Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Happiest Baby on the Block: Sleep

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Chapter 16 in The Happiest Baby on the Block is all about sleep. Karp talks about sleep transitions. He says sleep transitions happen every 60 minutes (page 219). I have always read it is every 40-45 minutes; whatever it is for your baby, Karp points out that a poor self-calmer will usually wake up at this transition (see this post for more on transitions: Baby Whisperer: Sleep Transitions). Here are some things Karp recommends to help baby sleep better (these are his 5 S's):

  • Swaddle
  • White noise
  • Swing

Karp points out to only have baby sleep on back and that a pacifier can help baby fall asleep, but not stay asleep (page 217). Karp recommends you only use these S's until three months of age, then it is time to wean baby and put him to bed awake.

Karp recommends you first wean the sucking (page 218). Second is swinging. Third is swaddling. Finally, the Shh... (white noise).

Karp continues this chapter with information on scheduling and co-sleeping. I figure that information is not of interest to most readers here, so if it is of interest to you, you can read the book :).

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Danielle said...

Are some of Karp's ideals contrary to what Baby Wise says? I thought Baby Wise said not to use devices to help them fall to sleep such as a swing as it might influence sleep habits. Can you please clear this up for me?


ndw said...

Hi Valerie,
I have a question about nap length. My son is 19 months are we're starting to transition to 1 nap/day. I was wondering what should i expect his nap length to be at this point. It seems like it's usually about 2:15 to 2:30 hours. I think a couple of times he's slept for 3. thanks for your help. ndw

ndw said...

Hi Valerie,
It's me again... just wanted clarify what I meant by 2:15, 2:30... my son is sleeping about 2 hours, 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. The thing that i'm worried about is that he's still getting sleepy in the morning...not fussy just sleepy. am i rushing him? he does seem a little fussy in the evenings which makes me think he needs more sleep. he had been doing 2 naps...each nap was 1 hour and 30 minutes pretty consistently. thanks for your help. ndw

Heather said...

That seems unnecessary. I know all babies are different. But, if--from day one--you work at getting your baby to sleep without a swaddle, with no white noise, and in a crib (not in a swing), then you won't have to break bad habits later in the baby's life. We followed the Babywise book's suggestions when our daughter was born and we never had to worry about teaching her to sleep all over again when she was 3 months old. On the contrary, she was sleeping through the night without being swaddled, or with white noise, or in a swing--even without a pacifier--when she was 9 weeks old. And, she took 4-5 naps well throughout the day.

Plowmanators said...


Yes, they are definitely not compatible to BW for the most part. If you see other posts on this book, you will see my thoughts on it. I also have the conclusion tomorrow, which gives more details on my overall take on the book.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that BW is not absolutely against swings, pacifiers, etc. at all times no matter what. That is legalistic and BW is not a legalistic program.

I look at this book as being a resource for babies with colic. Many BW parents have stated that Karp's ideas helped for their baby with colic. This would be a situation of taking action based on context--see

Adjusting for Context:

Plowmanators said...


Those nap lengths sound normal. You might need to move bedtime up for a while, or for good. When we moved Brayden to one nap, we moved bedtime up by at least 30 might have been 60. This lasted for well over a year.

Another option is taking dropping the nap as a weaning process:

Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process:

Plowmanators said...

Heather, I agree with you for the most part. If you have read other posts on this book, you will see that I am reviewing the book but not really recommending it.

There are things, however, that aren't in conflict with Babywise. Swaddling is not in conflict with Babywise at all. My son was never swaddled, my daughter was. I stopped swaddling her at 3 months without a problem--she slept better than ever. She has always been a better sleeper overall than my son was, so the swaddle wasn't detrimental to her learning to sleep on her own. Even pacifiers are not in conflict with Babywise (and I am not a paci fan). The site (run by the Ezzos) has a post on pacifiers and how to use them appropriately. I agree it is best to not use props, but some things are not really props especially when you consider the context and keep in mind why vs. how.

ndw said...

Thank you so much Valerie. here's what we've been doing the last fews days... 30 minute cat nap in the morning then a 2hr 15min - 2hr 40 min nap in the afternoon. he's seems happier...not fussy in the evening... will try moving up his bedtime too although this one's harder for me because i miss him while i'm at work :)

Kristin said...

Hi Valerie, in this post Karp suggests to be rid of white noise by 3 months. In a different post (a guest writer) on the 45 minute intruder she suggested to use it potentially if you need something to drown out other noises. I use it occasionally and those tend to be my 6 month old's best naps. What do you recommend?

Kristin said...

Subscribing to follow-up comments. Sorry, forgot to before.

Plowmanators said...

ndw, you are welcome! I am glad you are seeing improvement!

Plowmanators said...


I think if you can get away with not using white noise, that is preferable. I just like being able to take my child and put him/her down anywhere without having to pack anything special with me. I don't want to have my child not be able to nap at another home because we forgot our white noise machine.

However, my number one priority is that my child sleep well. So with McKenna, I have a humidifier in her room. It blocks out the noises of the other two children really well. She does take one nap a day in my room without any white noise without a problem.

Brayden and Kaitlyn also have humidifiers during the winter just because we live in a dry climate and it helps with their skin.

So keep in mind your ultimate goals and work around those.


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