Book Review: The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley

The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw Hill, 2005)
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers – Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw Hill, 2005)

In sixteen months of parenting, this is the first parenting book I’ve read. While I’ve definitely been guilty of the middle-of-the-night-google-search (Always a bad idea. Always), my parenting resource so far has been friends. I have a few trusted friends who are slightly further along the road on this gig than I am and whose kids I happen to like. When I’m wondering how to deal with a situation/is this normal, they’re the ones I go to.

But when I saw this book in the thrift store for a dollar, I figured it couldn’t hurt. I’d flipped through Pantley’s first book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution (geared towards infants) in the book store and thought I generally agreed with her style.

First, a little background: Pearl has generally always been an okay sleeper. She slept through the night at a few months old, though not consistently. I nursed her to sleep until she was around seven months old when we sleep-trained. From that point she slept through the night probably 80% of the time. Most recently, she’s gotten in four molars and in the last month we’ve been away and had a few disruptions to her routine and so she hasn’t slept through the night much in the past few months. I still nurse her right before bed (though not until she’s asleep) and when she wakes in the night. My goal is to wean her completely by the end of the summer.

All that is simply to point out that everyone has different goals and desires when it comes to how and when their children sleep. One of the things I appreciated most about Pantley’s advice is basically something I’ve said all along: Do what works. If the way you get your child to sleep and how you spend the night works for you and your family, then you don’t have a problem. But if you don’t like the way things are, she might be able to help you.

Pantley’s advice is very breastfeeding and co-sleeping friendly. I appreciated her chapter on night weaning and have already instigated some of it and I’ve stopped nursing Pearl when she wakes at night. We’re not co-sleepers (though we did it for the first time in June when we travelled) so some of the advice wasn’t relevant and I did skip over a couple of chapters. One or two I might come back to when Pearl’s older. (Like when we make the transition from crib to toddler bed.)

Pantley doesn’t offer any quick fixes and is pretty straight forward about it. She does offer a lot of grace and some ideas of how to gently guide your toddler toward the behaviour that you want to see. A lot of the book’s suggestions are geared toward kids a little older than mine – kids you can discuss things with a bit more than you can with a sixteen-month-old – but there are many simple suggestions that aren’t overwhelming and feel easy to implement. Since reading this book, we’ve placed more emphasis on our house on bedtime routine and making sure the time right before Pearl goes to bed is quiet and calm. Pearl knows the steps now and knows what to expect next. I’m not into long and complicated bedtime routines but, as Pantley points out, spending a little longer on her routine is better than spending that time getting up with her repeatedly after we’ve put her to bed.

Overall, I think reading this book gave me more confidence in what we were already doing. No, my toddler doesn’t sleep through the night one hundred per cent of the time. And that might be the case for months longer. Maybe years (though I hope not!). But it’s also the case for many other families and it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with ours. In the meantime, if you’re willing to put in the time for a few rough nights, there are some things you can do to make things better.

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