Scouring the web at 2am for a better baby sleep solution? You are

in the right place, mama. Whether your baby requires constant rocking to fall

asleep or still insists on those midnight feedings (mostly to play peek-a-boo), we

understand the exhaustion. We understand the guilt. Fortunately, we recently

had a tête-à-tête with Janet Kennedy, the author of the new (and lifesaving)

book, The Good Sleeper. After sharing a

few of her amazing insights on scoring more rest for baby (and you), it is clear to us why she has been featured on Dr. Oz and CBS This Morning and has been quoted in Elle, Parents Magazine, NY Press, Redbook, Real Simple and the Encyclopedia Britannica website. We would

call her philosophy eye-opening, but eye-closing may be more accurate. Sleep tight!

We love the fact that

you take an honest and research-based approach to addressing more “aggressive"

sleep methods, such as cry-it-out. What can you say to our mothers who are

looking for the courage to try such a method when it is necessary, at the risk

of feeling guilty or ashamed?

I always remind

parents that, by letting their child cry to learn how to sleep, they are doing

something for their baby and not to her.

There is no shame in taking good care of your child. And there is no shame in

taking good care of yourself so that you can be a good parent to your child.

Overly tired babies are unhappy and overly tired parents are unhappier still.

Being a good parent means

making some difficult choices for your child, ones that sometimes don't feel

great. But by teaching your baby to sleep, you will be giving her a tremendous

lifelong gift. You might be

able to soothe your baby to sleep now, but those days are limited. Eventually,

your baby will be stimulated by your soothing and will fight sleep to be with you.

There comes a time—around 3 or 4 months—when they need to

learn to put themselves to sleep because you will be less and less able to do

it for them.

Babies do not inherently know how to sleep. They have to learn.

I also remind parents

that it is perfectly fine and, in fact, expected that they will be upset during

this process. It is very, very hard to listen to your baby cry and inhibit your

impulse to “help." But it is crucial that you separate your own feelings from

your job as a parent. Remember that you are actually helping your baby by not

rushing in to stop her from crying. She needs your help to learn how to get the

sleep that she needs.

Have you ever been in a situation with your own

child when you have found it difficult to follow your own advice offered

in The Good Sleeper? How did you overcome it?

When my daughter was

about 18-months old, she contracted Coxsackie virus. She had a mouth full of

awful sores and was very confused and uncomfortable. She was also hungry

because it was difficult to eat and she couldn't use her pacifier because of

the sores. The first night, she was up for hours. I carried her around, took

her outside, and did anything I could to soothe her. But she didn't sleep. The

second night, the same thing happened—nothing would soothe her. This time,

though, my husband—who has generally left the sleep realm to me—looked at me

and said: “You can't do this again. She needs to sleep." He took her out of my

arms and put her in the crib. She cried for about 30 minutes and then she slept

all night. Those 30 minutes of crying at first seemed cruel because she was

sick and truly uncomfortable. But she was able to get hours more sleep that

night because we let her do it.

That was a powerful

lesson for me. I was so stuck in the misery of the situation that I couldn't

step back and apply what I know to be true about sleep. Fortunately, my husband

was there to set me straight.

Can you offer our readers a few insights in

regard to co-sleeping and bed sharing? Do you believe these sleep solutions can

be effective in providing high-quality sleep for parents and children over a

long-term period of months or years?

Frankly, I just don't

recommend bed sharing. I don't find that it results in more or better sleep for

the child or the parents. And it can create a lot of problems. I truly believe

that babies can and should learn to fall asleep in the crib, alone. I'm sure

that there are plenty of happy bed sharers out there, but they don't come to me

for help. I see the very unhappy bed sharers who are exhausted, can't get the

baby or child out of their bed, and whose marriages are under tremendous

stress. The best and easiest time to teach babies to sleep alone is when they

are young. We also can't ignore the increase in risk of SIDS that occurs with

bed sharing in children under one year.

In your mind, what is the most important thing

parents can do to start good sleeping habits early in a child's life, so more

drastic methods are less likely to be needed later in infancy or toddlerhood?

When parents learn how

to follow drowsiness cues and avoid “overfatigue," they have a great shot at

easing into good sleep patterns naturally. When babies are well-rested, they

can learn how to self-soothe more easily and they don't always have to cry for

long stretches to do it. However, some babies just don't get it on their own,

even when their parents do everything “right."

It's no comment on your efforts if your baby needs to cry to learn how to sleep. If your baby doesn't ease into independent sleep, I believe it's just his way of telling you that he needs you to let him work it out.

It is also important

to learn to listen to the baby fuss—and even cry—before intervening. When a

parent rushes in at the first peep, the child never has the opportunity to

self-soothe. If the parent waits a few minutes to see whether the baby is truly

awake, the baby learns to self-soothe more gradually. Parents often interpret

every noise from the baby as a call to action, a signal that something needs

fixing. But parents who can tolerate a little more noise from the baby before

intervening often find that the baby begins self-soothing more reliably without

having to cry for long periods.