One woman's path through doula training, childrearing, and a computer science Ph. D. program

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book report: Nighttime Parenting

Sears, W., Nighttime Parenting, 1985

My score

My review

It is a little old, but the lessons discussed in Nighttime Parenting are still valid today. In fact, I think this little book became an entire chapter in The Baby Book, part of the Sears library. Nighttime Parenting urges parents to try co-sleeping (that is, sleeping in the same bed with their children). Sears argues that babies and toddlers do not and should not be expected to sleep through the night; that nighttime nursing is essential for their emotional development; that parenting does not end with the setting of the sun, but continues into nighttime. Children should be "parented to sleep."

As a wholehearted supporter of co-sleeping, and of night nursing, I was amused to find among the pages of this book photographs depicting our exact sleeping arrangment throughout the last several months: first, a co-sleeper; usually, bed sharing; and finally, a crib attached to the queen-sized bed. I picked up this book (at a used book sale) for advice on how to handle constant nighttime nursing on night wakings, how to move the baby into the crib (which is attached to our highly-preferred bed), and tips on how to cut out some of the hourly (or less!) night nursings that had creeped into our nighttime routine. What I got was not answers, but instead support for whatever the baby decides is right for him, as long as it works for the parents.

So, does it work for the parents? It works, and it doesn't. There are nights that he wakes every two hours (which are the good nights) and nights in which he nurses nearly constantly. Although on average, we have found ways to deal with it, it could be better, and hence I am not over-eager to try other methods.

On the bad nights, nursing is punctuated with occasional yells. This book and others on the same topic suggest teething pain to be the culprit. Time heals all wounds, the books say. I guess we will wait it out and see what crumbles first: my steadfast support of co-sleeping, or the desire for daytime energy.

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