The 5 Best Sleep Training Books
Sleep training is a controversial topic in the parenting world, with a variety of methods to choose from that take vastly different approaches. The best sleep training books are a valuable resource when it comes to achieving your goals for your child’s sleep, but the right book for your family will depend on the methods you feel comfortable with.
If you are looking to get educated about sleep training, there are plenty of books available on the topic. Sleep training methods generally fall into one of the following two categories (though there are plenty of variations and some books use aspects of each):
- The cry-it-out method — also called CIO or extinction training — involves teaching your baby to fall asleep without your help or interference. The idea is that your baby will learn to self soothe and eventually sleep through the night. The well-known Ferber method falls under this category.
- No-tears techniques involve little to no crying for your baby with a more gradual sleep training approach. There are a number of different methods within this category, including the well-known chair method.
Some books also focus on techniques that you can use prior to sleep training (since it is generally agreed upon that most infants aren’t ready for sleep training until four to six months of age) to help set up your little one for sleeping success.
If you’re unsure of the type of sleep training method you’d like to use, this list contains a variety of books that explain different techniques. Many of these books tackle other topics related to sleep, too. With thousands of glowing reviews on Amazon, reviewers indicated that these five books have been game changers when it comes to promoting healthy sleep habits for their babies.
Just be sure to consult with your pediatrician when deciding which method is the best fit — especially if your baby has any health conditions.
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1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child By Marc Weissbluth
Topic of focus: The cry-it-out method
Available formats: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audiobook, MP3 CD
With nearly 3,000 reviews on Amazon and a solid 4.3-star rating overall, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child combines research with practical tips to help get your child to sleep. Written by well-known pediatrician Dr. Marc Weissbluth, the book provides step-by-step guides to solving kids’ sleep problems. Dr. Weissbluth recommends cry-it-out as the fastest method for sleep training. The book also addresses many other sleep-related topics, including how to handle nap-resistant kids, obstacles for working moms, bedwetting, nightmares, sleep needs for different temperaments, and how to get kids to fall asleep on their own. The book talks you through sleep issues from infancy to adolescence, so you'll be referencing it time and time again as your child grows.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Changed my life. Seriously. Read it with my second child, learned so much. Very knowledgeable. My baby followed his advice to a tee! Chapters are written by age so as my son grew I would read the next chapter and follow his advice. He answers questions about different scenarios that babies might go through. it not only helps with my baby to have really good sleeping habits from the beginning but I also learned a lot about my toddler who I realized (after reading this) was going to bed too late (even at 7:30) and his lack of sleep was contributing to some behavior problems. I started putting him to bed much earlier: 5:30, then 6, now 6:30 and he's so well-behaved and way less Moody than he used to be. It's made a huge difference!"
2. Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems By Richard Ferber
Topic of focus: The Ferber method version of cry-it-out
Available formats: Paperback, Kindle, MP3 CD
In Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, Dr. Richard Ferber explains how you can use his version of cry-it-out — often referred to as the Ferber method — to teach babies to self-soothe and sleep on their own. The Ferber method involves checking in on your child at gradually increasing intervals.
The book covers a wide range of other sleep topics, too, including bedtime difficulties and nighttime wakings, strategies for naps, sleep schedule abnormalities, co-sleeping, sleep terrors and sleepwalking, problems in setting limits, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, bed-wetting, and head banging.
With more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon and a super impressive 4.6-star rating overall, it’s clear that those who have read this book think highly of it.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I can’t recommend this book enough. As a first time mom, I cringed at the phrase “cry it out” and vowed NEVER to do that to my baby. As I have now learned, there are SO many variations of “CIO” and this is actually one of the most respectful and gentle ways to help your baby learn to sleep independently. [...] I needed help because even though my 8 month old son knew how to put himself to sleep independently, he was waking in the middle of the night and wouldn’t go back to sleep unless he was nursed. It got to the point where I was up every hour when he was 8 months old. That was when I was desperate for answers. After ONE week of implementing this plan, my son was sleeping 11-12 hours straight without me going in."
3. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night By Elizabeth Pantley
Topic of focus: The no-tears sleep training method
Available formats: Paperback, Kindle, audiobook, MP3 CD
If you don’t want to use the cry-it-out method of sleep training, Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Sleep Solution outlines a research-backed method to help your baby get a good night’s rest — without tears. The method focuses on helping you determine and work with your baby’s biological sleep rhythms in order to create a customized plan. The book offers very clear step-by-step ideas that you can easily implement. And if you are also struggling with naps, the book provides strategies for those, too. While the no cry approach is a gradual one, reviewers on Amazon reported that they have had a lot of success using the method.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I first read this book when my oldest (now 6 years old) was an infant, and re-visited it when my youngest (now 3 years old) was born. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book was a lifesaver for us! We were desperate for more sleep for ourselves and our children, but did not want to take the "cry it out" approach because it just went against every instinct we had as parents. This book gave us so many different gentle strategies to try and with both children we were able to find a combination of things that really helped everyone to get our much-needed rest. [...] I can't recommend it highly enough!!"
4. The Happiest Baby on the Block By Harvey Karp
Topic of focus: Calming newborn babies and helping them sleep
Available formats: Hardcover, paperback, mass market paperback
With more than 1 million copies sold in total and an impressive 4.5-star rating on Amazon, The Happiest Baby on the Block is a favorite among parents with newborns. Authored by Dr. Harvey Karp, the book focuses on his techniques for soothing newborn babies and increasing their sleep. Dr. Karp explains concepts like the fourth trimester (where infants need a womb-like atmosphere to feel soothed), and the 5 S’s — swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking — to calm a fussy baby.
On a personal note, I first read this book when I was pregnant with my daughter and honestly loved the practical advice it contained. My husband and I used Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s method and had great success with it.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "What I like about this book is it's the only one I've found that specifically addresses the first three months of a baby's life--and does it so well! This book is a must for all first-time parents (and maybe even veterans). It goes through how to calm a crying baby, whether s/he is colicky or just a little fussy. [...] You can tell that Dr. Karp has done a lot of research and his theories make a lot of sense. I've used his swaddling technique on my baby with wonderful results. [...] His prose is really fun and easy to read, making reading the book very enjoyable. I love the stories given from other parents and their experiences. Those are fun as well. Overall, this book is highly recommended."
5. Precious Little Sleep By Alexis Dubief
Topic of focus: Seven different sleep training methods
Available formats: Paperback, Kindle, audiobook
Precious Little Sleep by Alexis Dubief is a highly informative book; it discusses seven different sleep training methods, so you can determine the one that works best for you and your family. The book covers a range of sleep topics, too, like navigating the newborn phase, getting your child to sleep through the night, and solving toddler and preschooler sleep struggles. With a solid 4.7-star rating on Amazon, reviewers on the site reported that the book is not just loaded with helpful information but is also an extremely humorous, enjoyable read overall.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This book is the reason I sleep again. My little one was waking up every 45 minutes and life was miserable. After reading this book, I had a game-plan for getting my baby to fall asleep alone (and again with each waking). This book was immeasurably helpful, clear, concise, and hilarious. I was laughing out loud at certain points with the witty, humorous language she uses. The best part is that there are several options all allowing the parent to decide what the best choice is for their family and their baby. All the other books I had looked at act like there is only ONE good way to handle sleep and raising a child. She has the humility to acknowledge that the best method is the one that works for YOU. I will forever be grateful for this book!!"