La Leche League – Sweet Sleep

Date: August 23, 2014

We asked three members of our GentleParenting Review Panel to read and review La Leche League International’s latest book ‘Sweet Sleep’, here are their thoughts:

sweet sleep book reviewLaura, Mother to two and a half year old breastfed daughter.

‘Sweet Sleep’, the new book from La Leche League, has a very tempting title! Which parent doesn’t want to find ways to improve their child’s and as a consequence, their own sleep?

I read this book with great anticipation as we have struggled greatly with our daughters sleep, or lack thereof, for the past 2.5 years and had been given many suggestions which we felt distinctly uneasy with: sleep training which purported to be ‘harmless’ but our instincts as parents and our understanding as humans told us was not harmless at all. We needed some gentle alternatives that suited our parenting style.

What I love about this book is that it comes at things from a different angle to the majority of books on sleep. Gentle ways to help encourage your child to sleep, and particularly for breastfeeding families. Since we find ourselves (somewhat to our surprise) still breastfeeding, this was definitely a bonus – someone writing who understands the balance and relationships going on.  The chapters on self care for the parents were particularly useful for me. Talking about things like  stress, feelings of depression, dealing with excessive sleep deprivation, developing coping strategies and getting people around you who can support you in your tiredness and in your family choices. All so important and yet so easy to forget.

It also covers co-sleeping and bed sharing which is the norm for mothers and babies in the majority of the world, but somehow has become the source of great controversy in the West. It explains how to co-sleep safely, how to breastfeed lying down, how to deal with comments and fears of family and friends and puts you in control of your own choices for your family sleep. I love how it looks at the realities of having a baby – how things don’t always go to plan and how to deal with bumps along the road, in terms of breastfeeding and sleeping. As always with LLL, there’s an excellent index at the back and really useful FAQs.

I highly recommend this book as an alternative to the multitude of sleep books out there. This one actually gives you tools and tips but puts you in charge!




Lucy, Currently six months pregnant with her first child.

As an expectant first time Mum, nearly all things parenting are a new venture to me. I had, however, already heard of La Leche League and their wonderful work in supporting breastfeeding mums which made “Sweet Sleep” seem all the more trustworthy. Sweet sleep? Surely this is somewhat paradoxical with a new born baby? Not according to LLL.

I’d never really considered bed sharing with our new arrival – ‘what about the risk of SIDS!’ I hear you cry – and as a result I was honestly a little unprepared for the number of references made to bed sharing. What I will say is that this book’s research-based approach really drives home how safe bed sharing and co-sleeping can be *if it is done so properly*. Full of
practical ideas for sleeping with your little ones from birth right through to childhood, “Sweet Sleep” has already helped me to understand the benefits, and risks, in relation to the practice. I even found myself quoting the Safe Sleep Seven at my recent antenatal classes!

Whilst this book’s tone may seem a little biased to bed sharing practices, the writers are clearly passionate about helping new and existing parents and families to establish sleeping arrangements that are right for them and their babies.

While not all areas of this book were of help to me *right now*, I will definitely be referring back to this book after baby arrives and throughout his development. I found the section on sleep personalities particularly interesting, as well as the chapter on ‘Defusing Criticism’ (although what new mum wouldn’t!)

I would thoroughly recommend this book to both expecting and experienced parents who are thinking of or curious about bed sharing and co-sleeping.




Stephanie, mum to a five month old baby.

​​This book encourages you to be comfortable following your natural instincts: to keep baby close, to sooth with your breast, to sleep next to your baby.

It gives you reasons why you should, other than your natural desire, and shows you that its safe. It provides research behind the benefits of these natural desires and reasons why the new modern way of parenting a baby could be detrimental to you through tiredness and stress. It provides help on typical what if’s and how-to’s for implementing change; or nudging, as you move along from baby to toddlerhood.

As a mother of two, I found I followed my instincts only with my second child, who is now 5 months.  We have an amazing bond, she is such an easy baby – though when I tell people that she will only nap on me I get raised eyebrows but I wear
her, I keep her close, I get to do my thing and she sleeps securely. She barely cries. At night she wakes to eat frequently, but I’m not tired.

I only wish I had had this book 2.5 years ago, when I was trying to be modern.  I have read a lot in those two years which brought me to feel confident to be natural this time.  I will encourage any pregnant woman to read it, it has everything you need to know.  “Hunger isn’t always the problem but breastfeeding is usually the solution.”   Highly recommended.