The Gift of Sleep: An interview with co-author Rebecca Sparrow

iVillage sat down with Rebecca Sparrow, co-author of The Gift of Sleep, to chat about her latest book and how parents and babies alike can get their sleep back using Elizabeth Sloane’s baby sleep program.

What attracted you to writing The Gift of Sleep e-book?

I’d heard my friend Mia (Freedman) talk for years about this ‘sleep whisperer’ who saved her family when her kids were small. Essentially Mia’s daughter Coco was waking up to eight times a night to have her dummy replugged and Mia heard about this woman (Elizabeth Sloane) who taught babies to self-settle. Since that time Mia has wanted to write a book that explains Elizabeth’s program so that families everywhere can achieve the gift of sleep .. not just those who can afford to have Elizabeth do a home visit. Before I agreed to write the book with Elizabeth, I spent hours and hours talking to her on the phone. And I did my own research into sleep training for babies over six months. When I realised the program was gentle, that it worked and that this type of sleep program is given the tick of approval by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute — I was in.

Did you have troubles with sleep with your children? If so what did you and your husband initially do to try to get sleep?

Did we ever!! Ava (who is now three years old) had terrible reflux for the first 13 weeks of her life — so she didn’t sleep night or day unless we were wearing her in a sling to keep her upright (which is good for reflux babies). But of course, once the reflux disappeared we had a little baby who wouldn’t sleep in her bed and wanted to be with us. I eventually got her to sleep in a little rocker but then she needed to be rocked for an hour to go to sleep. It was exhausting and I felt like everyone else had a baby who was sleeping well. I absolutely could have used The Gift of Sleep three years ago. You know what else I learnt in those early days with Ava? Babies have supersonic hearing! How is it they can hear you trying to sneak out of the room when you’re barefoot and walking on carpet?!

How do you respond to any criticism people have of sleeping training programs for babies?

Elizabeth is the first person to say that The Gift of Sleep program isn’t for everyone. She’s a big believer that if what you’re currently doing is working for you — KEEP GOING! You know your baby best and should do what is right for you. BUT, if you are finding that sleep deprivation is affecting you, if you’re at breaking point and it’s impacting your mental wellbeing, your relationship, your ability to parent AND it’s affecting your child — then the Gift of Sleep program is definitely worth considering.

On the positive side, this book is helping others, what is one of the stand out stories you have received?

You know what the best thing is? I wake up every morning to emails from mothers all over Australia who are thanking us. Some of them are incredibly emotional. There’s Bev who has 10 month old twin girls who was getting up to them up to 20 times a night. After three nights, the girls were self-settling and sleeping through the night. And there’s Sam who says she was struggling with Post Natal Depression (not helped by sleep deprivation) and that as soon as she started our Gift of Sleep program her daughter Paige had immediate success. That’s the reason we all decided to write this book.

Why should women buy this book?

The Gift of Sleep gently teaches your baby to self-settle so that they go down to bed happily and when they wake up during the night, they can drift back to sleep easily. Best of all, it works. Babies need their sleep. And so do their mums and dads.

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