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The Happy Parents’ Guide To the Family Bed (And a Peaceful Night’s Sleep)

by Dr. Jay Gordan and Maria Goodavage
Griffin Trade Paperback, 2002
Available from LLLI
No. 1249-7, $13.95 (Leader Price: $11.86)
Reviewed by Kelly Warner
Kennesaw GA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 39 No. 4, August-September 2003, p. 88.

Good Nights is a great introduction to the family bed. It includes guidelines for safe co-sleeping, scientific and medical reasons why co-sleeping is so good for baby, tips for enjoying a great sex life even during the family bed years, and a section on "trouble shooting" that includes a great explanation of the adverse effects of "crying it out" on babies. The authors also cover transitioning a child to his or her own bed and include a great section on dealing with criticism from others. The book is very supportive of breastfeeding and approaches breastfeeding as the "normal" way to feed babies and toddlers.

Good Nights also contains some chapters that are missing from the existing "family bed" literature. The guidelines given for safe co-sleeping are especially relevant following the recent co-sleeping statement issued by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission that raised many fears concerning the safety of the family bed. Not only are the suggestions in Good Nights thorough and helpful, they can also be a resource for parents dealing with criticism of the choice to co-sleep.

The chapter concerning medical and scientific reasons why co-sleeping is good for babies and families is very comforting to read and presents intelligent, scientifically based arguments that are difficult to ignore or challenge. This chapter, along with the chapter on "Dealing with Criticism," will equip the new co-sleeping family to intelligently and logically defend their choice.

The chapter on maintaining the parental sex life while happily having a family bed is wonderful. Other books about the family bed generally gloss over or skip this concern. In Good Nights, however, the authors give many great suggestions on keeping a happy sex life and also share the stories of many other co-sleeping families who have managed this issue.

The authors’ explanation of why "cry it out" is so bad for babies is also a real winner. Never before have I seen such intelligent arguments so well laid out. This book will reinforce any family’s decision not to allow a baby to cry himself to sleep. It will also help those who have made that choice and aren’t happy with it find something better for their family.

Some have raised a concern over the chapter on helping an older baby/child sleep through the night. This book does include Dr. Gordon’s "10 nights" plan to get a child over 12 months of age to sleep through the night. However, the authors make it very clear that it is preferable to just leave the child to his or her own timetable and relax about the whole thing. They state clearly that they are only offering Dr. Gordon’s plan as an alternative for families considering more abrupt and less sensitive methods.

This book is perfect for any family considering co-sleeping. It would also be wonderful for any family that is rethinking a decision about solitary sleep and/or considering weaning a child from a family bed. Families that are currently co-sleeping will find this an invaluable resource for coping with any difficulties that arise and with defending choices if need be. Good Nights is a valuable addition to the current co-sleeping literature.

Kelly Warner lives in Kennesaw, Georgia, USA with her husband, Pete, and their three children: Samantha, Gabriel, and Isabella. She has been a Leader for three years and has been co-sleeping for five. Jake Aryeh Marcus is a writer, editor, lawyer, and unschooling mother to three boys. She is the Contributing Editor for Leaven book reviews and has been a Leader since 1997.

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