I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, sleep is the holy grail of parenting. Adequate, quality sleep is essential for children’s growth and development. Poor or insufficient sleep can contribute to a host of child health problems. And, we all know how the mood of a household can plummet when kids (and therefore parents) aren’t sleeping well. But, achieving adequate sleep for all family members is, at times, a daunting and difficult task. In honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, I thought it would be a good time to provide a sleep syllabus of sorts. So, here it is- a list of resources for tired parents facing sleep difficulties. I hope you will find it useful.
The newborn period: One of my very first blog posts, Resting Easy, focuses on safe sleep in the newborn period based on the AAP’s recent sleep guidelines. It is now accompanied by wonderful readers’ comments about their own sleep experiences and the importance of empowering parents to trust their instincts when it comes to sleep.
This is one area that truly depends on your parenting style and your child’s personality. As our son approached four months of age, a time when most experts agree a baby is physiologically able to sleep through the night, I found Marc Weissbluth’s book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child helpful, and I’ve come back to it a few times since then. I must confess we did not follow any one method to the letter, instead finding a happy medium that worked for us. But, Dr. Weissbluth provides a good overview of sleep physiology and needs at each age, with some flexibility in approach to sleep based on child and parent temperament.
A wonderful recent collaboration between Seattle Mama Doc, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, and pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist, Dr. Craig Canapari, provides useful suggestions for those with toddlers who still have trouble with night (or early morning) awakenings. Their posts 4 Reasons Toddlers Wake Up at Night and Early Morning Awakenings feel particularly relevant to my life right now.
Drs. Julie Kardos and Naline Lai from Two Peds in a Pod have some great tips for keeping school-age children well rested and ready to learn in their post, “Wake Up Sleepy-Head, It’s Time for School!”
Finally, for those times when you’re tired and/or overwhelmed and you just aren’t sure you’re doing this sleep thing “right”, Dr. Claire McCarthy and Dr. Melissa Arca are here to provide some reassurance. Dr. Claire confesses she is a pediatrician, who also happens to be a “sleep softie” in her lovely recent post. Dr. Melissa encourages us to follow our own parental intuition and get some rest in her article entitled “I Support Sleep, That is All“. She writes, “Whenever I answer parents’ questions about sleep, I first ask this: are you okay with your current sleeping arrangement and is the sleeping area safe? If yes to both…forget the negative chatter, ditch the guilt, and carry on.”
Okay, dear readers, now it’s your turn. Please help me add to this list. What has your “sleep experience” been? What resources have helped your family sleep better?