Book Review: The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan

The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan is based on an interesting idea: there is a correct time in a baby’s growth to begin sleep training just as there is a proper time to begin potty training for a toddler.

The cover of the Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan book, featuring a photo of two baby feet in a white blanket.
Author Dr. Cathryn Tobin—a pediatrician and trained midwife— asserts that parents inadvertently teach bad sleep habits from the start, habits which later have to be broken. For example, if you rock your baby to sleep in your arms, you may inadvertently train the baby to depend on it. I’ve seen that problem mentioned endlessly on parenting forums.

The book’s marketese back cover touts a "secret that enables very young babies to sleep through the night."  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the author has no big secret. There isn’t a single magical thing you do to have a perfect baby. The book conveys an approach, a perspective… a, what’s that word in the title? Oh yeah, a sleep plan which details many right and wrong actions to take when putting your baby to sleep.

My wife and I both had the same reaction when reading the book: "This makes sense." The book’s suggestions mirror our own experience figuring out our daughter’s sleep pattern, except we gained this wisdom through painful trial and error.

Proponents of using a family bed, or "co-sleeping," should skip this book. These "sleep martyrs" are dispatched in the second chapter. The opposite approach, the cry-it-out Ferberization method, doesn’t fare much better. A middle-of-the-road strategy, which calls for slowly correcting bad sleep habits over time, is discounted because it can take a long time to break habits. The Lull-A-Baby plan is, of course, cited as the best option because it’s preventative, trying to establish good habits from the start. The author’s advice is worth knowing, though, even if you’re already in the thick of it with a baby that is trouble to put to bed or that wakes up too much at night. 

My pet peeve with the book is its penchant for using acronyms, chief among them being WOO—the Window of Opportunity when your baby can learn a new sleep pattern. I don’t know if WOO is genuine or a bunch of hooey, but the advice contained in this book is the same advice I would give any parent who is anguishing over a fussy baby, pulling out their hair trying to figure out what they are doing wrong.

At 191 pages, the book is the standard thickness of other baby books, but I found the information well organized with its use of headings, subheadings, indents and italicization. Let’s be honest. Parents often skim and skip around in a book, sometimes skipping whole sections when there is information they think they already know, and try going back later to passages they’ve already read. This book is organized for how real people use books. I found it a fast and interesting read. And, despite my previous heartfelt comments to the contrary, my wife and I are considering have a second child next year, so Lull-A-Baby was especially valuable.

A chapter-by-chapter outline is included below.

Chapter 1: The dangers of sleep deprivation

  • The stages of sleep
  • Is my baby getting enough sleep?
  • The dangers of sleep deprivation
  • Top 10 baby sleep myths

Chapter 2: The top three sleep theories and how they make matters worse

  • Behind the cry-it-out plan
  • The family bed and beyond
  • The middle of the road approach
  • So which option is best?

Chapter 3: The innocent mistakes devoted moms and dads make

  • Parents’ 10 most common sleep mistakes

Chapter 4: How to survive—and thrive—before the WOO opens [Window of Opportunity]

  • The parent power nap
  • Keep life simple
  • It takes two, babe: getting him involved
  • Raise baby’s comfort level
  • Expect the 6-week peak
  • The TLC technique
  • Watch out for sleep knots [bad sleep routines established early on]

Chapter 5: Preparing for the Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan

  • Know your baby’s temperament
  • Learn the Lull-a-Baby Golden Rule

Chapter 6: Step one: watch out for the WOO [Window of Opportunity]

  • Take advantage of the WOO
  • The Window of Opportunity timeline
  • Beyond excuses
  • Common questions about the WOO

Chapter 7: Step two: create "feel good" bedtimes

  • W: White noise
  • O: Oral ease
  • W: Wrap
  • Other ways to push your baby’s sleep button
  • More feel-good tips

Chapter 8: Step three: charm your baby into sleepy contentment

  • Stop, look and listen when baby cries
  • Common questions about charming a baby to sleep

Chapter 9: When things go wrong

  • Overcoming glitches
  • Defining "sleeping through the night"
  • Major mistakes made with the Lull-a-Baby Sleep Plan

Chapter 10: Bridging the nap gap

  • The window of opportunity to establish healthy naps
  • The seven most common nap traps
  • Why babies resist naps
  • Naptime is not bedtime

Chapter 11: Opportunity knocks twice

  • Frustration: the crucial ingredient for transforming your night owl’s sleep habits
  • Pushing an older baby’s sleep button
  • The sticky wicket: undoing bad habits
  • The last straw: when nothing seems to work
  • Common glitches with older babies
  • Fade away

Extra: Answers to all you’re A to Z-Z-Z questions (34 page alphabetical list discussion of related topics, apnea to yawning).

[This book was submitted to Thingamababy for review.]

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