My review of The Happy Sleeper by Turgeon & Wright, a gentle sleep training book that promotes good sleep hygiene and bedtime routines for toddlers.
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The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright
Today I’m writing about the sleep book I personally recommend to all of my friends. I’ve turned to The Happy Sleeper many times as my child has reached different sleep milestones. I consulted it when I wanted to help her sleep through the night. When the pain of teething interrupted her sleep, I turned to this book. As I considered when to shorten or eliminate naps, I read about age-specific sleep needs as outlined by the authors. The Happy Sleeper has helped me to better understand infant sleep overall, using a gentle approach backed by scientific research.
I understand that infant sleep is a sensitive topic. There are many different strategies out there for helping infants sleep better and longer. A strategy that works for one baby may not work for another. In my research, I found that sleep philosophies may even impact many baby gear purchases. For instance, once I figured out that noise machines are strongly associated with the recommendations of one popular sleep book, I realized I didn’t need to buy one. (My Latchy Catchy was enough to quiet my baby’s sleep environment for me!)
Whether you’ve read several sleep books or haven’t ventured into the topic at all, I hope this post will be helpful as you consider your baby’s sleep needs.
Read The Happy Sleeper During Your Pregnancy
If at all possible, I recommend reading this book during your pregnancy. I wish I had! It would be so helpful to know about different sleep approaches, discuss them with your partner, and go in with a plan in place. I felt intimidated by sleep books because I assumed the methods would be harsh. The truth is there are many different approaches to this topic!
A Gentle Approach to Sleep
I found The Happy Sleeper when I was looking for a sleep book that wasn’t based on a Cry It Out method. The Happy Sleeper is a research-based guide to helping children sleep. The book discusses health sleep hygiene and emphasizes creating a healthy sleep environment for your child. That sleep environment is the foundation of their approach.
The authors setup this approach in the first two chapters. They discuss important topics such as how to tell when your child is getting enough sleep and signs of a sleep-deprived child as a foundation for their sleep philosophy.
The next several chapters are organized by age. Your baby’s sleep routine will change as she grows. In these chapters, you’ll read about your child’s sleep needs at different stages of her development. You’ll find strategies here to improve your child’s sleep habits that are developmentally appropriate.
The final three chapters focus on special sleep situations, why parents need sleep too, and the science of sleep. I found these chapters helpful and easy to digest. They increased my understanding of sleep throughout the lifespan.
Of course, the approach outlined in The Happy Sleeper is not for everyone. It does work for me, and it has worked for some of my friends. The strategies in this book are intended for sleep training babies at a developmentally appropriate time. We implemented the strategies when our baby was six months old. We moved her out of our bedroom, and within days she slept through the night.
One of my favorite suggestions from The Happy Sleeper is to give your child a transitional object when she reaches an appropriate age. Our daughter’s transitional object is a bunny lovey like this one. We introduced this lovey when our daughter was six months old. She loves her sweet bunny. (In case you are wondering, we have two that we alternate!)
I found the sleep charts included in appendix to be particularly helpful. These charts helped me to create my daily routine with my baby, anticipating when she might need a nap. I loved the book’s advice to follow my baby, not a schedule. From six to twelve months, I structured her naps in intervals based on when she woke up for the day. This added flexibility and order to our days at the same time.
The sleep charts also helped me to firmly establish an earlier bedtime. My baby goes to bed at 7:30pm and sleeps almost twelve full hours!
Of course, every child is different and that what worked for me may not work for you.
Why I Think This Book Is Important For Both Parents To Read
Being on the same page about sleep will really help when you encounter sleep challenges. If you’re both aware of good sleep hygiene, know your baby’s sleep cues, and approach naps and bedtime with sensitivity to your baby’s developmental needs, this will help create harmony and consistency in your home.
During my pregnancy I didn’t want to read sleep books because I assumed I wouldn’t find a sleep philosophy that worked for me. I was skeptical about sleep training of any kind. I read The Happy Sleeper out of a desire to better understand infant sleep, and walked away with lots of useful tips that have helped me create a healthy environment for my child.
Looking for more book recommendations? Let me know, and I will write more reviews of parenting books I’ve found helpful and interesting!
P.S. You can read about my very favorite item for infant sleep here.
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My name is Kate and I live in a California beach town with my husband & baby girl. At High Low Baby, I review baby products at high and low price points.
Might just have to read up on this. We bedshare, and at 15 months, it’s getting a bit crowded! He’s a great sleeper, will sleep just about anywhere, except a crib. Hoping to have him moved into his own room and bed by 2 years (fingers crossed!)
It’s definitely worth checking out! The Dockatot also really helped us transition to the crib as an intermediate solution.