Helping your baby to sleep is a book about being kind and gentle to your baby: a persuasive philosophy in anyone’s book. It is divided into two sections: the science of responsive parenting, and the practice of gently encouraging a baby to sleep. Its starting point is very much the argument that “bringing about change by causing a child to be distressed can never be considered a success.” (p.xxi)
Like many, many such books, authors Gethin and MacGregor explain the mechanisms of sleep: cycles of sleep, survival needs, and what exactly does “normal” mean, anyway? Each chapter has a nice summary of key points, useful if you are reading this as a sleep-deprived parent.
Having laid out the scientific support for responsive parenting, the case against sleep training in chapter four makes complete logical sense, if somewhat distressing reading in places.
Moving on to the practical section, they offer a range of “slow fixes” for helping babies to settle and parents to get a less disturbed night, appropriate for different ages and situations, as well as a chapter addressing most of the common sleep difficulties that parents experience.
The book finishes with a helpful section on self-care and support for parents, which really needs to be threaded throughout lest parents give up reading while it all still sounds rather onerous. Of course parents want to be gentle and responsive, but attachment parenting books can appear to ask a lot of parents at a challenging time in their lives. It really helps to have the science of brain development and attachment so clearly laid out, alongside quotations and ideas from other parents. The cartoon on page 130 seems very apt. Buy it and see for yourself!