Infant Sleep Methods

Gentle Sleep Method of Attachment Parenting By Dr. Sears

In the April, 2010 Be the Best Nanny Newsletter we discuss the most popular infant sleep methods.

The most popular infant sleep methods range from gentle approaches which include attachment parenting when a baby sleeps with the parents to firmer approaches where parents let infants “cry it out” learning to settle themselves to fall asleep.

We will briefly discuss the most popular methods to hear what nannies and au pairs have to say about the topic.

The Baby Book

By Dr. Sears

The parenting philosophy of attachment parenting is the foundation for the advice given in The Baby Book. The gentle approach of attachment parenting is that a healthy attachment is necessary during infancy and toddler years.

The sleep lesson taught in the The Baby Book is, “Babies need to be parented to sleep, not just put to sleep.” Infants enter sleep through a very light initial stage that lasts up to 20 minutes. If parents try to rush a child to sleep during this early stage, he will usually wake up. The method encourages parents to closely watch their infants and observe their sleep stages (when an infant’s limbs are limp when lifted, he has entered deep sleep).

The book recommends first incorporating a relaxing practice into the bedtime ritual such as, infant massage or a warm bath. After the baby shows signs of getting sleepy, the method then suggests nursing, snuggling in a parent’s arms, rocking, or climbing into bed with the baby to help parent him to sleep.

Please see yesterday’s post with warnings about sleeping with babies to prevent SIDS since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly discourages co-sleeping to reduce SIDS.

“It is not your job to make your child nighttime independent,” the authors say, “but rather to create a secure nighttime environment and feelings of rightness to allow your child’s independence to develop naturally… When the time comes, your baby will wean from your bed just like all the other weanings.”

Have you worked for parent that follow the attachment parenting style? Do you like this style of helping infants to fall asleep?


  1. I find this method great except for the sleeping with baby part. As mentioned sleeping with babies is dangerous. Also, I heard a news report a few weeks ago that babies have died in slings while carried by parents. Otherwise the method is natural and comforting. Can't spoil a baby!!

  2. I have worked w/ 3 infants. Each time we try "cry it out" method and end up more like this method. Nothing wrong with rocking and feeding a baby to sleep. I agree you can't spoil a newborn!

  3. I actually think a lot of what quality nannies do is like attachment parenting. I think it gets sticky when you're talking about a family that takes the ideas to the extreme. So I think this is like everything else. If the nanny has a core belief that is in opposition to Attachment Parenting, she would be unsuccessful in that job. But if she isn’t opposed to the basic ideas, I think she can successfully incorporate it into her caregiving style when needed.Encourage the parents to read information about SIDS and to use bed nests to protect the infant.Issue re: intimacy of the parents isn't our concern, I am sure they tip toe out of the room when they want to be intimate.

  4. I've used the AP philosophy with my previous family and it was wonderful! The children didn't co-sleep with their parents unless they were sick or had nightmares, but we did teach them to "listen to their bodies". (In other words, eat when they were hungry and sleep when they were tired.) We also comforted them when they were crying rather than to leave them to CIO. I also carried my younger charge in a sling until she was almost two. (For the record, it's the bag-style slings that are considered dangerous, not all slings. As long as the baby is upright and can breathe properly, slings are wonderful!) Overall, the children were very intelligent, happy, well-behaved and confident with other children and adults because their basic needs were met. I highly recommend the AP philosophy to anyone!

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