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The title of this book must speak to every new parent in the land. ‘No-cry’ …. that’s got to be good hasn’t it? ‘Sleep’ …. yes, yes, I remember that! ‘Solution’ … a solution? Gimme that book, I need it NOW!
The book is sub-titled ‘Gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night’, and that very much sums up the philosophy behind the book. The idea is that by understanding a bit more about babies’ sleep patterns, and making you aware of some of your own bad habits when it comes to bedtime, you can encourage your child into good sleeping patterns.
Part 1 of the book concentrates on the baby. The first couple of chapters highlight basic safety precautions and illustrate basic sleep facts. Advice on placing babies on their back to sleep, and things to think about if you chose to co-sleep are given.
Apparently for the medical profession ‘sleeping through the night’ is defined as sleeping five hours in one stretch. I think a mum who went to bed at 12am and was woken up again at 5am might beg to differ! But it might help someone who is feeling desperate to realise that their baby is quite normal, and not some sleepless monster sent to inflict havoc and sleep deprivation misery on the household. Could it be that you don’t want to let go of your child’s babyhood and dependence on you, and you are undermining your own efforts?
The next stage is to establish the current situation by keeping sleep logs, showing when and how baby went to sleep and the timings of any wakenings and feedings. The book then provides suggested sleep solutions, split into those appropriate for babies less than or older than four months. For newborns, suggestions include putting the baby down when asleep rather than cradling them in your arms, breaking the dependence on suckling to sleep and learning to recognise your baby’s sleepy cues. For older babies, Elizabeth Pantley suggests making sure they are well fed and comfortable when they are put down to sleep, establishing a regular bedtime and naptime routine (and avoiding making bedtime too late so that baby becomes overtired), and introducing a ‘lovey’ toy and bedtime music. The solutions include some suitable for bottlefed or breastfed babies, and co-sleepers.
After choosing the ideas which suit you and your baby best, the next step will be to create a personal sleep plan, and then put it into practice for 10 days before analysing the result. With the results of your analysis in mind, follow the plan for another 10 days. At this point, if you are absolutely desperate, Elizabeth Pantley outlines a limited controlled crying approach.
But after 20 days in total, a new set of sleep logs should (fingers crossed!) bring home the progress that you have made.
Part II of the book is much shorter and consists of two chapters aimed at you, the parent. (One annoying point is that the parent reading the book is always referred to as ‘Mom’ or ‘Mommy’.) What happens if you finally crack the problem of baby sleeping and then find that you can’t sleep yourself? And no matter what, you have to remember to cherish your baby and make the most of a very special time in both your lives, which is over all too soon.
I bought this book because I had tried controlled crying to a very limited extent with my first daughter, and I didn’t enjoy the experience. When baby number two came along, controlled crying didn’t even seem to be an option because I was worried that she would keep her sister awake all night.
I thought that this book would give me an instant solution to all my new baby’s sleep problems, and I was a bit disappointed to find that wasn’t the case. But as I read, I found myself coming across ideas that I’d tried myself with my older daughter, almost by instinct, and recognising bad habits that I’d fallen into with the new baby. I was comfortable with all the ideas suggested in the book, there was nothing that made me wince or struck me as unsafe. The commonsense and calm approach to the problem was very helpful, and after reading I felt much better informed, and able to take a more balanced approach to bedtimes.
Unfortunately, I am too disorganised to sit down and start completing sleep logs and writing action plans (I’m useless at following diets too!), so I felt that quite a large section of the book was not very useful to me. I’ve always struggled to get my baby to sleep, partly because of her fiercely determined temperament and partly because the needs of her older sister have made it difficult to allow the baby to settle into a day-time nap routine that really suits her personal sleep patterns. I couldn’t say that this book solved all my problems, but it did help me feel more aware of the issues, and I re-read it now and again to remind myself of what I am aiming towards.
‘The No-Cry Sleep Solution’ is not going to give you a magic wand to send your baby to sleep, but if you and your baby are struggling, it would be a very good investment. Even if your baby is sleeping well, it would help you to get a better understanding of what is going on to help avoid problems developing later on. I’d be tempted to get together with the other mums from my antenatal group and buy one copy to share.
The advice given is for newborn babies up to about 18 months, so it does not cover issues about moving children from a cot into a bed, or older children who start experiencing bad dreams or night terrors.
ISBN 0 07 138139 2 Published by Contemporary Books, 254 pages Available from Amazon price £9.99
"People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one." Leo J. Burke
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