stars not because the ideas were bad. The concepts are fairly sound and it is helping me get my 3 month on a napping schedule that will help him grow and be happy. I've already seen significant improvement in his mood.

I give it two stars because the book repeats itself over and over and over. It needs a good editorial scrub. It's as if someone felt it should be a certain number of pages, so they kept stretching the material. It's very redundant and honestly, could be boiled down to perhaps three chapters.

Chapter 1: Why children need sleep and the data that backs it up.
Chapter 2: Suggested sleep schedules by age.
Chapter 3: How to deal with difficult babies, and other sleep issues.

I will say however, I do not follow the cry it out advice. If he cries I respond. That's just my style of parenting.

Instead we focus on:
1. Not letting him get overtired (Babies can only handle about 1.5 to 2 hours before they get tired).
2. Encouraging longer naps during the day (This was a revelation that goes against common sense, and has really helped him sleep better overall.)
3. Getting him to bed at a regular time.

I feel like the book helped me understand the importance of structure. The concepts are helping us develop good habits for the future. It may not be for every parent, but it's working for us so far. Even if the organization of the book is horrible.
Profile Image for Amanda.
798 reviews
November 7, 2013
This book is really flawed, I can't get away from that. If you're looking for a book of hints on getting your child to sleep, this isn't it - the title is misleading. Weissbluth is over-the-top about insisting kids get enough quality sleep (although that's arguably valuable in our overscheduled lives) and there are dire warnings for kids who don't. Sometimes the book is contradictory and it is poorly organized.

So why my rare 5 star rating? It is just full of good information about sleep development. My fourth baby is an infant, and remembering that now is when she will start staying up really late at night but at 6 weeks will be ready for an earlier bedtime is sanity saving. Having an idea of when naps consolidate, what's a reasonable bedtime, and how to work through common challenges make my life easier. If you're totally on board with Babywise or Dr Sears, you will probably not love Weissbluth's advice, but if you're more middle-of-the road (like me) this has a ton of good information that is adaptable for different families without insisting on a moral path. He is accepting of cry it out, but if that's not your path then there is advice for the family bed. What he is most insistent on is that children - and their parents - get the sleep they need. If your method is not getting you baby good sleep, he's pushing you to change it.

I would recommend parents not choose a day when they are desperate for sleep changes to read this. (Chapters have an "action plan" section, but I find them confusing.) Read it to get a sense of how much and when your child needs sleep and be watching for those windows of change.
Profile Image for Rachel.
14 reviews
January 3, 2008
This book makes me feel like a failure as a parent when my child has sleep issues. I hate his preachy tone and militant approach. I have literally thrown it across the room in frustration. Several times when we have encountered a new sleep issue with Nora, I go back to this book, hoping that he'll have some good advice. We are currently trying his "sleep rules" approach to deal with her getting out of bed a thousand times a night, with some success, but I think it has more to do with the holidays winding down and getting used to the baby than it does with the "sleep rules." I just picked up The No-Cry Sleep Solution from the library and I like it a lot better already. Mostly because the author admits that there are different approaches that can work depending on your child and your parenting style.
Profile Image for Breeana Wright.
77 reviews39 followers
November 29, 2010
What a lifesaving book!

Like many first-time parents, I started off pretty darn ignorant. I did everything wrong regarding my firstborn's sleep habits for the first about 9 months. I became a miserable being surviving on almost no sleep and lots of frustration. My baby turned into a sullen little thing, too. I knew something had to be done when I realized he hardly smiled or giggled at all.

I researched different sleep-training books and liked the reviews from Amazon.com on this one, so I bought it.

I recommend you read it with a highlighter and mark everything you want to be able to easily find again. Weissbluth doesn't format his writing very well and he often repeats himself or gets off track. But the INFORMATION contained is empowering!

I applied the techniques and principles he teaches and WOW! It worked wonderfully. My marriage to my husband improved, I became a normal person again, and Brady became a sweet, happy baby again (instead of cranky from being sleep-deprived).

I suggest you don't "cheat" when teaching your baby how to sleep because - I'm here to tell you - you will pay later on, and it will be even HARDER to fix. I applied everything from the book except ONE thing: sleeping through the entire night without a bottle (or nursing). Brady got to a point where he was taking two long naps a day and sleeping all night... except for one night nursing, which I couldn't give up. Then when I weaned him at 14 months, I gave him a bottle each night. WELL... it would've been easier overall if I had just weaned him from his night feeding at 9 months. My mind was telling me to, but my heart was saying the opposite. I thought it was fine until the reprocussions started appearing. It's worth it to do it right (completely) the FIRST time, and not prolong even a small part of the problem.

Any new parents or moms, I highly recommend this book! It has worked wonders in our family. Our 18-month-old now ASKS for his nap when it's naptime. He does the same with bedtime as well! Life is wonderful. I'll apply this book from birth on with the rest of my children.
Profile Image for Marita.
20 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2008
I feel like all the books say the same thing in different ways and then sell it as the ONLY thing that works. The funniest thing is that they also seem to say that if you pay attention to your child you will notice patterns and respond according to your best instincts. DUH!! Pay attention to what your child needs. I never thought of that! I feel like most of these books are written to make mothers/parents feel bad, especially if you are breastfeeding. God forbid you don't like to hear your baby cry! What do you do if your child is totally motor oriented and therefore a restless sleeper as she has learned to crawl and pull her self up and creep along all before 7 months! I have gone in circles and back only to resort to trusting myself and loving my sweet daughter. I will admit that it has helped to have my husband help some at night so that she is learning to feed a bit less. We'll see. As everyone says the only thing you can count on is that things change. Lily hasn't even gotten her first teeth. It is a process that all parents must go through and there is certainly nothing wrong with our children if they don't sleep "through the night"--whatever that means!! Okay off the soap box!
Profile Image for polly.
123 reviews1 follower
September 28, 2007

This book is really not great for babies under 4 months of age, although it did introduce me to an important concept (don't keep a very young baby awake for more than 2 hours!). It is geared more to babies 5+ months and toddlers, preschoolers, children. For the first four months, definitely go to Dr. Harvey Karp's "The Happiest Baby on the Block," which is astoundingly good--and I recommend the DVD more than the book.

Dr. W is extremely knowledgeable about sleep patterns and methods. This book is full of information, but it is very poorly organized. I like that he is not judgmental about where baby sleeps (crib, co-sleeping, whatever) and although he does lean to a cry-it-out (CIO) method, that is NOT the only approach mentioned in this book. that method works for some babies; doesn't work for others. he notes that parents who don't want to CIO will not see fast results like CIO parents will, but that it can certainly work. Each parent has to decide for him/herself what is best, and I've had friends who have been totally fine with CIO and it works for them, although it won't work well for my intense little fellow....not at this point anyhow.

This is a good book because it really emphasizes how important healthy sleep is. however, for a wee little baby--go w/ Dr. Karp and read this book after a few months! However--I will say that I do think it's good after a couple of months to start implementing bedtime routines, etc. just for the sake of starting to establish predictability, so that is good.
Profile Image for Sarah.
86 reviews3 followers
August 18, 2008
The sleep bible! I swear this is the book that saved my life and now has me pregnant for the third time. Sleeping babies are the best babies ever, and this book teaches parents how to make sure their kids get all the sleep they need, how to get them to sleep, details on how much, napping, falling asleep in cars, etc - I still read it for my 3 year old and review it for my 1yr old...plus it has tips all the way to to the teen years. I have not met anyone yet who has religiously followed it say it doesn't work! The author was my nephew's pediatrician, and his mom gave me the book as a baby present, best gift ever!
Profile Image for Marisa.
302 reviews7 followers
March 14, 2008
This is the most amazing sleep book ever written. I read it with my first and it is a miracle! It totally teaches you how to train your kids to sleep. I refreshed my memory and re-read parts of it with our second and it still worked wonders. Every parent of a newborn should read this. You'll never regret that you did!
Profile Image for Wendy.
94 reviews5 followers
January 30, 2011
I have mixed feeling about this book, but overall it is fabulous and I'm very glad that I read it.

The Good: I understand why this book has been referred to as the "sleep bible." After finishing this book, I feel like I no longer have any questions about what normal sleep should look like for my child and how to best go about teaching her to sleep. This book contains information on a large span of ages and phases from the first days as a newborn all the way through adolescence. There are also chapters dedicated to extremely fussy/colicky babies, common sleep problems, less common and more serious sleep problems, and special events or concerns (moving, vacation, new siblings) regarding sleep. Perhaps one of my favorite things about the book has nothing at all to do with the topic it so thoroughly discusses. I absolutely love the way Marc Weissbluth speaks to his readers. He does not have a "my way or the highway" attitude and seems to understand that different approaches may work for different families depending upon parental attitudes, parenting styles, and the child's temperament. It was comforting that Weissbluth offered "let cry," "maybe cry," and "no cry" solutions to sleep problems, reminding us that each approach will eventually yield the same result as long as it is used consistently. I feel that I learned so much from this book that I will probably end up checking it out at the library again or buying a copy of my own to use as a reference as my child grows and her needs change.

The Bad: I read this book cover to cover and perhaps I shouldn't have. The author even recommends reading this book more as a reference - only reading the parts you need at that particular time. This book was a challenge for me to read cover to cover for a few reasons. The first four chapters were very dry for me. They contained a lot of common sense and information included in seemingly every single parenting book. Chapter four in particular, titled "Sleep Extreme Fussiness/Colic, and Temperament," really got on my nerves. I might just be bitter because as I read it made me realize that maybe my little girl really did/does have colic! Either way, she is not an easy baby and although it was comforting to know that I'm not alone in my struggles, I hate being reminded of all the extra work I have to go through to comfort my extra fussy baby. Another reason to hate Chapter four is that it is extremely scientific. Now, I like knowing that the advice I'm being given is founded in actual studies and has proven results, but I'm reading the book to learn how to give my child good sleep habits. If I had wanted to know every single detail from each sleep study ever done on children, I would have picked up a medical journal, not this book. My final, albeit minor, complaint is that I had a difficult time finishing this book. My daughter is three months old and it was hard for me to want to read about what I should be doing once she's in preschool or older to encourage healthy sleep habits. Call me ignorant if you must, but I'm much to focused on the now to project that far into the future.

Our Experiences: I have just finished the book, but already have applied some of what I learned to our family life. This book confirmed that my baby really needs more sleep than I initially thought. I have tried harder to make sure she is wake for no longer than two hours at a time during the day, per Dr. Weissbluth's recommendation. I have moved my daughter's bedtime to an earlier hour and have noticed good results. We used to begin her bedtime routine, which I highly recommend all parents establish, at eight o'clock with her being asleep by 8:45. Now, I begin her bedtime routine whenever she begins to get fussy in the evening, sometimes as early as 5:30 but never later than 7:00, and have found her to be asleep within a half hour of beginning our routine. I have also found that sleep truly begets sleep, even if it doesn't seem logical - it works!
Profile Image for Michelle.
15 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2012
Let's start with the positive. His notion that children calm down and sleep better and generally behave better after 6 weeks was spot on with my two children.

His ideas about not allowing infants longer than 2 hours of wakefulness has also worked well. He also talks about watching for signs of sleepiness, which I have found to be astute, although difficult to be watching my baby carefully for signs of sleepiness in the midst of everything else that goes on.

The idea that children don’t sleep as well when they’re overtired has been a guiding principle for us, and has served us well. Our children are excellent sleepers. From this and many other things he wrote about, I would consider Dr. Weisbluth to be very knowledgeable about baby sleep. Perhaps one of the experts in the field.

But the way he expresses himself almost drives me crazy! He has an argumentative tone and often accuses his readers of being too selfish to do what is best for their children!

He makes blanket statements such as "NEVER wake a sleeping baby," or “Put babies to bed NO LATER than 6:30pm.” repeats them often, with capital letters and then later in the book makes suggestions that contradict his first statements.

He wanders from topic to topic in such a way that I wonder if he had an editor.

He spends pages ranting about selfish parenting. (You can skip those pages, there was nothing of value in there.)

I have struggled to stifle my anger at his approach to me—the reader he assumes is selfish and unreasonable, although he’s never met me--so that I can glean from him whatever he has that will work for my child.

Let’s face it, no two children respond exactly the same way, and so any book about raising children should offer suggestions and teach principles, realizing this won’t work every time.

Basically, if you can get past the presentation, the principles in the book are sound, and have been very beneficial for us. I wish you the best of luck.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
105 reviews
October 14, 2008
I read this book on the recommendation of several people and many mommies swear by it. For me this book can be explained in a nutshell that doesn't need 400 pages: babies need lots and lots of sleep, yours probably isn't getting enough, let your baby cry it out for up to 45 minutes at naptime, unlimted crying at night time. Why I really gave it only two stars is because the author makes annoying and unsubstantiated claims that are not easy to swallow. For example, if your baby gets too little sleep then he/she could develop ADD later on. Bullshit, buddy.
Profile Image for briz.
Author 7 books64 followers
November 15, 2021
I didn't "read" this so much as blearily stare at it in a fog of fatigue at 3am. Ho ho ho.

Actually, I kid. I read some of it. I read the chapters that were most relevant to my life right now - and truly, I exist only in the HERE and NOW right now - and I read the "exhausted parent summaries" at the end of the other chapters, when I could find them (sometimes I was too tired to find them).

Generally, I am very much on Team Weissbluth, infamously known as Team Cry It Out. Allow me to vent: I mean, we let our kids cry - sometimes for quite a while - when we're doing other things to them that they don't like but we know is good for them: taking a bath, getting their diaper changed, changing out of their soiled clothes, going in the car, etc. So why should sleep be something that gets sacrificed just cuz the little one doth protest too much? The "attachment parenting" narrative posits that letting your baby cry for more than I-don't-know-how-many minutes could cause permanent, long-lasting psychological harm; so does attachment parenting say we should avoid baths, diaper changes, car rides, anything else they hate, etc? I guess it's because all these other crying-producing events have definite ends, and so the parent (at least) can grin and bear it. But howling at night, with no end in sight, feels unbearable.

Anyway, Weissbluth's writing is catty, opinionated, stern and compassionate: that is, he is the classic angry, jaded doctor. He's like Hawkeye Pierce. Except instead of the Korean War, he's trudging back from the Parenting War on "mama" message boards, and he's super pissed off. He's like that meme of George Clooney walking away from a burning car, with the headline "Paul Krugman has had it up to here with you people". That is, he has been trying to fight the good fight - getting kids to sleep, creating healthy sleep patterns - since 1973 (when he started practicing pediatrics). He is a prof at Northwestern (fancy!) and has marshaled tons of rigorous research evidence (randomized-control trials!) that "sleep training"/"extinction"/"cry it out" does NOT break your baby, but rather makes everyone - baby, mom, other parents, family - better rested and happier and healthier, etc. And yet, he must still fight this fight. I think the best line in the book (and this appears also in Emily Oster's Cribsheet, in the chapter on sleep training) is that popular opinion on sleep training is very divided, but expert opinion (pediatricians, child dev psychologists) is not: sleep training works.

This leads to writing that, okay, I found highly amusing. His multi-page screed against Dr. Sears (the father of attachment parenting) is *chef's kiss*. There are italics and exclamation points. He has a wonderful line about us parents letting go of some "hypothetical dream baby" and accepting the baby we have here, now! For the love of God! I imagine him saying this while shaking us by the arms, maybe giving a slap or two across the face. He has a wonderfully indignant rant about how all that research that shows how maternal mental illness can negatively impact baby sleep patterns is probably just masking a bunch of deadbeat dads. Ohhh, don't get him started on deadbeat dads. I love it.

Anyway, the book is organized into sections:
- Why is sleep important (imagine him shaking you and giving you a hard slap while shouting EVERYONE NEEDS TO RESPECT EVERYONE'S SLEEP MORE)
- Sleep problems and solutions (early bedtimes, get dad involved, teach self-soothing as much as possible (i.e. put them down drowsy but awake), do the French "le Pause" thing - i.e. wait before consoling at night to see if they settle)
- Baby's first month (a compassionate section; it's chaos + all babies are super-noisy sleepers (snorting, snoring, grunting, squeaking, etc) + colic is a thing + colic is hell)
- Baby's second month (the peak of madness! and the ebb of madness; a light at the end of the tunnel; maybe try self-soothing more if you're baby is not super colicky?! where is deadbeat dad?!!)
- EVERY SINGLE MONTH AFTER THAT: teach self-soothing because bad sleep is worse than crying for even a few hours for a few nights (!)

So it's great. It's a reference book I basically sleep with, hugging it to my chest. He was bang on right about a lot of stuff I experienced: e.g. early bedtimes are key, respecting your kid's sleep schedule is socially limiting but emotionally liberating. The first two weeks of newborn life are often a total honeymoon/bait-and-switch - those babies are just exhausted from having been born. Wait until they wake up! Aaagh.
Profile Image for Amy!.
2,261 reviews29 followers
July 13, 2020
I didn't read this all the way through, so marking it as read is cheating a TINY bit, but I read MOST of it - all the parts that currently apply to me, and I'll likely finish most of the rest before the end of the year, as my second kiddo gets older and the later infant chapters start applying to her sleep.

As a new parent with my first kiddo, sleep was the one thing that made me feel out of control and lost. I didn't realize until after he was born that babies eventually stop just sleeping on their own without any help from you. It was hard, and I had months of feeling like I was doing everything wrong and going to ruin my kid's sleep for life.

I wish I had read this book before he was born. I really like Weissbluth's writing style. It's a little dry, but he does a good job of presenting the information and guiding parents, and I found it very reassuring - like a kindly grandpa saying "you've got this". I liked all the the parent anecdotes he included. Most of his advice boils down to "PUT YOUR KID TO BED EARLIER," and he definitely repeats information a lot, but I found that helpful for making it stick in my head.

I will almost certainly be referring to this in the future as my kids age.

(Also, I highlighted THE SHIT out of this book, so feel free to check out Amy's Key Points if you want a cliff's notes version.)

ETA: My new baby is now 7 weeks old (8 weeks gestational age), and after one really bad sleep week where they refused to nap anywhere but on me and never for longer than 30-60 minutes, this baby has spent the last two days going down to sleep with almost no crying and sleeping for more than an hour at a time. We start out putting a pacifier in their mouth, but they have been falling asleep whether or not it stays in.

Since we came home from the hospital, I've been really strict about putting the baby down within 1-2 hours after they wake up. Up until now, we've had to get up and reinsert the pacifier when it fell out until, eventually, the baby fell asleep, but the past two days they've been able to put themselves to sleep fairly quickly and with very minimal intervention - once when we were busy with the toddler, the baby cried for about five minutes and then was asleep by the time I had a free hand to check on her.

My experience with my first baby was NOT like this, so it really feels like a miracle to me, and I absolutely think having read this book and taken Dr. Weissbluth's advice to heart has made a huge difference. I am amazed at how good my kid is sleeping.
Profile Image for Evaly.
195 reviews
September 20, 2012
What I liked:
It worked- my baby is on a schedule! Weissbluth is in favor of nursing before sleep, which I find to be more realistic and less harsh for the baby. Trying to do a sleep schedule AND stop nursing before sleep was too much for my baby. He recommends waiting until your baby is 4 mos. old to really focus on the schedule or attempt to let them cry it out (if they have a difficult temperament, like my baby). He recommends a very early bedtime. This has made a huge difference for my baby and gotten him on the recommended sleep schedule- wake up at 7, nap at 9, nap at 1, bed by 7. Love it!!

What I didn't like:
The book is way too long for a sleep-deprived parent. It's not easy to find a quick answer. He makes you feel like your kid is going to be screwed up forever if you don't get them sleeping, which is kind of traumatizing when you are already stressed out and sleep-deprived. Obviously, you are trying to help them sleep more or you wouldn't be reading the book! How about some compassion?
Profile Image for Laura.
272 reviews23 followers
December 17, 2016
I'm really struggling to read this book -- the poor organization, the condescending tone, the wordiness. So I think if I can review it as I go with all my snarky thoughts I will enjoy the process more and possibly make it through. Because this has been recommended to me so much (and because I got a free copy) I am trying to be humble enough to finish it. I skimmed through this for both of my previous babies, but I'm now trying to read it thoroughly in preparation for my third.

So far:
I need to respond to one particular satisfied patient whose letter is included in the book because I pretty much hate her. She writes, "I am aware that the practice of toting your baby along with you on every occasion is the new social thing. No doubt it stems from the 'me' generation's philosophy that a baby should not be allowed to interfere with your lifestyle. So parents everywhere are seen with their infants: in grocery stores, restaurants, the homes of friends....The pressure is on to be a 'nouvelle' mom." The nerve of some parents to leave the house when we should be sitting at home with the shades drawn as if having a baby was a nuclear holocaust! If there is social pressure to bring your baby to the grocery store, it comes from CPS frowning on leaving your child alone, not hipster moms. And no, I don't think I should let a baby interfere with my selfish "lifestyle" of eating food. How does it help my baby if I starve to death? She calls it the "port-a-kid trend," as if I were visiting to the store just to be seen with my chevron car-seat cover and baby named JaeyDynn and not because this was my only chance in days to restock our empty fridge.

That rant is done. On to others:
The good doctor actually says: "Sleep and wake states are different but not opposite." I don't think he realizes what "opposite" means. (Inigo Montoya would have something to say about that.) His argument is that it's a different process to fall asleep versus wake up. It's also a different process to jump vs. fall, but up and down are still opposites. I was trying to explain his logic to my 9YO. "He must be drunk," my 9YO concluded. "Actually, he's a doctor," I said. "Then he must be a drunk doctor," he countered. I concur.

Those are really insignificant criticisms, but it felt good to get them out. My only substantial criticism so far is that this whole putting-to-bed-early thing just doesn't work like the testimonials say. When my brother and sister-in-law were coming to visit for a couple days, I implemented this advice on my then-2YO to ensure I impressed our guests with his well-rested behavior. Contrary to the doctor's assurances, putting him to bed earlier did not make him sleep longer. Instead, as most might have predicted, he woke up (and with him everyone else) early. I had so much faith in the words of this book at the time that it really baffled me why he was up so uncharacteristically early.

Lastly, I LOLed when I read his supposition that parents keep their kids up too late because they enjoy their company so much. I thought he mentioned having kids himself, so I don't know how he came up with that.

I've gotten a little farther. I'll start with something positive: Finding out that newborns should only be awake 1-2 hours (in my experience, it's the full 2) was a life-changing revelation. Learning the signs of tiredness was also critical to what was left of my sanity. I am kind of embarrassed that I had to read that in a book rather than figure it out through my supposed motherly instinct.

Back to whining. The doctor's solution for everything is more sleep -- putting to bed earlier at night, leaving baby in the crib longer in the morning, NEVER waking a sleeping baby -- except when you should. But in the extremely unfathomable event that the baby is actually getting enough sleep, you will know because “It is clear you have reached a too-early bedtime because your child no longer easily and promptly falls asleep.” I thought that was the sign for a too-late bedtime? And at what point (after the first week) does a baby EVER "easily and promptly" fall asleep? He is talking about a species I know nothing about. From what I'm reading, there is one perfect amount of sleep and one perfect sleep schedule for each baby, and it's a moving target as they grow, and if you screw it up it's because you so carelessly didn't follow the detail buried on page X (which probably involved some incarnation of putting the baby to bed earlier).

Another observation: What was the point of including this cringe-worthy patient quote? -- "I must have Chinese breast milk; he gets hungry just one hour after nursing!" I assume the doctor thought this was funny, but I'm not even sure because WTF is Chinese breast milk? Do bodily excretions have nationalities? If so, I claim Belgian citizenship for my milk; that could be the secret ingredient in Godiva. Along similar lines, the book establishes the authoritative normal citing a study of what "white urban families" do. I'm just saying this to show what a sophisticated white girl I am. Look at me pointing out racism!

Lastly, I'm having a hard time sorting out what advice is for what age range. I've been taking notes trying to keep it straight (because I sure don't want to have to read this book over each time the baby grows). I noticed when I added "12 to 21 months: transition to 1 or 2 naps," it was right below my bullet for "9 months: usually 1 or 2 naps." Either I misunderstood something or the doctor can't keep it all straight either. I noticed upcoming chapters are split up by age range. Hopefully that will help me sort it all out.

I'm still pushing through, hoping for more nuggets like the 1-2 hour wakefulness window. The more I read the more I'm convinced this guy really is an expert in putting people to sleep.
I am just too tired to finish reading this book, but here are my final angry  thoughts thereon, with the caveat this is based on my mommy-brain memory of what I read, which may or may not be what I actually read:

What is so magic about a 6:00 bedtime?  Apart from the impossibility of never going anywhere in the evening (how else will anyone who's anyone at Food4Less see his aqua and grey scandi-print PJs?), how is it possible that this is the ideal regardless of timezone or season?  So, Arizona babies should go to bed an hour apart (don't ask me to figure out if I mean before or after) from Utah babies just north of them during Daylight Savings (which Arizona commendably abstains from)?  Why struggle to get the baby to sleep at a time when it’s usually sunny just to have him wake up in the dark?  If it’s just the 12-hour proximity to 6 a.m. that’s sacred (O Holy 6:00 at Night), what if I don’t want to get up that early? (That's not actually a "what if" so much as a "h*** no!") My older kids don’t need to wake up until 8, and synchronizing their schedule with the baby’s maximizes my sleep and sanity.
The doctor is so smug in his belief that cry it out will work...except when he briefly mentions the fine print, that if it doesn’t you should try again when the baby is older.  It’s like an oily salesman trying to peddle a warranty after he went to great lengths assuring you that thing will never break down.  Or like an investment banker who keeps losing your money until she finally gets it right and says, “See, I told you I’m good at this.”   I’m not anti-CIO; I've just learned it’s not all it’s trumped up to be. I was a golden convert to CIO when it worked wonderfully for my 10-month-old oldest. Then I fell into apostasy when it worked not at all for my second baby at various ages. For nights and hours on end, he would cry until the magic hour of 6 a.m.  And, since you are instructed that picking him up will only reinforce his resilience in screaming his head off, you have to choose between reinforcing his willful rebellion and maintaining the Holy of Holies 6 a.m. wake-up.  

Why is the correlation between day and night sleep quality always (as in, not just by Weissbluth) interpreted to mean that more day sleep causes more night sleep? Could it not possibly be that the same factors interfering with day sleep are still at play with night sleep?  If there's a jackhammer going off 24/7 outside the nursery, you scream obscenities at the construction company and turn on white noise; you don't say, "Poor baby can't sleep because he took a nap at 9:15 instead of 9:00." The very, very best nights I’ve had are when we're overscheduled to the point that Baby doesn’t get enough naps and is therefore more exhausted than hungry.

I'm sure this book has helped a lot of people, and even I got some good stuff out of it, but...yeah.
Profile Image for Annette.
750 reviews17 followers
November 29, 2017
I admit I bought the book when my son was 9 months old (he's now 2), and never read it. I was sure it was going to tell me to let him "cry it out," and I didn't want to hear it. But I reached a breaking point with my 7 month old daughter this week and decided that I Had to give it a try, or quietly (?) go nuts. Sure enough, it does tell you to let 'em cry it out, but it backs up this advice so well - and allows enough flexibility - that I actually feel pretty good about it. In fact, as much as I hate the buzz word, I feel "Empowered" by it.
So, five stars for the content; but only three for the presentation. Average is four, so that's what I rated it!

Cliffs Notes I wrote for this book, plus some personal advice from getting three children through infancy.

What I like about the content: there's a lot of solid scientific data underlying it. It's not based on a single doctor's observations or even a single study, but rather a fairly good set of studies on a variety of interconnected subjects. The advice is solid, practical, and - if you're patient - reasonably unambiguous, without feeling stuffy or inflexible. It's neither emotional nor judgmental. after reading (most) of it, I feel considerably more educated about sleep and sleep problems, and have a renewed commitment to helping my kids achieve healthy patterns.

What I dislike about the presentation: It is Long, repetitive, and disorganized in a way that prevents you from simply scanning through the repeated advice to get to the new nuggets. I feel that a good editor could reduce this 450 page monster to 250 pages, and that's being generous. In fact, you could probably read any given chapter and get about 70-80% of the content right there, but the other unarguably important parts are scattered throughout.
Especially in the first few "introductory" chapters, statements are made about childrens' sleep needs without specifying these childrens' ages - and everyone knows there's a vast difference between a 5 month old and a 15 month old! Some of the advice is even apparently contradictory: the tip "Never wake a sleeping child" is printed in bold within a few pages of two mentions of instances where you might need to wake a sleeping child. 100 pages later the contradiction is resolved by explaining that you should never wake a sleeping child unless it is specifically to help adjust their sleep schedule to a healthy norm. Ack!
In fact, the whole first 150+ pages are essentially introductory, constantly hinting at things that will be covered in the following chapters, but leaving you afraid to simply quit and skip ahead lest you miss something foundational.
In summary, what this book needs is some good Cliff Notes. I may write them myself if I don't find someone else has saved me the trouble!
Profile Image for Rosy.
203 reviews1 follower
December 14, 2012
Dr. Weissbluth's book is one of the most recommended books for new parents distressed at the lack of sleep in their house, and for good reason. He goes into depth about normal baby sleep cycles and offers strategies to help exhausted parents for nearly every complaint they may have. Dr. Weissbluth's main point that really sticks to the reader is that sleep begets sleep. Contrary to popular opinion, an overtired infant will not simply conk out and sleep for 12 hours - rather, the opposite happens, something which I can certainly attest to.

It's too bad that it's Dr. Ferber who is labeled as the Cry It Out Advocate because I found Dr. Weissbluth more supportive of the rapid extinction method - the lock your child in the room and let him/her cry until he/she falls asleep. Dr. Weissbluth goes much deeper into the science of sleep. If you are looking for a "what the heck do I do now" step by step instruction manual, this is not it.

I have an issue with sleep books in general and it is that there's no "typical" child, and there are good nights and bad nights for everybody. I almost drove myself crazy cataloguing nap times and wake times, convinced that the right combination would yield the ever elusive 12 hour sleep stretch. My spirited baby has her own way, and the only thing I can say to tired parents is - read all the sleep books, and choose what works for you.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
645 reviews117 followers
October 19, 2009
This book really helped a tremendous amount with my newborn! It has a lot of science/research information to back up the advice AND anecdotal information about specific families going through the same kind of things I was. As a new parent it was nice to see several choices of methods available to me to help me with my daughter - and it encouraged me to make the choice that we were comfortable with, it didn't push any one method over others.

I, too, didn't know that a baby could need to go to sleep an hour after waking -- that alone was worth reading the book. It made a huge difference in her behavior when she was awake. For the first 8 weeks or so (before I got this book), she would cry incessantly if she wasn't held. If you put her down after she fell asleep, she would wake up after 5 minutes or so -- it was exhuasting! Once I tried putting her down after an hour of awake time, it made a huge difference!

But, like any advice you get (whether from a book or a fellow parent), take it all with a grain of salt -- and realize that it may not work for your unique little one. If this happens, move on and try something new, until you find something that works for your family.
Profile Image for Carrie (Care).
269 reviews5 followers
November 25, 2012
My sister has raved about this book for years now. I never read it since our previous foster children didn't seem to have sleep issues. Now that we have a newborn and toddler and scheduling them can be difficult - I gave it a shot. Within days we had a better sleep schedule for both children! We didn't even realize the toddler had sleep issues. We were told he was just a handful, difficult, and extra cranky cause he didn't nap well. It was his 'personality'. Turns out he needed an earlier bedtime (very early, 6:45 pm) and a early nap (10:30-10:45 am). Now he falls asleep within 10 mins instead of 1 or 2 hours. He is also a much happier toddler.

The baby, we were told, had colic. It's why he would cry endlessly. Now that I tried some of the tips in the book he hardly cries at all! He is always happy and smiling. If he does cry a lot, I know he needs to get some sleep. He is now 4 months old and had 2-3 naps during the day and sleeps all through the night.
6 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2008
Although the writing feels confused and hodgepodge-y throughout, Weissbluth provides concrete information and advice on how to help your child sleep well, especially for first-time parents. I followed the author's suggestion of reading certain chapters while pregnant and felt like I had a good handle on what to expect and how to help with regards to sleeping when my daughter was born. Now, I often refer to the book's month by month guide on how parents can help their children establish healthy sleep habits. With the help of this resource, our four-month-old daughter sleeps through the night, is beginning to organize her daytime naps and is all smiles when awake. A must read for soon-to-be parents.
Profile Image for Alissa.
77 reviews3 followers
April 25, 2012
How you rate this book will depend upon your need. If you are reading for knowledge, this book is incredibly enlightening. If you are a tired parent looking for solutions, the research and analytical stuff with bog you down and irritate you. But Dr. Weissbluth does offer solutions to problems. After reading about half of the book, I had put it down for a while and then hit a patch of night waking with my son. Once I revisited the appropriate section (that had not been applicable at all to us before), we decided on a course of action and found positive results. There is something for every parent in this book, although you may not need to read it cover to cover.
14 reviews
September 30, 2008
I am currently re-reading this book since I have a newborn again. With my first baby, I didn't find out about this book until she was 8 months old, and it was a life saver! But the sleep training was brutal, though absolutely worth it! She started going to bed at 6p and sleeping through the night! Now she's 3 and still goes to bed by 7:30p without any trouble. I am hoping that starting out from the begining with my newborn will be a little easier.
Profile Image for Nikki.
109 reviews4 followers
January 26, 2021
I learned a few things, but overall this book is awful. It’s repetitive. I know this is purposeful, but it’s excessively so. I also found it condescending. It feels like he thinks mothers should stay home.

I would recommend The Happiest Baby on the Block for newborns to three months.
Profile Image for Kelly.
292 reviews
October 24, 2017
This book was a life-changer for my husband and me when our daughter turned 4 months old, and we started working on self-soothing and sleep strategies with her. I did not read the book in entirety (reading only the intro chapters and the ones relevant to her age), but Weissbluth provided good information and many strategies for helping our little girl sleep better and learn to fall asleep on her own. His approach will not work for everyone, but it did for us - at least with this kiddo. Dislikes: 1) Weissbluth needs an editor... or a better one if he has one. 2) Information is sometimes kind of confusing to find in the book even with a lengthy index. 3) Pet peeve, but is it really necessary to have a legal disclaimer next to EVERY mention of co-sleeping and its risk of increasing SIDS (even those on the SAME page)?
Profile Image for Katie.
75 reviews5 followers
February 19, 2020
I agree that this book isn’t very well organized and offers way more research and data than is necessary but it was incredibly helpful for me and my family. After two days of implementing the strategies in the book our 5 month old son went from waking 8-10x each night to waking twice to eat and going straight back to sleep. It feels like a miracle. Also I have gotten somewhat obsessed with infant sleep at this point so all the detail in the book was fascinating for me. I didn’t read every word of this book but read almost every section and there’s a lot of good material. The only issue is it’s hard to remember how to go back and look it up because the book is organized so strangely and there is a lot of repetitive information.
Profile Image for Kate.
163 reviews43 followers
February 12, 2017
В общем, это, конечно, всё очень интересно, но смысла кроме "надо спать, а не спать не надо" я извлечь не смогла.
И практических советов касательно моей трёхмесячной плюшки тоже.
Profile Image for Ensley.
105 reviews3 followers
January 31, 2019
Buy this book for every expectant mom you know! Our pediatrician recommended this book and it’s been a lifesaver these first few weeks-knowing what’s normal, different sleep strategies, etc.
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