Monday, January 13, 2014

Better sleep with the "No-cry Sleep Solution" #Review

If your babies are anything like mine were, you're reading this with foggy, sleep-deprived eyes.  My oldest child didn't sleep through the night until she was eighteen months old.  When she finally did sleep through the night, it only happened because I was too exhausted to hear her crying from her bedroom. I had our second child and, before I realized it, he was six-months-old and still waking to eat 4-5 times a night.  Even our daughter was down to only 1-2 night wakings at that age.  I justified his night wakings because of his eczema: maybe he was uncomfortable. However, his sleep was incredibly inconsistent and some nights he would go an entire 12-hour sleep stretch without eating at all. The nightly routine (or lack of routine) was really impacting the quality of my sleep and draining my energy for daytime activity.

When Elizabeth Pantley asked if I wanted to review another one of her parenting books (see my review of the No-cry Discipline Solution), I quickly decided that the "No-cry Sleep Solution" was a necessity for our family. We clearly needed some sleep help, but I didn't want to resort to harsh methods such as "Cry-it-out."  Not only was I uncomfortable leaving my son to cry alone in his room, but any extended crying would be extremely aggravating for his eczema. After reading more about Pantley's personal story, I knew that she really appreciated how I was torn between doing what was best for my baby and taking care of myself.  A sleep-deprived parent isn't a very fun parent.  Pantley calmed my anxiety about making a change, and provided lots of encouraging examples of success stories from her "Test Families" (families she worked with when writing this book).

What I loved was that Pantley did not toss out a cookie-cutter solution for every parent.  She addressed that some parents are going to be co-sleeping, while others have their child sleeping in another room. Both types of parents can continue doing what is right for their families while also encouraging their children to sleep longer.  This was the first time I had heard of suggestions for co-sleepers. I did a bit of nap-time co-sleeping while I was on maternity leave, but our son currently sleeps in a crib in another room. I know some co-sleeping babies who absolutely cannot sleep unless they are suckling at the breast. This book addresses solutions for parents in that situation. Pantley also discusses our expectations about what it means to "sleep through the night."
Pantley describes how it's impossible for your child to sleep all night: everyone has moments of light awakenings during the night.  She made the analogy of what it might feel like to wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself on the kitchen floor. You would be startled, surprised, and you couldn't sleep until you got up and went back to your bed.  Children also make sleep associations.  They may begin to associate sleep with nursing, the use of pacifiers, or being rocked.  In other words, sometimes a baby can't get back to sleep until you go and recreate the right environment that is conducive to sleep.  Now we need to break those sleep associations and create new ones where the baby puts himself back to sleep without your help.

In order to accomplish this goal of a good night's sleep, Pantley helps by offering many sleep suggestions and encouraging you do develop a sleep training plan. Obviously sleep training a newborn is going to be different than sleep training an older child, so there is a special section for babies age 0-4 months. I spent most of my time reading the section devoted to older babies. I was really interested in Pantley's "Gentle Removal Plan" that applies to pacifiers or nursing to sleep. Our son developed a reliance on pacifiers and he had trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep without one. Pantley also discusses sleep safety: not clearly related to helping my child sleep through the night.  However, I liked to check on our son before I went to bed. I realized that nightly check-ins were totally unnecessary and could potentially be disrupting his sleep.

We made some very positive changes to our son's night-time sleep habits within ten days. The biggest help was evaluating how our son was falling asleep at night. I used the method outlined in the book and was able to drastically reduce our reliance on pacifiers within a few days. Pantley asks you to assess how things are going after ten days of following your sleep plan.  We started working on our sleep changes in early December. In late December we did have some sleep set-backs due to traveling and teething, but within ten days we were back on track again.  Our son went from multiple night feedings at the beginning of December to no current night feedings.  He sleeps from 7:00 PM until 5:45 AM, and then he gets a pacifier and goes back to sleep until 6:30 AM.  I'm confident that we will eventually loose the 5:45 AM awakening once we completely eliminate the need for pacifiers.  The biggest surprise was that sleep-training our son did not involve any crying, and it worked very quickly for us. My husband was actively helping to achieve the goals of our plan, and there were some nights where I didn't even hear him getting up to comfort the baby. I must say, I am a lot more enjoyable to be around when I'm well rested!

When you're already sleep deprived, the though of taking time to read (when you could be sleeping) doesn't sound very pleasant. There is a tendency to want answers immediately and with minimal effort.  Although I really only spent a few hours reading the book, there is a solution for those who want quick ideas without the effort of staring groggily at text. Elizabeth has collaborated with "Kids in the House" to make short video tutorials available to view for free (just create a free account at Kids in the House).  You could also purchase the enhanced eBook of the No-Cry Sleep Solution that comes with videos at the end of each chapter. I really recommend grabbing a copy of this book (digital or print).  It's easy to skip around to the parts you're interested in if you want a quick summary of ideas to try. If you're really serious about improving your sleep, you're going to want to use the sleep tracker tools and sleep planners that accompany the advice in the book.

This book was provided for the purpose of my review. I was not required to publish a positive review.

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