After thousands of years, one would suppose appropriate sleep routines would be ingrained in our traditional childrearing practices, but somehow we've lapsed, so it's fortunate Elizabeth Pantley felt called to retrain us in mindful, deliberate ways to support children's healthful rest.
Following her insightful, reliable guide to helping babies settle into sleep better (No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night 2002), Pantley presents the next step, a fresh look at sleep issues with practical, logical help for parents of older children.
She gives sound information, wise, caring opinions, and down-to-earth strategies such as her "gentle removal plan" and morning fairy rewards, but no harsh, extinction-based or cry-it-out "programs" to follow. With respect for children and parents, in understandable, friendly language, she explains basic normal sleep patterns and problems, lays out how to develop customized "sleep plans," and offers general tips, precautions, and a variety of options parents might consider.
Her material is well organized with a useful table of contents and extensive index, and she covers, in detail, aspects of sleep other resources overlook. The topic of nursing toddlers at bedtime, for example, is treated with specific step-by-step advice. Again and again, Pantley provides the prep work for parents' decisionmaking with multifaceted, cogent overviews, such as the evaluation of mechanics, construction, and coziness of beds and cribs including child preferences and participation, safety, bedding, allergens, placement and environment.
In a positive, sympathetic manner, she knowledgeably assists readers thinking through such subjects as schedules, napping, waking, dreams, fears, tooth grinding, bed-wetting, separation, transferring beds, adoption, twins, snoring, normal problems vs actual disorders, and daylight saving changes. With brevity and substance, she jogs parents' awareness to help them work out their own choices for their own families.
Pantley is a dedicated researcher with a mother's perspective who converts what she studies into accessible, compassionate guidance with real life application. She has a gift for clarity and is responsible about facts and data, as evidenced by her approach to putting the book together: Forty-four volunteer test families around the world, of varied configurations, read her initial manuscript and followed Pantley's directions, reporting back to let her "peek into their naptime and bedtime routines, problems and successes," and 245 families completed extensive sleep surveys. (Interesting snapshots of some of their sleeping children in various circumstances- a two-year-old's feet extended over the top of carpeted stairs, siblings entwined, sound asleep fathers snuggling, a three year old tipped forward from an upholstered chair onto a foot stool- are interspersed among the text, a sweet touch.)
As in her other encouraging works, Pantley puts her heart into this one. The understanding and patience she imparts diminish parental frustration and the versatile selection of practical ideas helps families handle challenging adjustments sensibly.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers should become a basic parenting standby.