The 3rd book in my sleep book review series is the 12 Hours’ Sleep by 12 Weeks Old written by Suzy Giordano. This book has become quite a bible for many parents and it is definitely very popular here in New York. In general, the book is about exactly what the name suggests – getting your baby to sleep 12 hours by 12 weeks Old. Although she does preface it by saying that twins and multiples will likely have to start later given their prematurity and small size at birth. Suzy Giordano confidently advises that she has never had a baby fail her plan ever. Such confidence and the dream of sleeping through the night by 3 months old may very well be why many parents flock to this book. The problem for me is that not all babies are biologically ready to sleep without waking for a feed at that age.
Suzy combines sleep training with increasing the amount a baby feeds during the day with decreasing the amount they eat overnight. She advises that she defines sleeping through the night as a baby who sleeps 12 hours without waking for feedings or any intervention to help return to sleep (e.g. rocking, patting and other re-settling techniques). The amount a baby eats is definitely an important step in having them sleep overnight, however, given my expertise is in sleep, I will be concentrating on the sleep side of this book.
Suzy Giordano provides useful information about the importance of not setting up bad habits and even advises parents to be careful of this from the get-go. She advocates parents providing their babies with the opportunity to learn to self soothe and explains that sleep is a learned skill. This is incredibly important information to impart to parents. If we teach our babies from early on to self soothe by putting them down drowsy but awake we will be much more likely to have babies that can soothe themselves to sleep at night and at brief awakenings.
Suzy Giordano also advises parents that babies often go through an unsettled period, where they cry a lot, are fussy and can be difficult to soothe. This is called the Period of Purple Crying. While Suzy Giordano doesn’t give it a name, this is what she is essentially describing. It is great for parents to be aware of this so that they aren’t surprised, know that it is a period that will eventually pass and can gather up support to help them during this time.
For the sleep training component of Suzy Giordano’s method, she uses what she calls the “Limited Crying Solution”. She advises that babies will often cry during the sleep training process but she attempts to find a happy medium between no crying (which is often unachievable) and what she considers too much. The Limited Crying Solution involves 3- 5-minute intervals between checks of the baby, with the need to restart the timer, should the baby stop crying during that 3 – 5 minute interval. Suzy Giordano stresses not picking up the baby when doing the checks and to leave the room when the baby is calm. This method is definitely doable during the sleep training process, however, it is useful to pay attention to your baby to see if the checks are serving a useful purpose to them. I suggest though that you don’t consider starting sleep training until your baby is over 16 weeks adjusted.
The Not So Good
Suzy Giordano does not provide any information on Safe Sleep and the AAPs’ recommendations regarding safety e.g. putting your baby on their back to sleep. She even recommends that babies do not room share with their parents as a parent’s bedroom should be their safe haven and it can set up bad habits that can take a long time to break. This goes against the AAP’s recommendations of room sharing for at least the first 6 months.
Suzy Giordano advises that babies should be sleeping 1 hour in the morning for their nap and 2 hours in the afternoon. She is essentially suggesting that a baby should be sleeping like this from at least 12 weeks old. Like I mentioned during the Gina Ford review, this is not enough sleep, especially for a 12 week old and could lead to overtiredness. A 3-month-old baby is still starting to consolidate their nap routine and should be having at least 3, if not still 4, naps a day. 2 long naps (one in the morning, the other at midday and a third catnap in the late afternoon). She also suggests a long wake time between the second nap and bedtime which could also lead to an overtired baby who experiences a second wind and will then find it hard to fall asleep. She does not consider a baby’s sleep waves but instead uses awake times. When a baby hits 16 weeks, and their circadian rhythm is developing, sleep waves are incredibly important.
She is very clear that a baby should fit in with their family and not the other way around. While I see some benefits to this with regard to not making the house completely silent during sleep times and things like that, she is also saying that a baby should fit their sleep routine in with their family’s. She says if the family’s routine is to do bedtime at 11 pm and wake time at 11 am, then that is fine. This does not take into account a baby’s body clock. Sleeping at the wrong times can lead to less restorative sleep and overtiredness. We want to sync our babies sleep schedule with their natural circadian rhythms, once they have developed, so that they get the best, most restorative sleep possible.
One thing that I think this book would really benefit from having, is more information on the science of sleep and to teach parents to respect their baby’s circadian rhythms (see above). She doesn’t describe how a baby’s sleep changes from the newborn stage into developing a circadian rhythm or anything about nap transitions. She doesn’t mention that at 12 weeks babies are only just starting to develop a nap routine (which still won’t necessarily be consistent) and that around 16 weeks their naps start to lengthen. Her main concentration is really around making sure a baby feeds a certain amount during the day so that they are less likely to feed overnight. This method is also more likely to work for a formula-fed baby than a breastfed baby – where you really can’t determine the amount they feed or assist them in feeding more.
I hope you found my thoughts on 12 Hours’ Sleep By 12 Weeks Old useful and that you can make informed decisions on the information within the book that you use. If you would like assistance with 1:1 help to get your little one to sleep through the night please do not hesitate to contact Mylee at Little Big Dreamers today.