Book Review: Bed Timing

Review of Bed Timing by Marc Lewis, Ph.D. and Isabela Granic, Ph.D.

Remember a few weeks ago when someone in the comments mentioned that a sleep book had come out in Canada talking about  when you could make sleep changes and when you shouldn't try? This is the book. It turns out it's written by Ask Moxie readers, a wife and husband research team who are developmental psychologists and also parents of twins.

Now, right away I was more inclined to be excited about this book, because I figured that if they work together, they probably parent together, too. (My big beef, as most of you know, with the “expert” books written by male doctors is that they don't actually sound like that male doctor has done any sleep duty with any real kids. You know who I'm talking about.) And the twin thing meant that they had two different data points at the same time, so they were less likely to get attached to whatever thing happened to work with the first child. (Oh, the hubris—I know and the rest of you with two or more singletons may remember when you thought your first child was just The Way All Kids Are...)

But then, oh did my heart swell when I started reading and realized that they weren't telling you the One True Path to Sleep Nirvana. Instead, they'd done actual research into “what happens when” from a developmental point of view. And what they'd figured out is that there are certain times in which it's easier to make sleep changes, and certain times when you're pretty much assured of failure.

At this point I could maybe take the high road. But I won't: I told you so.

Yes, I told you so, all you pediatricians who just blindly parroted that parents should start sleep-training at four months. Because according to Lewis and Granic, four months is a bad time to sleep train. Ha! I said it's all about the sleep regression. Lewis and Granic have a whole lot more to say about it.

I, however, am not going to tell you everything they said, because I really want you to buy the book. And give it to every new parent or pregnant person or parent with a kid under the age of four that you know, because it will save you hours and hours of frustration and feeling like things are your fault. And then when you're about to hit a good window, you can spring into action and take advantage of it.

Did I mention there's a little pull-out chart in the back of the book that you could put on your refrigerator to tell you when are good times and bad times to make sleep changes? And it goes from birth to age 4?

The book also reviews “the pros and cons of popular sleep-training methods.” I thought these were pretty fair reviews of the most Hot Topic-type methods, and the anecdotes included were good, too. What the book doesn't tell you is which one to try with your kid. Apparently, you're supposed to—wait for it--pay attention and use your own parental instincts to figure out what's going to be best for your own child. <3 <3 <3

The funny thing about this book, I think, is that everyone who's tried any kind of sleep method is going to find both validation and some small suggestion to take offense to, somewhere in it. So, remember while you're reading it that what worked for you will just make things worse for someone else, and vice versa. Lewis and Granic are trying to tease that out, but it a positive way by listing all the options, and telling you when to try the ones YOU pick, and when to hold off. As with any parenting book, don't follow every single word literally. (Impossible to do with this little gem anyway, but worth repeating.)

I have a few copies of the book to give away. If you are interested, leave a comment about what has been the worst stage of sleep for you so far (if you're pregnant you can be talking about yourself). I'll draw a few (right after I finally draw for the Hungry Caterpillar) and email the winners, so leave a valid email and just put www.fake.com or www.google.com in the URL box.