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In this post, you’ll get a summary of each of the 15 most popular baby sleep training books, and you will discover what works for you.
Approximately 5 seconds after bringing their first bundle of joy home, all parents discover that a sleeping baby makes for much happier parenting! But some (most) babies just want to party with you all night.
Some babies might work this out on their own, but most will benefit from the parent(s) helping the baby learn the difference between nights and days.
As a brand new momma, I consulted several of the most popular infant sleep books. I started writing about what worked for us from the various methods on this blog. But I got so many questions! Eventually, I put together a short & sweet infant sleep guide of my own!!
If you want the fast track to the info you need about helping a newborn get on a good sleeping & eating routine (without any of the fluff), just go straight to my guide. Haha! I’m biased, but there’s a reason I wrote it. It’s simple, concise, yet comprehensive and will help you help your baby get on a healthy eating & sleeping routine.
Typically, parents that use my method from birth have their babies sleeping 8-12 hours through the night by 12-16 weeks old. (Hallelujah!!!)
If you are more of a give-me-all-the-details person, this blog post includes an overview of each of the 15 best baby sleep training booksm so you can find the one (or ones) that will help you with your little one’s unique sleep situation.
Let’s get started!
1. Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
If you’ve ever heard the term, “the fourth trimester”, you can thank Dr. Karp, who coined the phrase in this book. Dr. Karp is a pediatrician with years of experience helping parents with their newborns. His expertise has created a system that some say is like a magic “switch” – instantly helping fussy, crying babies get to sleep.
In his book you’ll learn about tools such as “the calming reflex” – the “switch” that stops a baby from crying in the first few months. Dr. Karp teaches parents how to do certain actions in the exact way they need to be done, which he calls “The Cuddle Cure.”
While it is a comfort to parents to have specific steps they can take to help calm their baby, all the steps and mechanics can be overwhelming and may overcomplicate things. (Which was one reason I wrote my own shorter, simpler book… so many of these baby sleep books are super long!)
Overall, Happiest Baby on The Block is one of the most popular baby sleep training books and is full of time-tested advice that works.
2. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
Dr. Weissbluth is a pediatrician who has been treating patients since the 1970s. Through his research he developed his own system for helping babies get to sleep, and you can thank him for the term, “sleep training.”
(I know “sleep training” can have a negative connotation, but it’s not about leaving babies to cry and cry. It’s about setting your baby up for routine, healthy, sound sleep!)
The biggest takeaway from Dr. Weissbluth’s book is the notion that “sleep begets sleep”. By anticipating your child’s tired times, you can prevent the struggle to fall asleep by not waiting until they are overtired.
Parents will find a schedule to follow that will guide their babies into a sleep habit that will teach them how to sleep on their own. For example:
- At 0-4 weeks, the baby takes many naps with brief awake periods and sleeps in your room.
- At 6 weeks parents can possibly move the baby out and establish a bedtime between 6 and 8 pm.
- At months 3-4, parents try to establish a mid morning nap; watch tired cues to avoid getting the baby overtired; get to 12 hours of nighttime sleep.
- At months 4-12, the baby should fall into a morning & afternoon nap routine; possibly a 3rd short nap as well that will go away as the baby is able to stay up longer.
- By ages 1-3 baby drops morning nap… the process of dropping a nap leads to a tired child so it’s time to try an earlier bedtime!
- And by ages 3-4, the child stops sleeping in the afternoon and again an early bedtime is helpful.
The book is quite rambly, but this method of sleep training is very popular and is a good option for parents who can be tuned into their baby’s sleep habits. We used a lot of principles similar to the ones in this book for sleep training our babies.
3. On Becoming Babywise by Robert Bucknam, M.D. and Gary Esso
While Dr. Bucknam’s book falls on to many lists of baby sleep training books, it’s really more about scheduling your baby’s day, being consistent with your schedule, and introducing the concept of “infant management,” or “parent directed feeding.”
Rather than let the baby decide when to eat, play, and sleep, the parents introduce and guide their little one to follow a schedule. The result is security and trust that allows the baby to easily transition from one activity to the next, with no fussing over sleep because they know that’s next on their schedule!
There is a heavy emphasis on breastfeeding in this book, but the principles can be applied for bottle-feeding as well. We used some ideas from Baby Wise, and actually found it even easier to implement once our babies switched to formula around 6-8 months.
One of the key takeaways that helped me from this book was about training your baby to have full feedings, rather than several “snacks” throughout the day, as a full tummy leads to sleepiness.
Some parents might find scheduling your baby a bit stressful, while others welcome the peace-of-mind once they feel everyone is on a schedule that they can count on.
We ended up opting for a flexible, relaxed routine based on many combined principles from these first 3 books. I included all the essential details in my infant sleep guide (and left out the fluff).
4. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
Another book that is much more than just a baby sleep training book, Bringing Up Bébé explores the author’s time in France and how she learned to parent well-behaved children by mimicking French parents. She’s not a doctor or parenting “expert,” but honestly, sometimes, the mom sleep lady advice is the best advice.
With her 3 years of research, the author collected the top differences between French and American parents. The book reads more like a novel than a “how to” book, which may make it more enjoyable to read. The sleep training tips in the book are a distant cousin to the “cry it out” method, described as more of “a pause”.
The French parents don’t ignore their babies when they cry, but they listen closely to determine if they need to assist them. Babies that are unable to “self soothe” are unusual in France.
This was a hugely important principle for our babies, and implementing the “pause” principle with our babies led to 4 babies that could easily self-soothe. (I explain it more in depth in my guide!)
5. Zero to Five by Tracy Cutchlow
Rather than writing an in-depth book full of information for new parents, Cutchlow knows that parents are busy, and breaks down her tips into little chunks. Just one tip per page!
Written by a mom with 15 years of journalist experience, Cutchlow gathered the best tips for all stages of the first five years of a child’s life. So not only will you find sleep training tips (she says to start with the “45 minute rule”), but she also gives parents information on discipline, food, and more. All her tips are based on scientific research.
6. Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, M. D.
This is one of the most popular books on baby sleep training, and the origin of the phrase, “Ferberizing”, which is the original “cry it out” method. It’s a long book written by a doctor, and is probably one of the most recommended books for sleep training.
The Ferber method incorporates strictly timed intervals where parents leave their baby in their crib and do not respond to any crying during this time. The thought is the child will eventually realize no one is coming, and they will calm down and self-soothe to sleep.
Most experts agree this style of sleep training is not appropriate for babies younger than 6 months old. But many pediatricians still recommend it for 6+ month old babies who are having a hard time learning to sleep on their own.
We personally used more of a combination of the first 3 books listed to teach our babies to go to sleep happily & self-soothe well before 6 months old. Our kids napped 1-2 hours at a time throughout the day and went to sleep with minimal fussing, so we didn’t have to do a lengthy, dramatic cry-it-out sleep training week between 6 and 12 months.
BUT – if you have an older baby who isn’t sleeping well, I do know many families who swear by this method. It might be a hard few days, but they’ve all said it’s totally worth it and it created babies who happily went to sleep after they were done with the sleep training method.
7. Diaper Dude by Chris Pegula
A book for the dads, written by a dad and the creator of Diaper Dude, a line of baby accessories made especially for men. The book is an easy read and filled with humorous anecdotes from the author.
It’s a fun easy read, but the tips and information presented in the book come from the author’s own experiences and are not based on science or research. Diaper Dude is more of a general manual for a new dad, but they will pick up lots of tips from Pegula, including some help in getting your baby to sleep.
8. The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger & Jill Spivack
Waldburger and Spivack are psychotherapists and sleep specialists, and the two women have become the sleep experts to the stars. Their sleep method claims to get babies to sleep easier in as little as three days! (I generally take promises like this with a grain of salt. Don’t discount it though – it can still be effective, even if it takes longer than 3 days.)
The Sleepeasy Solution is to find the perfect balance between a parent (and child’s) heart and head. Using current research and the authors’ experience in psychotherapy, they give parents tools to get their child to sleep while focusing on the baby’s emotional state, so that parents do not have to worry that their child feels unloved or uncared for. They call it the “least cry approach”.
9. No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
A bestseller written by a leading expert on child sleep. This is the anti-“cry it out” method. The No Cry Sleep Solution gives parents the tools they need to pinpoint the issues that prevent their baby from falling asleep. Once discovered, they can then solve them so that everyone can rest easily.
Pantley is a mother of four and no stranger to the difficulties of getting a baby to sleep well. She developed a system that works without having to let your baby cry excessively. She then tested the system with hundreds of families to ensure it would work for all different types of babies and lifestyles.
This is a pretty good manual for sleep help, but just remember… all babies cry. And it’s okay.
(That life altering advice came from my first pediatrician, who was 65+, had delivered over 1000+ babies and had 13 kids of his own. And now I’m passing it on to you. You’re welcome.) 😉
10. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg
Imagine being able to know exactly what your baby is telling you! This book will give you the tools to figure out what each coo, whimper and cry means, so you will know exactly what your baby needs.
Hogg shares her easy to follow acronyms that will help parents create systems, which will ultimately lead to great sleep habits for your baby. Her ultimate goal is to have parents treat their baby the way they themselves would want to be treated. Once you learn to recognize your baby’s cues, you’ll create a schedule that will make everyone happy.
This book has some great principles, but it can leave you feeling frustrated if you don’t in fact know what each whimper and cry mean. Again, if you read it, pull the principles that are helpful and leave the rest without letting yourself feel mom-guilt over what doesn’t work for you.
11. The Wonder Weeks by Frans Plooij PhD, and Hetty Van De Rijt PhD
The authors are a husband-and-wife team with experience as a behavioral scientist and studying infant development, mostly through observing chimpanzees. They discovered that all babies go through milestones or “mental leaps” at specific times in their development.
By learning when these leaps occur (they claim that they happen at the same time for all babies), parents can anticipate the cranky weeks from the happy weeks. The “sunny weeks” last for a week, and the “stormy weeks” can last from one to four weeks. Then a Wonder Week hits and the baby achieves that developmental milestone.
To help parents through these times, the book explains how each “week” will look and feel, so that parents can be ready and adapt to what is happening with their baby. The authors also created an app for your phone to help track each leap your baby is experiencing.
Again, this book has some good principles, but I think it stresses some parents out to be thinking – is week 6 a “wonder week,” is my baby 7 weeks old but acting like he’s 5 weeks? Etc… If you read it, pull what works for you and leave the rest. (I feel like a broken record saying that… again.)
12. The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon MFT and Julie Wright MFT
The authors of The Happy Sleeper believe that babies don’t need to be trained to sleep. They are in fact, built to sleep, and it is parents’ overprotectiveness that prevents their babies from getting the sleep they need. Through the use of charts and building routines, they give parents a path to peaceful nights, with less stress that might result from a “cry it out” method.
Turgeon and Wright, both sleep experts, train parents on how to gently guide their babies to fall asleep independently and sleep through the night. The authors focus on creating a healthy sleep environment for your baby. Their advice and guidance is separated into different stages, as a baby’s sleep requirements will change as they get older.
13. Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi A. Mindell, PhD
Dr. Mindell uses her experience in sleep problems with children to provide parents with tips and guidance in her book. Unlike other baby sleep training books, Sleeping Through the Night focuses on bedtime rather than middle of the night issues. The book is easy to read without a lot of technical jargon, and is organized well.
You’ll find this book to be a “no judgement zone”, with Dr. Mindell being open to parents using a variety of methods to help their babies sleep. She does feel that sleep is important and her book is designed to help with common sleep issues by providing ways you can promote good sleep habits early in your child’s life.
14. The Informed Parent by Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham, PhD
Steeped in science, The Informed Parent is the reaction to “internet experts” that throw lots of different theories out at parents, seeing which ones will stick. This book is written for parents who want researched-based facts, not well-meaning advice.
All the information provided in the book is backed by studies found by the authors, both of whom are science writers and parents. They give clear, concise information on everything from getting pregnant to your pregnancy weeks and all through toddlerhood. It includes sleep training advice too.
The Informed Parent is a good choice for new parents and seasoned parents alike.
Just remember… women have been having babies and raising them for gajillions of years. You can raise a happy kid without a book based on science telling you what you need to know. Trust your instincts. Your baby was given to you to raise. You can do it!
15. Goodnight Baby: A Short & Simple Guide for How to Get Your Baby on a Healthy Eating & Sleeping Routine… ASAP! by me 🙂
Like I mentioned earlier, I ended up writing my own short guide about what worked for us! Since publishing it a few years ago, thousands of parents have used the principles in it to get their newborns off to a good start.
I’m a firm believer in beginning as you mean to go on, so I geared this book towards parents of babies ages 0-4 months. It is intended to set you and your baby up for success so that your baby can be (mostly) sleeping through most of the night by 16 weeks.
My guide teaches you basic sleep principles so that you can figure out what will work for your family’s rhythms and routines.
There are tons and tons of practical tips in here for everything related to those first several months of having a newborn, including:
- how to feed a super sleepy baby
- how to get a fussy baby to sleep
- Nap time vs. nighttime sleep
- helping your newborn get their days and nights on the right track
- how to know when your baby is ready to sleep
- the ideal infant day and night feeding/ sleeping schedule
- healthy pre-sleep routines
- what to do when a baby wakes up early from a nap
- how to get a baby back to sleep in the middle of the night
- how to know if your baby is getting full
It’s only available as an ebook/ pdf form. You can read some reviews and access it instantly here!