Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Helping Your Toddler to Sleep

Helping Your Toddler to Sleep: an easy-to-follow guide by Siobhan Mulholland. Vermilion, 2009, 64 pages, £6.99 UK.

Brief overview of content:

This handy little book covers all the basics. It describes the sleep cycles (REM, non-REM and its divisions) and how much sleep a toddler typically gets at night and during nap time. Sleeping in a cot (i.e. a crib in American English) or on a bed or co-sleeping with parents are compared. Bedtime routines are emphasized and described. What the parent can do during the day to help get a good night's sleep and what to do in the middle of the night to keep the child asleep are dealt with in separate chapters. Obstacles like illness, teething, separation anxiety, nightmares, etc. are described as well as methods to deal with them. Other changing circumstances like getting a new brother/sister, returning to work, starting nursery or daycare, and moving are also discussed. A list of useful resources in the UK and an index are provided at the end of the book.

Author overview:

Blurb from the Amazon.com listing: "Siobhan Mulhulland is an occasional contributor on health and parenting to the Times, Telegraph and the Financial Times. She writes regularly on travel for the Independent newspaper. She has done stints as Deputy Editor, Features Editor and as a columnist for the parenting magazine Junior. She is also a TV producer and channel commissioning editor. She lives in West London with her husband and three young children."


1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

At 64 pages, anyone can easily read this cover to cover, especially considering there's lots of pictures too. The book has an index so it's easy to look something up.

2. Readability.

Light and easy to follow (as the title suggests), this book reads swiftly and has plenty of helpful bulletted lists. The only off-putting part may be the UK terms for things--"nappies" for "diapers," "cot" for "crib," etc. I didn't immediately realize a cot is a crib, but it isn't hard to figure out such things.

3. Helpful to a parent?

This is a great high-level overview of sleeping issues for toddlers and how to solve them. Definitely a great place to start. There's an index and also a "Useful Addresses" section that lists various resources in the UK for parents, like The National Childbirth Trust and the Association for Post-Natal Illness. So it is definitely helpful to any parent, but more so to parents living in the UK.

4. Did we use it?

One piece of advice on cutting back bedtime bottles was to add water in increasing amounts to the milk until the child is drinking only water (that way there's no extra calories and protein fueling their wakefulness). We are trying that right now on Lucy, who demands bottle after bottle at bedtime. It seems to be working.

Sample text

On the importance of exercise:

Children need to exercise every day. They need it for fitness and for development, so they can put all their recently acquired mobility skills to the test: crawling, walking, climbing and running. Aim for about an hour of moderate exercise a day. This could be a run round the garden, a trip to the park, a walk to the local shops and back. Any trip out of the house for a little person is a major outing; it's an adventure in itself that your child will find fascinating. And plenty of physical exercise during the day will certainly help your child fall asleep easily at night and stay asleep. [p. 30]

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