Sweet Sleep: Nighttime & Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family

Every now and then I read a parenting book that makes me think: “I must give someone a copy.” La Leche League International’s Sweet Sleep: Nighttime & Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family had me at the introduction. I mentally listed every mother I knew who consciously seeks to parent gently, rooting her decisions in instinct and evidence.

Written by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and La Leche League Leaders Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, Linda J. Smith and Teresa Pitman, this book is likely to stand out from any other baby sleep book you’ve come across. The authors easily offer research in one hand and common sense in the other. Full references are available throughout and studies evaluated. But it is not at all an academic text book. Sweet Sleep somehow manages to be thorough without being heavy.

In true LLL style, mothers’ stories feature throughout. The aim is never to preach or prescribe any one way of doing things. Information and experiences are simply shared and I believe that this book will greatly encourage and help many families adjusting to life with a breastfed baby.

Although the book offers various sleep solutions, it is unashamedly pro-bedsharing. It starts off with “emergency bedsharing” tips for parents desperate for sleep. It details how to make your bed safe for your baby and what criteria needs to be met to minimise risks. These are summarised as “The Safe Sleep Seven”:

“If you are:

1. A non-smoker
2. Sober and unimpaired
3. A breastfeeding mother

and your baby is:
4. Healthy and full-term
5. On his back
6. Lightly dressed

and you both are:
7. On a safe surface

Then your baby in bed with you is at no greater risk for SIDS than if he’s nearby in a cot.”

Sweet Sleep goes on to discuss what’s normal for baby sleep, how babies are wired and how we are wired as mothers. It also gives ideas for the role partners or nighttime helpers can play. The “Alternate Routes” chapter is particularly interesting, looking at how supplementing at night (with breastmilk or formula, bottles or at-breast supplementer) works, nighttime options for premature babies, multiples, babies with special needs and adopted babies.

“It’s your right and privilege to hold your baby as much as you want, and it only does good things for you. Spoiling? Can’t happen at this age, neurologically, biologically, or emotionally. So go ahead and enjoy your baby.”

When my copy of Sweet Sleep arrived in the post, I skipped straight to the chapter on naps. Sleep at night is pretty simple for us. She sleeps in our bed and even though she usually wakes up at least a couple of times a night now, it’s usually a simple affair of flopping out a breast and drifting back to sleep.

Naps, on the other hand… We never really decided what we were going to do about them. We just knew that we spent way too much time stressing over them with Talitha and were unwilling to do that again with Ophelia. Many months in, I stopped fretting and stayed with Talitha for naps. So this time we skipped the fretting and Ophelia just ended up in a sling or in arms.

Not only does Sweet Sleep present babywearing as an option for naps but it explains its benefits, why we naturally fell into this pattern and why it feels so good.

There will come a day when I don’t want to do this for every nap or won’t find it practical. I know that. I do get touched out. I have another child. The book offers ideas, too, for being “separate but not solitary” which I’ll probably give a go in time, including a few that worked with my older daughter.

“Nights can be hard for new parents. But it makes much more sense for us to adapt a short span of our own lives to responding to our babies’ needs than to force our babies to adapt to our needs during such a vitally important and once-in-a-liftetime part of their development.”

Naturally, the book discusses concerns about sleep training with honesty and compassion. It gets into what’s involved and its potential effects on infant development, family relationships and breastfeeding outcomes.

That’s not to say that this a book without a range of solutions. Things do change as babies get older and Sweet Sleep discusses night weaning among other nighttime parenting ideas. There are also some very sensible sections on looking after yourself and maximising your own sleep.

I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s going on in this book because there is a wealth of information for a multitude of situations, whether you’re out working or at home with your baby. It was necessary for such a book to be written. We’re fortunate that it’s been published now.


Pinter & Martin Publishers sent me a copy of Sweet Sleep: Nighttime & Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family for the purposes. I honestly love it, cover to cover.


  1. September 9, 2014 / 9:27 am

    I’d like to win it for me – we are struggling to balance my desire to breastfeed to natural term with Littlest being cared for on a daily basis by others and his inability to nap without nursing

  2. kim neville
    September 9, 2014 / 7:27 pm

    Would like to win for my sister who is pregnant

  3. Mo Ade
    September 9, 2014 / 10:32 pm

    I definitely want to win it for me. LLL has been an important part of my difficult breastfeeding journey, and as my journey has gotten better, we’ve had more challenges in relation to sleep. So, this book will be a fab help.

  4. Lisa
    September 9, 2014 / 10:51 pm

    I’d like to win it for me! Sleep is a constNt talking point in this house…

  5. September 9, 2014 / 11:03 pm

    This looks like a really interesting book – might be really useful for a friend who is struggling with her baby not sleeping. Ours thankfully went through a successful sleep training and snoozes upto 11h a night now.
    Sanna recently posted..Mummy, I have a gift for you! – Living Arrows

  6. September 10, 2014 / 5:13 pm

    this book sounds brilliant, something I would have loved to have read when we were in the midst of our sleep hell with Wilf. I love that it has a section about night weaning and maximising your own sleep and looking after yourself. I felt with Wilf that any time I thought of my own issues I was betraying him, until it got to the point I was loosing my mind and then we decided to night wean (at around a year) thankfully Tom was able to take the week off work and just sleep with him that week and after that we were able to grab chunks of sleep in 3 or 4 hours which was bliss! x
    Fritha recently posted..Memory Box

  7. Jessica Powell
    September 10, 2014 / 11:36 pm

    For me, with a new baby on the way. 🙂

  8. September 10, 2014 / 11:38 pm

    Ah, the elusive sleep! I am so lucky in that I’m one of those people whose head hits the pillow and I’m asleep, but I found it excruciating when my two were babies. I don’t function well without my zzzzs.
    Lottie :: Oyster & Pearl recently posted..New uniform

  9. lucy dady
    September 11, 2014 / 9:41 am

    I’d love to win this for my cousin whos just had her first baby.xxx

  10. Nancy
    September 11, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    I would love to win this book for myself. I’ve tried and tested the sleep options health visitors gave me, but they just don’t work for me/us and our little man. We struggled with breastfeeding at the start, but we’re doing fantastic now. It would be lovely to find a sleep solution that works for us. More so for naptime than nighttime because nighttime he sleeps with us. This book sounds like it’ll do just that 🙂

  11. September 16, 2014 / 8:31 am

    I have been breastfeeding for 14 months now, it’s been a struggle all the way. Thomas still wakes every 1 or 2 hours in the night and won’t nap without me for more than 20 mins….any help I can get would be amazing! I’m totally drained! I love LLL and I’m sure this book may be able to help me 🙂
    susan @happyhealthymumma recently posted..Apple Cider Vinegar – A List of Benefits

  12. September 18, 2014 / 3:19 pm

    My Daughter who is expecting her first baby in January

  13. Sarahann Tonner
    September 20, 2014 / 2:13 pm

    My best friend x

  14. Heather Simpson
    September 21, 2014 / 9:45 pm

    My workmate who is expecting her first baby

  15. fern
    September 22, 2014 / 8:42 am

    id love to win it for me, im hoping to have my 3rd soon & have breastfed both other babies so definitely want to do it again.

    even now at 15 months my youngest doesn’t sleep through…

  16. Zoe
    September 22, 2014 / 10:19 am

    I so need this book right now. My son’s coming up on a year and is moving towards a hideous routine of waking up every 90 minutes for nursing, culminating in a 2 hour feeding marathon every morning between 4 and 6am. We cosleep but this amount of nursing is really killing me. With his older brother we did the elizabeth pantley thing of putting him down sleepy in his cot and returning immediately if he cried – but with two boys sharing the same room I’m not sure what to do!!

  17. katie w
    September 22, 2014 / 8:17 pm

    my sister who is expecting her first child

  18. Jennifer Rhymer
    September 22, 2014 / 10:09 pm

    I’d love to win for myself please

  19. Helen Garner
    September 22, 2014 / 11:15 pm

    Would like to win for myself

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