I received an Advance Edition of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Sleep. It’s one of the most important things to parents, especially parents of newborns. They talk about it endlessly. People ask about it endlessly. Babies are labelled “good” or not based on their sleep habits. There are countless books and theories and plans all about baby sleep and how to get your baby to sleep more.
I first read Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Sleep Solution for Preschoolers almost four years ago, when my firstborn was about sixteen-months old. At the time, Pearl was a good sleeper but shortly thereafter she entered an almost year-long period where she struggled to fall asleep. It was hard. It put a strain on almost every part of our lives for a long time. My brother once told me that the hardest time to be a good parent is three o’clock in the morning and it is painfully true. (I’ll add that it’s also hard to be a good spouse!)
Pantley’s original No-Cry Sleep Solution was first published 17 years ago and has been translated into 27 different languages. (Which demonstrates that parents around the world are struggling with getting their children to sleep!) This new edition is updated and expanded by the author.
What I appreciated about Pantley’s book at the time and in the months to come when I dipped back into it for advice was that she didn’t promise easy fixes or a one-size-fits-all solutions. Obviously that sounds tempting but there really is no such thing and so when you “fail” at those other ideas, it’s easy to end up feeling like you’ve failed as a parent. Instead, Pantley offers a lot of ideas and gentle solutions. She encourages parents to stop comparing themselves, their babies, and their lives to others. Instead, focus on what you and your family need. What’s working? What needs to change? I so much appreciate her advice that if something was working for you and it’s safe for your baby, don’t change it. Even if it doesn’t necessarily fit with the advice of others. (For example, I heard a lot that you shouldn’t breastfeed your baby to sleep but when Pearl was an infant, that was what worked best for us. When we felt ready to stop nursing to sleep, Pantley’s book had some helpful ideas for that too.)
This updated edition of Pantley’s sleep classic sets out to inform a new generation of parents how to survive those early months (and, let’s be honest, years). She begins with some facts about newborn sleep that are actually really helpful. Did you know that five hours is considered a full night’s sleep for a newborn? Or that a newborn’s stomach is so small that most of them need to eat every 2-3 hours? It’s good to be informed about what our expectations of infant sleep can reasonably be and set our expectations accordingly.
From there, Pantley encourages parents to create a sleep log and examine what you’re doing and what’s working and what’s not. The book has lots of space on the page to chart the hours and your habits, as well as space to map out your bedtime routine and patterns. It’s definitely helpful to have this all in one place. The book does veer into the repetitive as it goes on to highlight some of the possible issues and solutions but if I were currently a sleep-deprived parent, that might actually be helpful.
Every baby and child is different. My own two girls were vastly different sleepers as babies and continue to have different habits and needs. It’s good to have a book that acknowledges this and I think Pantley’s writing and advice will offer both encouragement and support to parents in the thick of it. If you’re the parent of a child (whatever the age) who doesn’t sleep well, I’m sure you could find helpful information in here.