BENGALURU: Sleep, Baby, Sleep: A Bedtime Routine from 8 to 8, is an intensively researched piece by Kerry Bajaj, an American sleep consultant and a holistic baby sleep practitioner. The book sparks a new conversation about the possibilities of raising a great sleeper.
What was the idea behind the book?
I believe that every baby can sleep well, but for that to happen the parent should understand how important sleep is for the baby’s mood and growth, the sleep schedules through the first years, and how to help baby sleep. There are so many times that I see an exhausted mom asking for sleep advice and she gets a chorus of responses to “be patient, it’s just a phase, they’ll grow out of it.” That bothers me, because I know how important sleep is for babies, and can appreciate how tough sleep deprivation is for parents. Through the book I teach parents how to be proactive about shaping your baby’s sleep, instead of being endlessly patient.
Your book revolves around sleep pattern among babies. How important is to have a routine sleep pattern for them?
Babies can’t read the clock, but they love rhythm and routine. From early on, you can have daily routines for taking a walk outside, giving massage, giving a bath, and getting ready for bed.
What are the common myths revolving around a baby’s sleep pattern?
The biggest one is that you should keep the baby up later so that they’ll sleep better. This backfires every time. Most babies I work with are overtired. As an example, a 6-month-old baby can only handle being awake for 2.5 hours at any given point in the day (in between their morning wake-up time, naps and bedtime). If they are kept up for a much longer stretch, it will cause stress on their body. A closely related myth is that if your toddler is not sleeping well at night, you should drop their nap completely. Don’t do that! I’d only recommend dropping the nap after the age of two-and-a-half years.
The book presents a fresh perspective to parenting. Can you elaborate?
I find that among my clients, sleep is often ‘baby-led’ rather than ‘parent-led’. This can bring families to a point where they are up all night and nobody is getting the rest they need to thrive. I remind parents that while we can take the baby’s preferences into account, we can make informed choices and help shape the baby’s schedule. Sleep is important because growth hormone is released in the night, so interrupted sleep leads to interrupted growth. I also advocate that while relatives and friends may offer well-meaning advice, there are ultimately 3 people who should get a vote about the baby’s care: mom, dad and the paediatrician.
Did you always want to be an author?
Yes. I’ve always been fascinated by the power of books to spread new ideas.
Which are the authors you have always looked up to?
I’m in awe of how Marie Kondo has invigorated the category of decluttering with her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I love her fresh perspective on sparking joy and how she has brought about changes in not just how people think about their ‘stuff’ but also how they fold it and interact with it. She has been my role model for this book, because I don’t want people to just read the book, but also to think about sleep in an uplifting way and take positive action.
What was the process of research behind the book?
I’m a certified baby and child sleep consultant, so I’ve read extensively about sleep and child development. Once I got the first draft in place, I kept doing more research and conducting interviews with Indian parents, paediatricians, and baby nurses to make the book more helpful.
What can readers expect from the book?
You will understand why sleep is important, how to set a perfect sleep environment, how to set an age-appropriate sleep schedule, why baby sleep gets challenging after the first few months, and how to help your toddler/ older child sleep well. You will also see many case studies and success stories of sleep transformations, and you’ll be prepared for how to stay on your toes with your child’s ever-evolving sleep needs.