I made a mental note to re-read the bits on sleep before my next child. I've only two more months before I can practice what I've read here, but I still feel like I'll forget the main points, so I wrote them all down. Here I sum up the key points from her chapter "Doing Her Nights."
Of course with this list you miss out on Druckerman's wherefores and hows and examples, and her engaging writing. So consider this as a refresher course for those who read the book. Or perhaps it will whet the appetites of others to read her book.
- Believe a baby is a person who is capable of learning things and coping with frustration. Frustration is good for babies – it makes children more secure.
- It is good for parents and babies when they sleep through the night, and they can do this from 2-4 months of age.
- Babies need to be by themselves. Babies who learn to play by themselves in the day will be more content in the crib alone at night. Consider that babies need privacy – times when they are awake without any needs and all alone.
- Place value on the parents' quality of life and not just the child's welfare.
- It's the parents' job to teach babies to sleep well. Teaching a baby to sleep is a first lesson on self-reliance and enjoying one's own company.
- The one most crucial thing is to do "le pause" – wait when your baby starts crying. Give them a chance to self-soothe. Observe them first. When babies cry, they are telling us something – listen to figure it out.
- Babies make lots of noise in their sleep – they may be moving, but they are still sleeping. Don't think of these movements or noises as a call to you.
- Babies wake up between their sleep cycles (about every 2 hrs) and they must learn to connect these sleep cycles on their own. They can learn this between two and three months old. Intervening between cycles leads to sleep problems.
- Teach babies the difference between night and day by refraining from holding, rocking, nursing the baby to sleep in the evenings.
- Between midnight and 5am, re-swaddle, pat, re-diaper, walk… Only if the baby continues crying should you nurse.
- If you miss the 4-mo window for "sleep teaching," you must do "sleep training" – having the baby cry-it-out. Either go "cold turkey" or take it in stages, and it will succeed in a few days. As you do this, explain to the child what you're about to do. Consistency is key.