Book review: The No Cry Sleep Solution
As you know, I am sleep obsessed (or deprived) depending on how the week is going! There was a point around this time last year, when I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a good night’s sleep and I really didn’t know how I could keep going. It wasn’t just me – Charlie was the same. We continued in our zombie-like state for weeks more, before I really reached breaking point. I was desperate for sleep, and it was affecting every aspect of my life.
Everyone we mentioned our sleeplessness to had a quick-fix for us. “Oh you need to get more food into him during the day, so he doesn’t wake for feeds at night.” “You need to wean him off the night feeds by offering him water instead of milk.” “Leave him cry, he has to learn to settle himself.” “Pick him up and cuddle him – it’s just separation anxiety.” “He’s obviously too hot to sleep.” “He’s obviously too cold to sleep.” But the truth is there was no quick fix for us. And yet everywhere I looked, everyone I spoke to, seemed to imply that if only we did everything right, Little Man would sleep. Which of course implies that he wasn’t sleeping because we were doing something wrong.
I began to feel there was a stigma surrounding babies who don’t sleep through the night once they’re past the newborn stage. “Is he good?” people ask, “Does he sleep?” As if the two things are somehow linked. “He’s great,” I’d answer, “But the sleepless nights are hard.” After a while, I stopped mentioning the sleepless nights, because people would invariably feel obliged to tell me their trick for getting a baby to sleep through – regardless of whether I asked for advice or not! So I became one of the silent sleep-deprived sufferers, because I was tired and cranky and I couldn’t take any more well meaning advice.
I continued the search for a solution, however, and eventually mid-way through a particularly bad week, I spotted The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley in a local bookshop. The title appealed to me, because I had long since discovered that Cry It Out wasn’t an option for me. I think I was expecting a quick fix when I bought this book. I was still hoping that if I figured out that one thing I was doing wrong, I’d soon join the ranks of parents whose babies STTN (that’s sleep through the night for those of you with night owls like mine!).
I got the book home and flicked through the pages, trying to speed read it to figure out what the big secret is. I finished flicking through, and was disappointed that I hadn’t spotted it on my first look through. So I started afresh, and opened the book at the Foreword, which was written by Dr. William Sears. In it, he says “I’ve always thought that it would be wonderful to have a menu of ideas that parents could try until they hit upon a magic antidote to help their baby sleep all night. Elizabeth Pantley has created just such a menu in The No Cry Sleep Solution.” Dr. Sears is right. That’s exactly what this book is.
But it’s more than just a collection of tricks to try. This book was a sanity saver for me. I read it and it told me “It’s okay – not all babies sleep through from a young age. In fact the ones that do are the exception.” I can’t begin to describe what an eye-opener that information was for me. So before this book taught me how to tackle sleeplessness, it first taught me to accept it. And once I accepted it, I was better able to cope with it.
The second thing this book taught me is that the solution would not be quick. It reminded me to take baby steps, and to note the small improvements. It told me to take it one day at a time. So I did. I read all the advice, and I tried the pieces that seemed to fit to our situation. I learned to be patient, and not to expect change overnight. I learned to appreciate the progress we were making. More importantly, I learned to recognise the progress we were making. I learned to keep trying, even when a new tactic didn’t work on the first try. And although it was still hard when we had a bad night and suffered from broken sleep, we had a better understanding of what was happening and why, and we were able to cope. Thankfully, I haven’t had to refer to this book in quite a while, because Little Man has been sleeping well (except when he is sick or teething like this week), but I am grateful that I found it when I did last year.