Ep. 31: Dr. Jodi Mindell — How to Help Your Baby Sleep through the Night

Most new parents will wish at some point that their baby were sleeping more soundly. Thankfully there are proven techniques for helping young children to sleep through the night. My guest this week is psychologist and pediatric sleep specialist Dr. Jodi Mindell, who has done a tremendous amount of work to bring sound sleep guidance to parents who need it.

I’ve loved Jodi’s approach since I first discovered it as a new parent more than 10 years ago. If you’ve struggled to find hope and answers for your child’s sleep, or you’re going to start sleep training soon—or you’re just curious about the state of the science in this area—this episode is for you.

We covered many issues related to babies’ sleep, including the nuts and bolts of how and when to implement sleep training. We also covered:

  • The abundance of “parenting experts” and non-science-based opinions about kids’ sleep
  • Supporting parents as experts on their child and their families (vs. parent shaming)
  • Empowering parents to trust their gut and decide for themselves how they want to raise their child
  • What parents should expect for their newborn’s sleep
  • The value of morning light exposure for babies’ sleep
  • The prevalence of sleep problems among young children
  • The effects of kids’ sleep problems on parents, couples, and families
  • Parents’ guilt about doing sleep training
  • Sleep training benefits for a child
  • How often kids wake up in the middle of the night
  • Why daytime napping and earlier bedtimes lead to better sleep for kids younger than 3 years old
  • The importance of morning wakeup time for determining the rest of a child’s sleep schedule
  • Why breastfed babies wake up more during the night
  • The keys to developing good sleep habits
  • The importance of being able to fall asleep independently
  • The many benefits of a good bedtime routine (see this study)
  • What to do when a baby wakes up and can’t seem to fall back asleep
  • How long a child will take to fall asleep during sleep training
  • The downsides of letting a baby cry it out without checking on them
  • Effects of sleep training on child development and attachment (see this study that Jodi referenced; also this one)
  • When sleep training is not recommended
  • The profound effect of better sleep for kids and families

Jodi mentioned a fantastic website called BabySleep.com that she and her colleagues developed. It has tons of resources on how to help babies sleep better, with videos and blog posts by a range of pediatric sleep experts. And it’s all free!

As a parent, my favorite sleep training book was Jodi’s Sleeping Through the Night. (A percentage of sales through this affiliate link will be used to support the podcast, at no additional cost to you.) As we discuss in this episode, it has a very warm and supportive tone for parents. It also offers options to adapt sleep training to many parenting styles and preferences, rather than trying to force a one-size-fits-all approach or trying to scare parents into following a narrow and rigid ideology.

Jodi Mindell, PhD, is Associate Director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where she treats children of all ages. She is also a professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and of pediatrics (psychology) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Jodi is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading pediatric sleep researchers. She has written extensively on pediatric sleep disorders with over 150 publications and over 300 presentations at national and international conferences.  She is the author of Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep, and co-authored A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems as well as Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens (these are also affiliate links). Most of her research focuses on the assessment and treatment of common sleep problems in young children, as well as sleep problems related to pregnancy and parenting.

Jodi is frequently quoted in national and international media including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Parents, and Huffington Post. She has made over 300 television and radio appearances, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and NBC Nightly News. Jodi serves on the Board of Advisers of Parents magazine and the Advisory Board of Johnson’s Baby, and is a member of the Medical Advisory Board for BabyCenter.com.

Jodi is founder and chair of the Pediatric Sleep Council, an international organization  dedicated to sleep education of young children that has developed BabySleep.com, and is founder and co-chair of the biannual international Pediatric Sleep Medicine conference.  She is an affiliate member of the Asia Pacific Pediatric Sleep Alliance, and was associate editor for the journal Sleep and on the editorial board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.  She also has been on the Board of Directors of the National Sleep Foundation, established to educate the public about sleep and sleep disorders, and the Sleep Research Society. Jodi recently received the Mary A. Carskadon Outstanding Educator Award of the Sleep Research Society.

I can’t imagine a person more qualified to speak about babies’ sleep. If you’re a parent looking for answers to your baby’s sleep problems, I hope you find them here.

Leave a Reply