Top positive review
Great method, very effective for us; still not a miracle
Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2016
This book worked wonders for our very challenging sleeper. However, it's not a miracle. Here is my synopsis of why this book gets 4 stars, not 5.
First and foremost, the important lesson to take away from all these sleep books is that you as a parent need to do what feels right for you, and if allowing your baby to cry at all is too painful for you, you need to listen to that. Some of the advice in this book didn't work for us, and I am relieved I didn't feel like I had to follow it. But overall, this book made a lot of sense to me. Other reviewers criticize it as cry-it-out ("CIO") in disguise, but here's why I strongly disagree. CIO--whether leaving your baby to cry for an hour without checking on her, or ferberizing (patting and soothing after consistent time increments)--risks leaving your baby scared or confused. Full-blown CIO means your baby is alone for a long stretch of time until she stops crying and is forced to learn to fall asleep independently. All my friends who have done this say it's very effective and it happens fast. But to me, I felt like my baby would feel scared, like I abandoned her and was never coming back. Ferberizing seemed like an acceptable alternative, but the Happy Sleeper makes a compelling case for why it's actually harder for your baby: you leave her for five/seven/whatever minutes and she protests, then you come in and pat and shush her so she gets a glimmer of hope that you'll take over and make it all better, then you leave again. So, even though she's not feeling abandoned, she's confused, and you're actually actively preventing her from self-soothing.
Enter the sleep wave. Your baby sees you there every five minutes and does not feel abandoned, yet does not get confused (as she does with Ferberizing), because you're telling her she is responsible for teaching herself to sleep. I know in my case the first two or three nights were torturous, but it was clear to me that my baby was not scared, just MAD. Within just a couple days of implementing this method, my daughter became a visibly and palpably happier baby. Now she's 16 months old, and although she's super attached to me and cries when I leave for work, she sleeps through the night consistently and always is very happy when I put her in her crib. She has very strong sleep skills, and I owe that to this book. I wish we'd had it for my older daughter too, who still has night wakings and is almost 5!
I do want to note that, at least for us, the baby learned the sleep skills she needed for nighttime sleep very quickly, but solid napping did not happen for a few months. I don't think this has anything to do with the book; just know that consistent naps tend to take longer.
I do have a few critiques of this book. First, the 0-4 month chapter (the soothing ladder, I think they called it?) is pretty unrealistic. The first few steps on the ladder never ever worked, and I imagine most people will have the same experience, unless they have a remarkably chill baby. Second, if you are a nursing mom who works outside of the home, I'd read the section about night weaning with healthy skepticism. While your baby might not need the calories in the middle of the night, you and your baby might need the connection; moreover, shaving off one minute every other night seems like a great idea to prevent a drop in milk production, but ultimately if your body is connecting to a pump most of the day and not nursing the baby at night, your milk supply will drop. Finally, I found the sections on dropping naps to be unhelpful and underdeveloped. I had a really hard time navigating the 3- to 2-nap transition, as well as the 2- to 1-nap transition, and was disappointed to find this book had little advice.