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Attachment Parenting

No-Cry Sleep Solution Discussion
From Our AP Forum Archives
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From twokats: This thread is for anyone who would like to discuss Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution. I currently have one son, 9 months old, who was waking as many as six or seven times a night. I have been so exhausted that I absolutely had to find a solution. We got so desperate that we went against our firm convictions against CIO and tried it a couple of times to no avail (thankfully!). Apparently my son doesn't believe in it either because he was absolutely relentless and didn't let us get away with letting him cry. We knew there had to be a better solution, so I got this book. It has (even in one week) helped us significantly. We have successfully established a sleep routine for our baby and he has been getting more and better sleep this week. Last night he slept through the night!!! (midnight to six this morning)

It is written with the breastfeeding, co-sleeping family in mind, and encourages flexibility and a gradual approach to sleep changes. You have to be committed to the approach in order for it to work, and you can't expect miracles. Over time, though, I really believe it will help.

We have been fighting a battle of my son not wanting to go down in his crib since starting this, but today he went down for both naps AND bedtime IN HIS CRIB!!! WOOO HOOO! don't get me wrong . . . I'm not against co-sleeping. We've been doing it all along. it's just that my son is crawling now, and I don't feel safe leaving him alone in our bed when he goes down for naps. He wakes up and he's immediately off. When he wakes in the middle of the night, we bring him to bed with us.

My husband feels I should put this disclaimer in--he is of the opinion that this book isn't changing Matty's sleep--it's changing our attitude toward his sleep habits, and that is what is making it work for us.

From Lenore: I got this book and thought it was great (I keep recommending it), but by the time it came in, our situation had already improved! However, it was very confirming to read some of the things she wrote, especially ones that we did. And it made me stop and think about how far we'd come in developing a good pattern for our family. Right now, my 18-month old MOSTLY sleeps well once we get him down, but during the last month, the "getting him down" has become problematic. Maybe this thread will inspire me to break the book back out and give it a try.

From Michelle: Our sleep issues are that my daughter (11 months) wakes several times a night to be comforted back to sleep. Sometimes I can get her back to sleep in a minute, sometimes it takes an hour or longer. This happens anywhere from 0 to 10 times a night. She is also a poor napper, it often takes 20-30 minutes for her to settle down and then she'll only sleep 15-30 minutes before waking up. She doesn't fall asleep on her own at all - either my husband or I have to be lying next to her, holding her hand, in our bed. We co-sleep, obviously, and if I try to move her she wakes up. I try to slip away while she is sleeping. How do I put this ~ on some days I am exhausted from her being up half the night, and on other days I couldn't sleep another wink if I was paid to! If she wakes and I am up, she wants to be up too. I think her cue (and her lovey) for sleeping is ME (or dad) asleep.

The first area I am working on is getting her to take longer, regular naps, hoping this will help her sleep better at night. In her book, Elizabeth Pantley states that usually a nap under an hour doesn't "count." Wow - no wonder I have an overtired, irritable daughter by nightfall! For a few days I watched her cues and determined that she needs two naps a day, morning and early afternoon. I follow a flexible, predictable schedule during the day with a naptime routine. When she wakes after a short period of time, I try to coax her back to sleep before she wakes fully. After about a week of this I am seeing some improvement - one day she took 2 - 2 hour naps! Now, if she would only keep that up and then, if I could slip away during them . . .

In addition to helping her learn to fall asleep on her own I would like to get her in her crib for naps and also for part or all of the night. Like Kelly, we've encountered some safety issues with co-sleeping but I'm not opposed to it. I haven't decided yet whether to set up a crib sidecar, put our mattress on the floor, or just buy a twin mattress for her room and skip the crib.

Looking forward to hearing how No Cry Sleep Solution is working for others.

From twokats: Bedtime routine for us (fortunately) has been very well established since about three months of age. I did know that this was an important part of a kid's life, so I was committed to it early on. It is flexible, though. We do the same thing every evening, give or take an hour.

We give Matty a bath anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30 (depending on how efficient I was with dinner!). Dad is usually the primary bather, but sometimes I do it and sometimes we do it together (depending on the condition of the kitchen and who is cleaning up! ) After his bath he is usually pretty tired, so we start the bedtime routine right away. If he is too tired, sometimes he is "wired." I then let him play it out for another half an hour or so by watching a baby mozart video. These seem to really calm him. Then we rock, nurse, cuddle, and I put him down asleep. I have not been able to successfully put him down drowsy EVER. I really wish I could. He has been very very dependent on nursing to sleep until recently. Now he will sometimes break the seal himself and I put him on my shoulder right away and rock. I say his cue words "shh shh . . . time for sleep, lay your head down" and he settles right away. I use a gymboree (one of those soft tee-shirt material type blankets) "nigh-night" blanket. I tried to get him to like a lovey, but he throws it onto the floor, then watches it fall, then gets all excited. When I put the "nigh-night" on him, he seems to know it's time to sleep. He has NEVER taken any kind of artificial nipple or transition object, so i don't expect him to start now.

I have seen improvement in a few things, but it's hard to say how consistent it will be yet as we have been doing this for just a week.

1. Bedtime routine has become even better with cue words. It takes much less time to settle down and get into a deep sleep now - about 15 minutes.

2. Fewer night wakings, but haven't seen a consistent pattern yet, and last night wasn't the greatest, due to the fact that he was very congested.

3. Yesterday he went down in his crib every time without protest. Huge step.

4. More regular naps.

5. Less dependent on nursing to sleep.

From stargirl: I'm really interested in comparing notes and getting support. I pounced on the book and started it right away only to discover that we had no nap or sleep routines. It took awhile to find something doable. She has gone to sleep easily at night for months (we were doing something right!) and I can get her back to sleep quickly by nursing. I wanted to get her to wake less often and to not have to have the all night latch going on. I also want her to nap by herself during the day occasionally.

After doing the Pantley Gentle Removal Plan (or as I think of it - the pull off) she no longer has to be latched on all night. I can now nurse her back to sleep in a few minutes on average and then roll on my back (hallelujah) for sleep. I saw improvement with the pull off in just a week or so.

She still wakes up quite often, though. Last night was weird. She woke every 45 minutes from 8 pm til 1 am, nursed back to sleep. I didn't sleep at all. Then we both slept from 1 am-6 am! Five hours in a row. She hasn't done that since February. However, I think this is because I gave up trying to use the side-car bed and just put her in the crook of my arm. Who cares, 5 hours is 5 hours!

From kiki's_momma: I haven't read the book but am wondering if I need it. What do you ladies think? Here's our routine. I am hoping you will assess it. I have been going back and forth on whether I should read the book or "not fix something that ain't broke."

My daughter is 14 months old and sleeps with us (has since birth). I've pretty much followed her lead on sleeping. She is now at a stage where she takes 1 or 2 naps a day. I think she has been transitioning from 2 naps down to 1 nap. On days she has 2 naps, she will get sleepy for the first nap around 11 a.m. and the second nap around 4 pm. On days she has 1 nap, she takes the nap around noon or 1 and usually sleeps for 1.5 hrs. On two nap days her naps are usually 1 hour each. She used to have to be in the sling, in the rocking chair with white noise on and nurse to fall asleep for naps. Now she actually likes to nurse a little before hand but wants to fall asleep off the breast. We have gotten into the habit of going for a walk around 11 and she will nap in the jogger. If she falls asleep while in the rocking chair, I put her in the bed.

She's usually ready for bed around 7:30 or 8 p.m.-- more so on days when she has only had one nap. She takes a bath, gets in her jammies after a few minutes of "nakie" time, then plays a while and then we say night-night to daddy and the kitties and go in the bedroom. I turn the lights out and put on lullabies telling her it is sleepy time. She nurses awhile and then usually rolls over and falls asleep and I sneak out. Sometimes I have to unlatch her--this usually wakes her up a little and she rolls over and goes back to sleep. Prior to her first canines starting to come in last week, she might sleep from when I put her to bed until 3 a.m.-- then nurse back to sleep and wake probably 2 more times before waking up for the day around 7- 7:30.

Generally I felt pretty well-rested with this schedule. Lately she wakes up more frequently due to the teething and I am more tired plus I have a horrendous cold. Ok, what do you think? Is her sleep too variable? Should I be trying to get her naps to be more consistent? It seems really difficult to get her to nap if she isn't very tired. She has always fought going to sleep unless she is quite sleepy. I haven't read the book because, frankly, I get insecure about my parenting when I read parenting books.

From stargirl: Kiki's_momma, it sounds like things are working well for you. If your main concern is getting her to sleep faster at night, then why don't you just work on that? The book suggests having the last hour before bed be quiet and somewhat darkened. I only do it for 30 minutes, actually, and it seems to help a lot. Maybe you are already doing that, though.

From Celia: I know it's meant for younger children, but would the concepts work for a girl just turning 4?

From neza: I don't know about a 4 year old. You might try researching something called the "flop to sleep" method. The biggest thing I learned from the book is that a nap of less than an hour doesn't count as sleep. This is true for Sarah. If she only gets a short nap, she's a little crabcake later in the day. I've found that she sleeps best where I can keep an eye on her (on big floor pillows in the living room) so that when she stirs I can "shush" her back to sleep. When she gets a better nap, she's actually ready for bed earlier in the evening, so we win both ways.

From twokats: kiki's_momma, sounds like your plan is working. i wouldn't worry about it too much unless the night waking becomes too big of a problem. i would be thrilled with only one or two stirrings a night. The book itself will help you evaluate your plan, confirm what you do or help you to "tweak" it to improve it. It might not be revolutionary. Sometimes it's nice just to be validated.

From Michelle: Celia - I do think it is geared toward younger children but the author states that the test moms had babies as old as 5 with sleep difficulties. I skimmed the book and some suggestions she makes for older children are: set up a "sleeping spot" in your room where she can quietly go to in the night should she wake, write (make with poster board or heavy paper) a special book to read before bed, make a bedtime poster demonstrating the steps to bedtime and help her follow the chart each night, use "tickets" (in limited number) for out-of-bed habits like a drink of water, potty, etc. She also emphasizes a flexible schedule and nighttime routine for all ages.

Twokats, thanks for sharing your routine. Ours is similar but I can't get my daughter to doze off before putting her down. Nursing won't do it, and she doesn't sit still long enough to be rocked to sleep. My only solution was to lie down and help her rest but now that's the habit I'm hoping to break! I intend to try playing soft lullabies and I started using cue words too. I hoped to introduce a lovey but she just wants to play with it.

From Jenibv: I just got the book and it has interesting info. For me, Kayla's sleeping habits went bad when I went back to work. Trying to follow the steps in the book will be hard since I do work full time. I am trying the techniques at night and am hopeful she won't wake 12-15 times a night and may go down to 5 times a night or something reasonable. We do co-sleep with her in the attachment . . . I am keeping my fingers crossed.

From tuckersmama: I need to pick up this book! I have not even read any sleep threads on this board, because I'm too tired LOL! Here's our routine (which is obviously not working, IMO): Tucker is 8 months. He is an awful napper. He has to nurse to sleep. I am able to pull the nipple out now, though. For naps, I have to lie down in bed with him. He goes ballistic in the crib He will only sleep for naps for about 30 minutes. The slightest noise wakes him. For bedtime, we have dinner, then a warm bath, then put jammies on, then daddy or I will lay down with him, read him a few books, and I'll then step in to nurse him (in bed) until he drifts off. Then we sneak out. Now, this process has taken sometimes over an HOUR. He wakes up frequently through the night (at least 5 times). He gets mad unless the nipple is promptly placed in his mouth. He will nurse for sometimes 30 seconds, sometimes 30 minutes, before going back down. My husband and I are tired Any suggestions?!?!

From stargirl: This is addressed to everyone - how long does your baby nap and how are you working on getting them to nap longer? Juliana will usually nap on her own for about 40 minutes, but two hours or more if she's in the sling. I'm trying Pantley's idea of first having her in sling, then laying her down and rushing in to put her back to sleep when she wakes up at 40 minutes. So far it's not working, but I have only done it for a few days.

From mary1: I picked up the book over the weekend. However, I am stuck on the part about the logs. I have kept track of my daughter's sleep times since she was about 12 weeks old in my planner. A question for those of you incorporating the book already - How important is the very specific logs? Should I just take the months and months of information I already have and move onto the next part?

About naps. At about 12 weeks, I began working on naps in earnest. Up until she was 6 months, she would usually take 3 naps each day. They would all last over an hour: the first two usually 2 hours and the third about an hour. Now, we are down to two naps each day. They both last around two hours. On an odd or out of the ordinary day, my daughter has one nap of about 3 hours. So far, naps have been pretty easy. It is just this darn getting up constantly at night. For naps, it really helped, once my daughter outgrew her co-sleeper, to transition her to her crib. This way, I do not have safety issues and I can nap in my bed occasionally for an hour without disturbing her.

From twokats: mary1--it sounds like you have the battle nearly won! Your baby naps so well, she is obviously very rested. Two 2-hour naps a day is plenty at her stage, and your logs are probably sufficient. What were you hoping to gain from the book--better nighttime sleep? You didn't mention that. if your baby is waking at night, it might be due to a transition stage she is going through and something that will have to be managed. For that the book might help.

Tuckers mama, it does sound like you have some tough sleep issues. you could probably benefit from this book. My main suggestion is to first take a look at it, then post questions and issues that arise from reading it. The book is sort of the starting point, and it would be tough and time-consuming (and a little like plagiarism) to try to convey all of the concepts in the book that could help you. We are happy to help, but it will be better when you have some of the base information. I felt very desperate to get this book and had Amazon two-day ship it to me. It's a very easy read. It's written for exhausted moms.

From Michelle: Stargirl, I'm working on naps and outlined my plan in my first post. As far as helping her back to sleep when she wakes early, I am right next to her when she starts to stir. Sometimes I have to encourage her to go back to sleep 2 or 3 times but overall she is napping better than she used to, and settling down quicker. I think the schedule is really helping (napping at about the same time each day), plus telling her beforehand that we're going to bed soon . . . "after lunch we'll take a nap", or "after I change this diaper then we will read a book and go to sleep." I've found that talking about naptime matter-of-factly like that she doesn't protest as long before settling down. She is now taking 2 - 1 hour (at least) naps, whereas previously she would take 2-3 very short naps and be very cranky in the evening.

From twokats: Stargirl, I too am working on regulating naps to get in two a day. Matty seems to operate on an every other day cycle. One day he takes short naps, then the next he takes longer ones. I want to get it so that he takes two sensible naps every day. Nap #1 is at about 10:00, and it takes him about ten minutes to settle. Nap #2 is at about 2 or 3:00 and this one seems to be the variable--harder to settle, not as long sleeping. This is the one I'm trying to improve.

From mary1: Naps have been pretty good. However, at night, I feel like I never get sleep. My daughter gets up constantly. One especially bad habit or personality trait of hers (I don't know which it is) is that she gets up each morning at about 2am and stays up for two hours. This is really hard to deal with and makes it hard for me to get sleep. In addition, she gets up before and after this time also. My husband and I love co-sleeping, but with her schedule and her wiggling in bed, my husband was getting no sleep at all and I was getting no sleep at all. So we have made the transition to the crib for the beginning of the night. But, by 4 am or so, I am so tired that I just bring her into bed. Then by about 5 am, my husband has to move her to her crib because she is moving around the bed so much. So, consequently, we are up all night. I bought the book because I would like to have her sleep at least four or five hours in a row. I think that since you think my sleep logs are okay, I am going to continue on with the book and put together a new bedtime routine.

From kiki's_momma: We had a rough night last night and I want to parasitize the sleep tips you have gained from the Pantley book again. My daughter was up at 3 am for about an hour--it might be teething but I'm not sure. It seemed like she was constantly sucking then pulling off and I started getting sore and irritated. I tried covering myself up (with my arms) and shushing her back to sleep but she had to be in contact with the nipple to go back to sleep or she would cry. She wasn't even hungry and just ended up holding one of them and sort of picking at it. Ouch! It's in these moments I think 'I'm gonna wean her, yes I am' but then I wake in the morning and admit to myself I couldn't really do it. How the heck do you get them to go back to sleep without the boob and without crying? Maybe I do need to sneak a peek at that book.

From twokats: kiki's mama, it does sound like teething. I have had to "discipline" my son from doing this. If he nurses any way other than the proper way, I close up shop and say, "that's all for now." If he fusses I sit with him in the rocker and lay him on my chest with his head on my shoulder. He can go to sleep this way as well as with nursing, though it takes a little longer (sometimes). He learned to go to sleep this way because of the "discipline." (know what I mean?) At first he fussed (but it was fuss or chew mama's boob off . . . take your pick) and he quickly learned to have an equally fond association with rocking to sleep as with nursing. Practice at nap time. Then work it into the nighttime routine.

From twokats: Are any of you seeing success with longer stretches of sleep at night? While we have seen improvement for napping, our nights are still not where I want them, and I'm starting to wonder . . . is this really going to work or is this woman just selling books with attractive titles? Help!

From stargirl: To answer your question, last night we saw longer stretches of sleep. However, that may be due to the Tylenol I gave her before bed! Normally, though, she's still awake 5 times a night, or more. But the pull-off (gentle removal) worked, so when I nurse her, I'm usually awake for 5-10 minutes instead of 30 minutes. And sometimes she just wants to touch the nipple and falls asleep right away. How cute! I'm with you; I'm interested to hear if anyone else on this board is having longer stretches of sleep because of what they do in the book.

From Ewan's Mum: Oh a subject near and dear to my once weary and now refreshed heart! My son was the worst there was this winter. He would nurse every two hours, would only go down if he was nursed or rocked to sleep for at least an hour and some nights, my husband had to rock him all night long in the hammock for him to stay asleep. Other nights he would cry all night if my breast wasn't in his mouth. We were zombies. Travelling anywhere was awful for me since he would only fall asleep with my husband if rocked in our hammock which meant breast duty sometimes all night. Now at 13 months he sleeps through the night - 8:00 pm to 6:00 am We, by coincidence, tried many of the ideas in Elizabeth Pantley's book by instinct: same routine each night, noting his sleep patterns etc. Only two things helped. When he hit 12 months, I stopped whipping my breast out at every little peep. And yes that meant that he fussed but, surprise! never more than 10 minutes. Second, my husband started putting him down more often and if he woke my husband would take care of him. Over the past couple of weeks instead of taking one hour of rocking, singing or breastfeeding, he now falls asleep in twenty after looking at a couple of books, drinking some water and playing with his monitor. Lights out after 10 minutes, puts his head on our chests for 5 then rolls away and is sound asleep in another 5 minutes. Quite honestly, though, I actually don't know how much of an impact our efforts have had and how much is simply a question of my son maturing and becoming sleep independent naturally. Of course, I know that he will go through phases of bad sleeping again. I believe that children are naturally driven to become independent, hence the desire to walk, feed themselves, dress themselves and this is the same for their sleep. Problems occur when their sleeping patterns do not fit with the needs of their parents.

Phew, all this to say that I believe Elizabeth Pantley does have good ideas, after all, by accident, we did what she suggested. But, eventually, if your children are healthy and well cared for they will probably figure out how to sleep on their own anyway (but can you survive until then??)

NAPS: My son naps longest if we are lying with him and can comfort him back to sleep immediately if he stirs too soon. Doesn't bother me. As his night time sleep works out, his naps will as well. At his daycare he likes to nap in a stroller and he will continue sleeping for as long as necessary to be refreshed if his care givers rock him if he starts waking too soon. In regards to naps, I refuse to get stressed about them as 1) I usually need a nap anyway 2) we will no doubt face more important issues in the future so there is no point getting worked up over this one, better to conserve energy.

From stargirl: Those are good words to keep in mind. I am probably more panicked than I need to be. I'm supposed to be a "work at home mom" and am afraid of losing that status if I don't produce enough. If I do lose that status, then I have to go back full time and my daughter goes into daycare. I'll spare you the details, but I know that is why I'd dearly love some more naptime from her. I'm afraid of the sleep deprivation since I nearly had a car accident last month. There is an interesting story at the end of Sears' "nighttime parenting" told from the baby's point of view. I love it! I am more relaxed at night when I remember how good my daughter feels to be right next to me. It's something I've re-read several times.

From twokats: It's 10:47 p.m and my son is up, happily playing and waiting until we go to bed to go down . . . an old habit which he has revived tonight. His bedtime routine was for naught tonight. A lot of effort and no dice. Thanks, I guess I'll just continue to go with the flow. He's gotta sleep sometime, and it's not like I don't give him opportunity. I think right now his mind is racing and he doesn't want to miss anything!

From twokats: Well, I know why he was so off last night. He has a horrible cold today and must have been coming down with it last night. I'll put the expectations on pause until he's better.

From nemm: Greetings fellow sleepless mommas. We have been doing the "no sleep solution" for the past 5 or 6 months. I could've written many of these posts. My 8.5 month old daughter has an extremely strong sleep-suck association; we call her the boob-aholic. It takes me 30-60 minutes to nurse her to sleep every nap and every night; nights she is up every hour, I have about 30 seconds to get her the boob, or she starts crying. I am exhausted, often angry and resentful toward her in the middle of the night, and also worried about sleep deprived car accidents. I waited with baited breath for the no cry sleep solution to arrive. I found much of the info about how babies sleep and how much sleep they need to be informative and helpful. Many of the suggestions were also helpful in theory, but the practice hasn't made much of a difference. I have been more aware of her naps, and making time/space for them. I have been trying the "Pantley pull-off" method; I am not sure how to do it before she actually falls asleep, more often I think I am doing it the minute after she nods off.

I also think that there has been a backlash from the pull off. For several nights now, she will only sleep nursing while laying across my chest, as opposed to us side lying facing each other, and I think it may be because she is sick of me pulling the nipple out on her? I am very very discouraged, and, like twokats, found myself considering moving the crib from sidecar, into its own room and letting her cry it out, but the truth is I have a very strong willed daughter, and I really can't imagine her putting up with that. I think she would just cry all night, every night until she was returned to our bed!! The past two nights she woke as frequently as ever, and last night she had a 1 hour crying spell around 4 am, but I was able to handle them better. I have been trying to do some relaxation visualizations and especially to spend a few minutes reminding myself how much I love her, and how much she needs from us right now, and that she won't always need it, before I go to sleep. This helped me quite a bit with the mid-night anger/resentment, which I feel terrible about. I am interested to see how others do with this plan. I am looking to you all for inspiration!

From twokats: I'm sorry to hear your woes. I was so excited about the book, but to be honest, I'm not sure how helpful it's going to be. I did really see improvement in nap schedule, and that I have to attribute to her suggestions. The "Pantley pull-off" thing though is nothing she should patent. I've been doing that for ages, and my son will have none of it. She constantly reminds the moms that this is not a cure-all and that it takes patience and is not an overnight solution, etc., so here's what i'm thinking . . . By the time we solve the sleep problems, ,my son will be mature enough and ready to sleep through the night.

We are about to move from DC to California in a few weeks. My son will be off his schedule as we drive cross-country (we are planning for it to take about seven days). During that time I know we won't be solving anything, so I am waiting for us to arrive there and for our household goods to arrive to try to make any progress in the night sleep department. When we get settled is when I'll begin in earnest. I have decided that no matter what, I want to wean him from night nursing. I don't think that fussing/crying a little while he is there with us in our bed is CIO, so this is something I'm willing to do. I think this is going to be the secret to getting a good night's sleep. I plan to do this by setting up a side car and gradually eliminating the night feedings. He eats and nurses very, very well during the day, so I know it's not hunger that is motivating his night waking. This is my plan we'll see how it goes.

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