La Leche League’s 2014 book, Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family, is a book for families of infants which focuses on attachment-oriented research evidence and strategies for understanding and addressing sleep challenges. The intent of the book is to provide breastfeeding-friendly infant sleep knowledge, support, and problem-solving and, as I describe below, the authors have succeeded in meeting this aim.
Writing in a calm, articulate manner, Weissinger, West, and Pitman are appealing to educated and informed parents who are at least somewhat familiar and open to attachment-based parenting approaches to sleep. Likely the La Leche League publication naturally draws the attention of those already inclined to providing nurturing measures, in general. Although not an academic paper, the level of education required is rather high. The book’s strengths lie in its use of evidence and research balanced with clear descriptions and case studies that highlight the key points.
It is quite a lengthy book that takes several hours to read, something that may be a challenge for all but the most motivated sleep-deprived parents. Despite this, the depth and quality of the information and evidence provided make this my new primary recommendation to clients who are keen to read about infant sleep. Unlike other books on infant sleep, this books looks specifically through the lens of breastfeeding. However, it is still appropriate for non-breastfeeding families if shared in a sensitive way to those not currently struggling with breastfeeding or with previous decisions/necessity of weaning. There is enough valuable information to firmly entrench this as an infant sleep book for professionals to consistently draw from when providing eager parents with detailed information or references scientific evidence.
Reading this book now, as a weaned mother of three children who now sleep well, I was so excited about the evidence they include that supports attachment-based sleep support for families. In particular, their section on bedsharing (detailing La Leche League’s Safe Sleep Seven principles) is both evidence-based and instinct-focused: you, as a parent, must weigh the information available to you in the context of your own infant, yourself, and your family.
The references and citations are the real strength of this book. Subtitles and indexing make it fairly easy to navigate the kindle version. The richness of the content makes it likely that families would benefit from a print version, rather than kindle version, in order to mark particular sections and to use the index more freely. I suspect most families who are so inclined will have print versions decorated liberally with sticky notes.