Books and research from a natural, respectful and gentle parenting perspective. These lists hold content on all things from pregnancy through to parenting, discipline and sleep arrangements. While books and research will not provide lived experience, they enable educated, informed and knowledgeable decision making. Browse the resources below and should you find anything you feel is lacking, let me know!
Sleep behaviour is intimately linked with breathing patterns, changes in sleep architecture, body temperature and maternal physiology and behaviour, and bed sharing babies experience fewer obstructive apneas (McKenna, 2014; Richard, Mosko and McKenna, 1998). Furthermore, breastfeeding provides a protective effect against SIDS, and cosleeping improves rates of breastfeeding, so we need to find a way forward towards ‘breastsleeping’ not being demonised and support being provided for families who choose this sleep arrangement (Marinelli et al., 2019; Volpe, Ball and McKenna, 2013). In order to establish and maintain breastfeeding, and increase breastmilk supply, infants do tend to wake frequently in the night (Kent et al., 2006) which has the added benefits of protection against SIDS (McKenna and McDade, 2005; Gettler and McKenna, 2011) and easy resettling due to breastmilk containing substances that assist sleep for mum and baby (Sanchez et al., 2009). Infants and mothers awaken at similar times, creating inter-connected, mutually dependent, synchronous wakings (Mosko, Richard and McKenna, 1997). McKenna and Joyce provide a beautiful summary of why babies do not and should not have to sleep alone (McKenna and Joyce, 2008) whether that involves cosleeping (sharing a bed room) or bed sharing (sharing a sleep surface).
Many parents feel that in order to obtain more sleep, they must ‘sleep train’ their babies. Sleep training does not improve outcomes for mothers or babies in the first 6 months of life (Douglas and Hill, 2013). Sleep training results in elevated levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol, even long term after sleep training has occurred (Middlemiss et al., 2012). Alignment between children’s circadian physiology and parent-initiated bed times improve settling and reduce nighttime sleep difficulties in early childhood (LeBourgeois et al., 2013). For gentle techniques for settling babies during the day and night, I highly recommend the “No Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley. Dr. James McKenna is also a wonderful resource and provides some great links too.