The book starts naturally enough with a discussion of what sleep is, the various stages of sleep (four stages of non-REM sleep and REM sleep). Next is a quick overview of ways for parents to manage their child's behavior, since this skill is of critical importance to implementing the changes recommended in the book. The book then focuses on establishing good sleeping habits with the child in the first few months, at bed time and in the bedroom (the child's bedroom or co-sleeping with the parents), and at nap time. The author describes steps for success, including how to cope with teaching a baby/toddler to sleep through the night. The author reviews various difficult situations that may arise or are of concern, like the child getting out of the crib or bed, waking up in the middle of the night or too early in the morning, or not falling asleep until late at night. She also discusses how to deal with disruptions to a sleep routine that naturally arise, like going on vacation or to a relative's house (with resulting changes to sleep conditions), toilet training, teething or illness. The book covers other basic sleep problems for children like snoring or sleep apnea, sleep walking, sleep terrors, regular old nightmares, and sleep talking. The author also reviews adult sleep disorders and difficulties at the end of the book.
Blurb from the back of the book: "Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D. is associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, is professor of psychology at Saint Joseph's University, and is the author of numerous publications on pediatric sleep disorders. She lives with her family in Rosemount, Pennsylvania."
1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.
After having read the whole book, it definitely is more worth while to consult as needed. While not an overly long book (337 pages, not including appendixes and index), it is a little repetitive and very detailed. When writing about various disorders and their treatments, she lists the current drugs used for treatment, often a long list of unpronounceable names (at least they seemed that way to me). Also, she throws in a lot of examples of individuals parents and children who either had or dealt with the problem she is discussing. While adding this detail humanizes the topic, it also makes for a longer read. Zombie parents just don't have that much time.
The book is well written and definitely the product of a scholarly mind. It isn't hard to read but all of it is a lot to read. I had to renew it twice at the library.
3. Helpful to a parent?
Yes, this book is definitely helpful if a parent needs advice or ideas on how to improve the sleep habits of a child. Lots of examples and encouragement to stick to the program are given throughout the book.
4. Did we use it?
One of the big issues in the book is to let the child learn to self-sooth to fall asleep. Once the child can do this, he or she can get back to sleep during the inevitable waking times throughout the night. If the parent doesn't allow the child to learn, the child will keep expecting parental interventions to get them to sleep. The first couple of times, the child may be awake and crying for up to an hour or more, which is tough on the parents. Even if the parent can't wait until the child falls asleep, the longer the parent can hold out, the better. I've been trying this with our daughter. The results have been greet, though I do have a tough time not going to intervene. I am learning when she cries out just to get attention versus when she cries because she really needs something (usually the pacifier she just threw out of the crib).
On establishing a regular bedtime: Five to ten minutes before bedtime should begin, let her know that bedtime is coming. That way she can finish the puzzle she is working on or stop the video at an appropriate place. By the time your child is eighteen months, this tactic will be helpful. Starting at such a young age will also help her begin to understand the concept of time. Some parents find it helpful to set a timer at the five-minute mark. This helps alleviate the pressure on the parent: "Hey, the timer says it is time to go to bed." This can carry you for a long time before your child realizes that you are the one who set the timer. [p. 84]