Good Night, Sleep Tight has the dubious distinction of being the first baby sleep book I ever read. You may be noticing a pattern here, but I found this for $1 at the Good Will (I was there a lot when I was first pregnant, and none of my clothes fit), and when I looked it up online, it seemed like a lot of people liked it. I was young, I was innocent, I knew nothing about baby sleep . . . into the cart it went.
Now that I’m old and jaded and substantially more knowledgeable about babies all over, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I’m pretty sure that some of my son’s sleep problems were actually created when I tried to follow West’s advice too closely, but there’s also a lot of good information here.
Pros: West’s delineation of the amounts of sleep that are normal for different age groups and the types of routines/schedules that work for different age groups are some of the clearest I’ve found, and the most accurate to what my son was doing from 0-9ish months-old. We didn’t try her “Sleep Lady Shuffle,” but it didn’t seem like a terrible idea and I think it would work well for some families.
Cons: West says she breastfed her own children, but it seems like she’s not well-educated about breastfeeding and what’s normal for breast-fed babies (a recurring trouble spot for many sleep books, I’m noticing). This is bad, because a lot of babies won’t be able to be night-weaned nearly as early as she seems to think they should be, and she sometimes suggests formula feeding over breastfeeding for sleep purposes, which is just baloney. If a mother’s willing to breastfeed, she should be supported in that, not told that she’s ruining her baby’s sleep. And we have good evidence that formula-fed babies *don’t* tend to sleep any better than breastfed babies, so encouraging formula here is especially wrongheaded.
Another huge problem for my family, and one of the reasons I end up not recommending this book that often, is that West does not address sleep regressions (common at 4 months, 8 or 9 months, and sometimes 11 months) as a normal part of development. She certainly doesn’t devote any time in the book as to how to get through them. As I’ve mentioned, sleep regressions are really challenging times for everyone, and West ignores the existence of that challenge, potentially making parents feel like they’re doing something wrong when their kid is just going through a normal, difficult stage. She does address some sleep issues like teething and regression in the last chapter, but it needed to be front-and-center in the age-appropriate chapters to be meaningful.
I have such mixed feelings about this book, but I think overall, it doesn’t really fit with my parenting philosophy. Nothing West says is evidence-based, and some of the advice seems actively harmful. For those reasons, I don’t recommend it.