baby to sleep
Why gentle techniques work best
By Anni Gethin & Beth Macgregor
Nearly two decades ago, my oldest friend Anni Gethin and I found ourselves worrying about the kinds of advice being given to parents about sleep; specifically to ‘teach’ their babies to sleep by leaving them to cry. We were concerned that this advice was at odds with decades of research underscoring the developmental importance of sensitive responsiveness to children’s cries.
We began to research and write articles and speak about the issue at conferences around Australia. Before we knew it, we were offered the chance to write a book with Finch Publishing. In 2007 Helping Your Baby to Sleep: Why Gentle Techniques Work Best was published in Australia, and then in America in 2010, and Russia in 2011. The third edition came out in 2015.
We’re so proud of the endorsements we’ve received from both international infant mental health specialists and parents about what a lifeline these learnings and tools are in the first year with baby.
“Helping Baby Sleep” has two essential ingredients: practical advice about infant sleep garnered from neurobiological, social-emotional, and attachment literatures, and a compassionate, sensitive attitude towards both infants and parents. Translating diverse scientific findings into applicable tools, Gethin and Macgregor encourage positive and gentle practices that enhance the quality of infant sleep and strengthen the parent-infant relationship. A must-read that sheds light on one of the most common parenting issues of infancy and early childhood.”
Hiram E. Fitzgerald, PhD, former executive director of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (1992 – 2008) and co-editor of the WAIMH Handbook of Infant Mental Health
A Magnificent Gift
“Gethin and Macgregor have boldly and successfully waded into the complex issues of infant sleep, creating a guide that gives hope and support to parents. Grounded in common sense and respect for the infant, the lessons in this book are both comforting and empowering, showing parents how they can gently guide the emotional experiences of their babies. How remarkable that a book could have these features and still represent cutting-edge research. A magnificent gift to mothers and fathers – superb.”
Michael Trout, MA, director of the Infant-Parent Institute
This is a beautiful Book
“This is a beautiful book, rich with empathy for babies and parents, and also practical and down-to-earth. Infants are not our enemies. They are not feral creatures to be tamed, domesticated, and programmed to become adults who are obedient and placatory. When we respect their individuality and respond to what they are trying to tell us, we help them develop social skills, grow in self-confidence, and give and receive love.”
Sheila Kitzinger, author of Understanding Your Crying Baby
“What makes Helping Baby Sleep beautiful is that it does not focus on manipulating infant behaviour, but on the more important issue of creating a secure and sensitive relationship between parent and child. The authors present helping your baby learn to sleep as part of a larger philosophy and approach to parenting – one that is grounded in responsive emotional support. Gethin and Macgregor explain how parents can provide their babies with feelings of safety and comfort, which helps them (and the rest of the family) fall asleep.”
Bert Powell, Glen Cooper, and Kent Hoffman, co-founders of the Circle of Security®: Early Intervention Program for Parents and Children
Gethin and Macgregor’s work is an outstanding example of translating very recent advances in the developmental sciences into sensitive, empathic models of child rearing. Their carefully researched and clearly explained approach to the important matter of infant sleep behaviours is based on a deep understanding of current research, which demonstrates that attachment interactions directly impact the development of the infant brain. I highly recommend this important book.
Allan N. Schore, PhD, author of Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self and Affect Regulation and the Repair of the Self
A Gift for Every Babyshower
In Helping Baby Sleep, Gethin and Macgregor address all the major issues we parents fret about: Is co-sleeping okay? Can I put my baby in a crib and not scar her for life? Why doesn’t she sleep through the night? How can I get her to stop crying? Am I doing anything wrong? Will my baby survive my parenting? Using a warm, conversational style, they soothe away our worries with practical, gentle, and easy-to-follow advice. This book should be given to mothers and fathers at every baby shower.
Meredith F. Small, PhD, author of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
I can’t imagine any parent reading this informed, wise, and powerfully argued book, and ever wanting to use controlled crying again.
Steve Biddulph, author of The Secret of Happy Children and Raising Boys
Wonderful and Warm
Much advice about infant sleep is both unrealistic and harshly neglectful of babies’ needs. [Helping Baby Sleep] is very different: Anni and Beth have a wonderful, warm way of combining scientific evidence against harsh practices such as controlled crying, with the wisdom gleaned from their own mothering experiences. They unapologetically advocate for the baby’s well-being while also acknowledging parents’ very real needs for support. If [Helping Baby Sleep] was mandatory reading for anyone caring for babies…[children] would be free to reach their potential for emotional and intellectual well-being.
Pinky McKay, author of Sleeping Like a Baby
An Important Book for Parents
This is an important book for parents because it puts babies’ sleep in the context of research about infant development. There are many books that give suggestions about how to ‘train babies to sleep’ but none that I know of that give parents the information to make their decisions about sleep, taking into account their babies’ developmental needs.
Pam Linke, author and national president of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health
An Antidote to the Current Vogue
At last – an antidote to the current vogue for leaving babies to cry! Many parents have felt intuitively that this cannot be the way to deal with infants, but too often they are encouraged to ignore their feelings and to ignore baby’s distress signals as well.
Carolyn Quadrio, MBBS, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of New South Wales
Helping Your Baby to Sleep’ offers tired parents fresh ideas about how to deeply connect with their infant or toddler to support the transition from wakefulness to sleep. The book is filled with beautifully translated, science-based concepts that are made accessible to parents of all backgrounds. The authors have done a masterful job of elucidating the importance of relationships in shaping the brain. Enjoy and sleep well!
Daniel J. Siegel, MD, author of Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation and co-author of Parenting from the Inside Out
With the help of educators, traumatized children can flourish in their school communities and master the educational tasks of childhood, despite their overwhelmingly stressful experiences. This requires school environments that support staff, parents, and children, and that recognize and respond to the effects childhood trauma can have on children’s learning and behaviour.
I regularly hear from the educators and leaders who work in Northside’s Early Childhood Centres how highly they regard the support from Beth Macgregor. The work of the early education is sector is so complex and specific that it can be extremely challenging to find professionals from outside the sector that either value or understand the work of those teams.
We engaged with Macgregor Consulting when we opened our education and care centres in the ACT in 2019 provide supervision to some of our leadership team. These supervision sessions not only help our employees feel supported and heard, but empowered and equipped to tackle the challenges that we may face daily. This has been transformational, and we noticed the positive impact immediately.
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