Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep

Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep

by Jodi A. Mindell
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Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep by Jodi A. Mindell

Right after "Is it a boy or a girl?" and "What's his/her name?," the next question people invariably ask new parents is "Are you getting any sleep?" Unfortunately, the answer is usually "Not much." In fact, studies show that approximately 25% of young children experience some type of sleep problem and, as any bleary-eyed parent will attest, it is one of the most difficult challenges of parenting.

Drawing on her ten years of experience in the assessment and treatment of common sleep problems in children, Dr. Jodi A. Mindell now provides tips and techniques, the answers to commonly asked questions, and case studies and quotes from parents who have successfully solved their children's sleep problems.

Unlike other books on the subject, Dr. Mindell also offers practical tips on bedtime, rather than middle-of-the-night-sleep training, and shows how all members of the family can cope with the stresses associated with teaching a child to sleep.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060742560
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/15/2005
Edition description: Revised Edition
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 291,838
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D., is associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, is professor of psychology at Saint Joseph's University, and is the author of numerous publications on pediatric sleep disorders. She lives with her family in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Help, my baby won't sleep!"

An Introduction to Sleep and Sleep Problems

Susan's daughter, Elisa, has never slept through the night. She falls asleep sometime between 7:30 and 10:00, sleeps for a few hours, then wakes up and begins crying. In order to fall back asleep, Elisa needs Susan to rock her. This pattern has been repeated every single night at least twice a night since Elisa came home, nineteen months ago. One Tuesday night a few weeks ago Elisa slept from 10:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. According to Susan, "It was a miracle." Susan and her husband are both at their wit's end. They have fought frequently about this problem, and at this point they are both too tired to function, let alone enjoy being parents.

Right after "Is it a boy or a girl?" and "What is her name?" the next question that veteran parents ask is "Is she sleeping through the night?" The above scenario describes the situation faced by many parents of infants and toddlers. Study after study has shown that approximately 25 percent of all young children experience some type of sleep problem. Most of the time these problems are related to getting to sleep and then sleeping through the night.

Sleep, or the lack thereof, is a critical aspect of childrearing. Good babies sleep. Most babies don't. As long as you get enough sleep, a parent can deal with just about anything during the day. However, when it is 4:00 in the morning and you have just been awakened for the third time and are facing a screaming baby, all sanity goes out the window. It would try anybody's patience. What parents resort to is even more incredible. Many parents, as they are circling the block in theircar at 3:30 in the morning wearing only their pajamas and mismatching socks, with their baby sleeping peacefully in the car seat, try to imagine how they are going to explain this behavior if pulled over by a police officer.

Sleep--What Is It?

Everyone sleeps. Humans sleep, toads sleep, monkeys sleep, dogs sleep, and whales sleep. Perhaps all species sleep. But, surprisingly, we know very little about sleep. Although sleep researchers understand the mechanisms of sleep and what happens to the brain and body when we do sleep, we still do not know why we sleep. What is sleep's function? No one knows. Some believe it is a restorative function. Others believe that it is for energy conservation. And even others believe that it is adaptive, that it enhances survival. We do know that everyone has to sleep. People cannot function without it. The body craves sleep if too much time has gone by without it. People also don't feel like themselves if they haven't gotten enough sleep. So while we are not exactly sure what it is, we know that we all need to sleep.

One aspect of sleep that is well understood is that many people have sleep disorders. Approximately 25 percent to 30 percent of adults have some type of sleep problem, whether it is insomnia, sleepwalking, or just too little sleep. Babies and toddlers also have sleep problems. Some are quite serious, such as sleep apnea, whereas most are just difficult to deal with, such as bedtime problems or frequent night wakings.

Since sleep is a natural process, we must all know how to sleep. However, good sleeping habits must be developed. And sleep, especially falling asleep, involves a number of behaviors. These behaviors are what become problematic for many babies and toddlers. Babies learn to fall asleep in specific circumstances, such as being rocked, lying in a crib, or being pushed in a carriage. It is these specific circumstances that may or may not lead to a baby's sleep problems; that is, many babies develop good sleep habits, whereas other babies develop poor sleep habits. These issues will be addressed more thoroughly throughout this book.

Why Doesn't My Baby Sleep?

As discussed above, sleep problems in young children are much more common than you may think. Every study has consistently shown that between 25 percent and 30 percent of infants and toddlers have some type of sleep disturbance. That is a large number of children. If you put ten infants in a room, three or four of them will have some difficulty sleeping, which means that you are certainly not alone if you have problems with your baby's sleep.

Of course, if the other six or seven babies in the room sleep fine, then you may ask yourself, Why does my child have a problem? First of all, and most important, it seems there is a biological predisposition to having sleep problems. This means that some babies are more susceptible to sleep problems. Some babies start sleeping through the night within weeks of coming home from the hospital and never have a sleep problem. Others never seem to get a good night's sleep. Thus, some babies seem to be "sleepers" and some babies are not. Some babies have more difficulty learning to fall asleep, are more easily aroused from sleep, and are more sensitive to changes in routines that affect their sleep patterns. I once heard a parent joke that when she ordered her next baby, she was going to check the "sleeper" box. Many parents feel that way.

Some parents blame themselves for their child's sleep problems. Some believe that if they just hadn't rocked him to sleep as an infant, he would be fine. Others feel that they let their child sleep in bed with them for too long, and that is what caused all their baby's problems. And, unfortunately, the truth is that parents often do play a role in their child's sleep problems. They may have inadvertently maintained the poor sleep habits that contributed to their child's sleep problems. But a baby's sleep problems are not entirely the parents' fault. The baby also contributes. Many babies are rocked or nursed to sleep, and sleep fine. They go to sleep quickly and don't wake during the night. It is apparent, then, that the same parenting behavior can lead to sleep problems in some babies and not in others. Parents therefore need to change their behavior only if their baby has a problem sleeping through the night.

Predictors of Sleep Problems

In addition to a biological predisposition, there are certain things that make a child at risk for sleep problems. Being "at risk" means that a higher percent of these children will develop a sleep problem. Below are a number of things that can contribute to a baby having a sleep problem.

Firstborn. Firstborns are more at risk for sleep problems. Why? Probably because parents are more anxious with their first child. This is their first time at parenting, and they are usually more concerned about whether they are doing it right or wrong. They tend to be much less tolerant of their child's cries and have more time to devote to their first child. They also find it easier to take the time to get up and rock the baby back to sleep in the middle of the night. Later, when the family is larger, it seems more important to set a definitive bedtime. When it is bedtime, everyone goes to bed. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And it is rare to have the luxury of rocking later-born children to sleep or nursing them to sleep when you are trying to get everyone into pajamas with teeth brushed and so on.

Sex. Boys are more likely to develop a sleep problem than girls. We do not know exactly why that is, but overall boys are more at risk for many things. For example, boys are more at risk to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), are more at risk to be hyperactive, and are more likely to develop some illnesses. It also seems that parents treat boys differently. Studies show that parents are less likely to be consistent in the way they treat boys. While parents are likely to respond to a girl baby the same way every time, they are more likely to change their responses to a boy baby. For example, when Mark's baby, Adam, cries after falling down, sometimes he picks him up but other times he ignores him and lets him try to stand up again on his own. If Adam was a girl, studies show that Mark would be more likely to always pick her up or to always ignore her. No one knows why parents differ in their behavior in this way, but this type of inconsistency can lead to sleep problems.

Colic or ear infections. Children with colic or frequent ear infections are much more likely to have sleep problems. These babies have sleep problems primarily because they get into the bad habit of waking during the night when they aren't feeling well. Then, even when they are feeling better, they may still wake during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep without parental intervention. For the parents, it is difficult to determine whether their baby is still in pain from an ear infection or is just having problems sleeping.

Same bed or room. Studies have shown that almost all children who sleep in the same bed or in the same room as their parents wake during the night. Chapter 5 explains why this happens.

Breast-feeding. Breast-fed babies are also more likely to take longer to sleep through the night. One study found that 52 percent of breast-fed infants, but only 20 percent of bottle-fed infants, wake during the night. A complete discussion on breast-feeding and sleep can be found in Chapter 7.

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Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book i've read so far about sleep management. Helped enormously. My daughter is 18 months old, and we had a huge problem, waking up 3-6 times a night, needing to rock her back to sleep. It would take me an hour to rock her to sleep at bedtime, only to get back to rocking an hour or two later. I literraly was falling apart with, always sleepy and tired. Now she falls asleep herself, and when she wakes up at night she gets back to sleep herself... The book not only describes the method , but explanes what to do in different situations, that might get in the way of sleep training, like vacations or when the baby is sick. Explanations are thorough and well researched. I wish I got this book earlier!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful for new parents and parents-to-be. It is my new favorite baby shower gift! I read it after reading several other baby books (Dr. Sears, Babywise), and I found this one much more informative, practical, and instructional. The thing that I REALLY like about this is that it is based on RESEARCH- not opinion. Dr. Mindell shares what is proven to have worked for so many babies & children, not what someone "thinks" is sensible. I follow all of her instructions now, and my 7 month old is sleeping 12-13 hours per night and his naps are progressively getting better and better!
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Currently I am the parent of a infant and this book seems better for parents of toddlers.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I followed the guidance in this book. As a new mom, serious about nursing and working full time with a traveling husband I needed her helpful advice. We followed the steps when he was 10 weeks old and it worked beautifully. Yes it is hard to hear your baby cry for a couple nights, but how can you be a good mom if you are exhausted and cranky? Even though he was a breast fed baby for one year, he slept great! Her helpful advice suited my parenting philosophy too. I remember thinking 'wow - he is 12 weeks old and he can fall asleep on his empowering for him'. Now he is over two years old and he goes down so easily and happily with his nightime routine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book supports what I believe as a mother---teach my baby how to fall asleep on her own without having to depend on feeding or sleeping in my bed. This basic principle carries over into other areas: if a baby never learns to soothe him or herself, there will be a lot of dependence and anxiety in other situations down the road. I have a family member who has three children all sleeping in mommy and daddy's bed, ages 13, 9, and 6, because proper sleep habits were never taught. Am I advocating 'crying it out'? No. If my baby cries for more than ten minutes, I return to the room to soothe her. But I don't have to do that often. This book's practical guidance has worked wonders for us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After 4 1/2 months of not sleeping enough (baby included) we have had three nights of sleep filled bliss. I know that it is hard to listen to your baby cry, but he/she stands to benefit so much from plenty of sleep and the ability to soothe themself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After battling with my 1st born son with sleep issues, I needed a solution for my second son. I read all of the popular sleep solution books and had no luck. I stumbled upon this book, of course very skeptical, and I found all of the answers I needed. Before I read the book, he was taking about 2 or 3 - 20 minute naps and waking up once or twice a night at 7 months old. After following Dr. Mindell's advice, within 2 or 3 nights, my son was sleeping 12 hours a night and taking one or two 2hour naps a day. Her approach is gentle and she gives reasons why children cry,etc. which made me feel better. I also liked how she lets the parent choose how long to wait before going in to check on your child. I recommend this book to all of my friends and have bought it for baby gifts for new parents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a rephrased Ferber - how to let your baby cry to sleep and not feel guilty about it. Better to listen to your heart on this topic and go for a more gentle approach than this difficult, cry-inducing method.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We visited Dr. Mindell in her pediatric sleep disorders clinic at CHOP when our daughter was having sleep problems, and Dr. Mindell's no-nonsense approach toward helping our daughter solved the problem within a week. 'Sleeping Through the Night' is a must-read for any new parent. Dr. Mindell's advice and guidelines are straight-forward (no cutesy language here) and to the point, but more importantly, they work. It helps to understand the nature of sleep, how children (and adults) sleep, and how to help your child sleep better and through the night so that you can sleep better! If your infant or toddler is a poor sleeper, or if you're expecting and want to get a jumpstart on establishing healthy sleep patterns with your newborn, order this book NOW.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are having trouble getting your child to sleep through the night, invest in this book. It will give you a step-by-step plan to solve that problem and change your life for the better. We used it with our 15 mo old son who was waking 4-5 times a night. It took 4 nights, an iron will on our part, and some crying (but not NEARLY as much as we had anticipated), and the plan worked. Our son now sleeps 10+ hrs through the night, bedtime is a breeze, and so is nap time! Without this book, I think I would have needed professional help on many different levels- I was just so sleep deprived!! Now, I feel like my old pre-baby self. My son is better for it, my marriage is better for it, and my sanity is better for it. Ideally, you should read this before your child is born, but otherwise, it is helpful to any parent having any issue with sleeping through the night, napping, early waking, transitioning from parent's bed to crib, or from crib to toddler bed. Very comprehensive and also an easy read- even for the severely sleep deprived parets out there!!!! I've read all the baby sleep books out there (believe me), and this was by far the best and most-practical. It is also very middle-of-the-road in its approach!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son is 10 months old and has never slept well. My husband and I both work, and all this book did was make us feel guilty for not having our son nap in his crib for all of his naps at the same time every day, and for 'gulp' allowing our son to sleep in our bed at times. I didn't have a child so that I could listen to his cries in order for me to get some more sleep. Also, this book promotes formula feeding instead of breast feeding and actually seems to advise parents to formula feed if they want their baby to sleep well! How absurd! A healthy baby is much more important than uninterrupted sleep!