Elizabeth Pantley’s ‘The No-Cry Sleep Solution’, or ‘When will my baby start sleeping through the night?’

the <font style='background-color: rgb(255, 255, 160) ! important;'>no-cry sleep solution</font>, gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night, cover showing a sleeping baby on the frontThe No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley is one of my all time favourite parenting books, particularly for the first two years (although I also recently referred to its sleep tables when considering changing my nine year old’s bedtime).

My first baby was not a good sleeper. Looking back with the experience of two more babies under my belt, I think that was partly to do with him, an partly to do with us and our inexperience. And when I say he was not a good sleeper, I don’t mean he was still waking up once or twice a night to feed at 12 months old. I mean at six months if he slept for three hours in a row I thought is was a miracle. By eight months, two hours seemed pretty good.

At eight and a half months I found The No-Cry Sleep Solution. It was wonderful.This book reinforced my notion that leaving my son to “cry it out” was not the solution. It also gave me a sense of normalcy, and solidarity with the many, many other sleep-deprived parents with babies who failed to ‘sleep like a baby’ (what a ridiculous saying that it!). It gave me tables showing how much sleep babies and children needed (day time and night time), it gave me hope and best of all, it gave me solutions.

What it didn’t give me was a one-size-fits-all miracle cure. Instead it outlined several different techniques to help with different aspects of sleep, from bedtime routines, to the “Pantley Pull-off” method, which helps you to teach your baby to fall asleep without sucking.

So The No-Cry Sleep Solution didn’t give us a miracle cure, and at twelve months our son still wasn’t even close to sleeping through, but it did help us to reduce the amount of time it took us to get him to sleep, and got us to a point where he was routinely sleeping in four hour stretches instead of one and a half hour stints. And eventually, when he was two, he did start routinely sleeping through the night, from bedtime until morning.

So does it work? This might not seem like a resounding success story, but from waking almost hourly to four hourly? Yes, it does!

When my second baby came along I did not want to go back to the sleepless nights I’d had the first time around. So, my favourite sleep book was dusted off and re-read, particularly the section on under four month olds.

A few of the things I did differently with my daughter were to

  • only use red light in her room at night, right from the beginning
  • not let her sleep for long periods (more than four hours) during the day
  • practice the pantley pull-off from the beginning
  • not immediately try to re-settle her when she started to grunt – but wait to see if she was really waking up.

Now, at five weeks old my daughter was diagnosed with ‘silent reflux‘, which I then immediately realised my son had had also.  This meant that although by this time she has lengthened her time between feeds to four hours,  she was typically crying for up to an hour after feeds at night, when I would be most wanting to get her straight back down.

After some research, I learned to feed her in a slightly more upright position, and – more importantly – I cut her back to feeding on only one side at a time. She immediately went back to needing to feed every three hours around the clock, but since that only meant the she – and I – were getting the same amount of sleep between feeds as previously, but without the hour of screaming (for her) and pacing (for me), I considered this to be a good adjustment!

Gradually, over the next six weeks, she again lengthened out the space between night feeds, until, at eleven weeks, she slept through the night for the first time. Now, “sleeping through the night” for a baby actually means sleeping for a five hour stretch between midnight and 6am, which is what she did at this point. But within a couple of weeks she also had her first nine hour over night stretch!

Now, adapting to the reflux issue was not specifically a benefit of the no-cry sleep solution method, but I do credit the book with much of the rest of my ‘success’ with my 2nd and 3rd baby’s sleep routines. Both of them slept through the night for the first time before three months. Both of them quickly went on to sleep for eight and even ten hour stretches at night without waking. Now, did they do this every night from then on? No way. They both had phases where they slept better or worse. My third child (who is now one) seems more sensitive to breaks in routine than the other two, so that if she has s cold for a week, it will take another month for her sleep pattens to get back to ‘normal’.

But, both children have slept considerably better when I have gone back to look again at Elizabeth Pantley’s advice and reapplied the no-cry sleep solution methods. So I definitely, highly recommend the book, for both parents of new babies, who want to get it right from the get-go, and parents of older babies, who would like to solve their baby’s sleep problems, or improve the sleep patterns they have fallen into.

I will close with an quote from Elizabeth Pantley. This is not from The No Cry Sleep Solution, but from The No Cry Nap Solution, but it so neatly sums up what I love about Pantley’s approach that it’s the one I want to share:

The No-cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night: Foreword by William Sears, M.D. (Pantley)Important Notice for Those Who Hold Sleeping Babies
If you really love having your sleeping baby in your arms and your daily schedule allows this pleasure, then continue on as your are, with my blessing. Don’t change what works for you and your baby, because someone else told you you should. If your baby is having long restful naps in your arms or sling, and you are happy holding him, go ahead and enjoy this precious, fleeting time in your life and his.
Don’t change what works today for fear of some future problems. It will likely be no harder or easier for your baby to make a change now or later, but it will be easier for you when you are truly ready and motivated to create change.

There will come a time when you feel ready to move your baby from your arms to his bed. It might be today, next month, or even next year. The right time is different for everyone, and your right time is when you should make that change – without guilt or anxiety.

I must now add one final word, which is that in The No Cry Sleep Solution, Pantley does advocate making an effort to put your baby down to sleep sometimes, and if you co-sleep, then letting your baby sleep alone sometimes, so that she does not become too dependant on contact with you for sleep. But I do love that she so strongly advocates doing what feels right and works for you and your family, and not buying into the fear that those who insist on stricter baby routines seem to want to instill.