An Interview With Dr.William Sears, M.D.
Pediatrician Dr. William Sears' "gentle-to-sleep" approach to solving children's bedtime problems has helped millions of families. He is the author of Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep and other books on parenting.
Here, in an exclusive interview with Parent Soup, Dr. Sears shares new insights and advice on how to cope with your child's sleep problems. He also addresses some specific questions posed by members of the Parent Soup community!
Is it unrealistic for parents to expect their children to sleep through the night?
Yes. It is an unrealistic expectation that babies should be sleeping through the night when they are two or three months old.
How would you define a good night's sleep? Five hours? Eight hours? Twelve?
Medically speaking, many doctors define sleeping through the night as a five-hour stretch for babies. Biologically, babies are unable to go through the night for 10 hours straight. For safety's sake, a baby is wired to wake up easily. This is a survival mechanism. It is built in. If a baby experiences anything that threatens its well-being -- hunger, lack of warmth, breathing difficulties -- the baby will wake up easily. To train a baby to sleep too deeply, too soon -- while it might be convenient -- is risky. And I think it goes against what we know about the basic biology of babies.
Are there developmental milestones that can cause sleep problems in children?
Parents need to be prepared for night wakings that are strictly linked to normal development during the first three years of their child's life.