Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2017
Our 7-month old attachment baby stopped sleeping well at 3 months (due to early teething pain, sleep “regressions”, developmental milestones, etc.). I read lots of books (The No-Cry Sleep Solution, The Natural Sleep Solution, Dr. Sears Baby Book sections on ‘nighttime parenting’, this book), book reviews, many websites, and watched many YouTube videos on what worked for other people. We tried many, many ‘passive’ techniques (tank up with solids/nurse during the day and soon before bedtime, keep a consistent bedtime routine, lots of naps during the day following “The Natural Sleep Solution” book recommendations, wear her down in baby carrier, introduce a lovey, lots of stimulation during day/walks or outings when we can in winter, place her in a swing/glider swing/vibrating bouncer chair, use white noise machines, have good air circulation/appropriate room temperature, dress in all cotton clothing, use light darkening shades, rock in our arms in a gliding rocking chair, nurse). Yet, the MOMENT we transferred her into her crib she would wake up, flip out, and we’d have to start all over again. After a few hours of this, she would finally go down but continue to wake nearly every hour or hour and a half during the night. We also tried more ‘active’ techniques (lay down in our bed next to her crib (attached to our bed in a ‘sidecar’ arrangement), give her our pinkie finger (she refuses a pacifier), rubbing/patting her back, shushing, verbally soothing, picking her up/putting her down, slowly moving further from the crib towards the door, etc. These ‘active’ methods made her more upset. Basically, we became so sleep deprived after 3 months that it was unsafe/unhealthy for us as individuals and as parents.
At around 6 months, we ended up bed-sharing (previously had used an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper and a sidecar crib arrangement once she grew out of that). There are lots of resources about how to do it safely despite the downsides (I had to go to “bed” when she did between at 7pm and even when exhausted it was hard to shut off my brain so early, if I got up at all during night she would wake up and freak out, my back would get sore in one position in an effort to not move and disturb her, I couldn't change positions to get comfortable, she woke up more often to nurse frequently which woke me up/strained my back more). Even with co-sleeping, it still literally took hours to get her down initially. Even with these issues that we were willing to work with, the bigger problem was daytime naps, which are tightly related to nighttime sleeping. Previously, she only napped in our arms (swaddled) while being rocked. My husband (who works half time from home and watches her basically full time) literally spent half his day holding/rocking her. Which is great to some extent - he loves being with her - but he couldn’t get any work done and was stressed all the time about deadlines. In addition, she seemed to be getting uncomfortable always napping on one of us since she woke up a lot, fussed going down even in our arms, and didn’t seem to be getting enough sleep (even with 4 naps a day). She was tired all the time even after just waking from a nap. We needed to make a change. Since a lot of development happens while babies sleep, we knew she needed to get more than she was getting and we had pretty much exhausted all other methods that I thought would work.
As I mentioned above, I had researched all the ‘sleep training’ methods since every baby is different and there are literally a million ways to help your baby soothe her/himself. We tried mixing active methods together (pick up/put down, fading) that we felt comfortable with, but nothing worked (i.e., that minimized her crying and helped her fall asleep) until we implemented the strategies in the Sleep Easy Solution. I reiterate that we are attachment parents, and adhere most of the recommendations by Dr. Sears. We both work from home and so we are the primary caretakers of our child; one of us is always taking care of her. I was heartbroken when we realized sleep was going to be an issue. I was inconsolable the first time we tried other active methods and was depressed thinking about doing anything more. But it became clear that our health and her development was suffering since she wasn’t getting the sleep she desperately needed and she was getting frustrated she didn’t know how to soothe herself. This book claims a “Least Cry” method, as opposed to the full on ‘Cry it Out’ aka full extinction method, and even thought I was VERY skeptical at first, I now agree.
We tackled nighttime sleeping first. Since we have only 1 bedroom, one thing that was key for us to create some distance (even just visibly) between us and her so she didn’t get upset when she saw us and we weren’t actively soothing her. So I recommend using some sort of room divider or something so the baby feels safe in their own space. After our bedroom was set up, our strategy was to: do our regular nighttime routine (bath —> change into PJs —> wear in baby carrier while shutting off lights/saying goodnight to things/singing —> nurse —> rock and sing) and put down in crib (takes about 30-40 minutes). We felt like rocking was still ok because that’s always been a sleep cue for her since birth and a lot of other routines amp her up (we cannot do a bedtime story for that reason). We followed the recommendations in this book (and our ped doc) and decided on check intervals to verbally soothe her at 5, 10, and 15 minutes and then every 15 minutes until she fell asleep.
After our bedtime routine my husband laid her in the crib and said his verbal soothes. My husband did all the checks because I felt she would get more fussy seeing me and not getting some more soothing/soothing, (it’s too overwhelming for the baby if both partners do the checks). He used a soothing/calm/relaxed voice and always said the same things. She cried for the first 15 minutes (harder immediately after he left the room), but after the first two checks (so, during the first 15 minute stretch), she quieted down and was asleep by the time my husband went in for the 15 minute check. We got her up to feed her right before we went to bed around 11:00pm. THAT FIRST NIGHT, she slept through the night. The second night she fussed for 10 minutes, and the third night she fussed for two. Now she usually fusses for about 30 seconds before falling asleep, and sometimes she doesn’t fuss at all. I was absolutely convinced this process would be a lot harder for her, given her sleeping routine since birth, and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. I know there are no “quick fixes” and there will be ups and downs, but after 3 nights she was basically soothing herself (with some hiccups), we are all sleeping through the night, and generally everyone is much happier and healthier. We are able to enjoy our awake times with our daughter more. We no longer dread the evening.
Naps (like the book admits) are much harder to work out than nighttime sleeping. I appreciated that this book discussed nighttime sleeping AND daytime naps. If we time a nap right, she only fusses for about 2 minutes and sometimes not at all, but she can fuss anywhere from 2 minutes to 10 minutes. She sometimes wakes up in the middle of a nap, fusses, and falls back asleep. Currently we are on day 6 of naps, and some days are great and some days are less than great. But she is sleeping more soundly, for longer durations, than she ever did in our arms. So, it’s a work in progress.
The methods in this book worked for us, and I do recommend it.