I purchased this book along with Pantley's "The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night" out of desperation to find some way to help my then 8 month old son sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time.
Some background data: my son is an extremely high energy, high spirited, self-determined little man. He's a very happy baby but not the kind who will be content to sit in a swing and "relax" for more than a couple of minutes. We phased out night feedings, with the OK from our ped, at about 5 months. After only a couple of rough nights at that, he was going to sleep rather easily and would sleep from about 7:30pm until 12am, get up once and have to be patted back to sleep (for about 10 minutes) then back to sleep until 6am. We had a "bedtime routine" in place at about 4 months- turn down TV, dim lights, feeding, bath, quiet play time, books, rocking and to bed drowsy but not sleeping. Getting up once wasn't that hard and we were content with our nighttime schedule and our son was getting enough sleep and very happy during the day.
Then at about 6 months he started to get ear infections- one after the other and the total time handling ear infections was about 2 straight months. Right after that he got his first cold which lasted about a week and a half. During this time his sleep schedule was really bad. We had to hold him most of the night because it hurt him too much to lay flat in his crib and he would wake a lot from the pain. After he was no longer ill, he became used to my husband or me holding him at night and being constantly with us. So, he started waking up 3-4 times a night and it would take patting his back for about 10-25 minutes each time to get him to go to sleep again and sometimes he'd get so upset I'd have to pick him up and walk him around the house for 30 minutes or so before he'd fall asleep again. After many months of really poor broken up sleep I was desperate to find a solution.
We tried Pantley's book first because I was extremely opposed to any sleep solution that allowed my baby to cry for ANY length of time. We implemented ALL the techniques in "The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night" for just over 2 months. At the end, the result for us was that it made our son need us even MORE to go to bed and during the night. He absolutely would no longer go to sleep on his own- if we put him to bed drowsy but not 100% asleep, as soon as he touched the crib he'd jerk himself awake and start to get hysterical if we didn't immediately pick him up. To even get him into his crib we'd have to feed him a bottle until he was almost asleep and stand and bounce him for at least 15 minutes each night until he was 100% asleep and he would wake up and cry for us 6-8 times a night and it would take rocking, patting, walking him around for a total of about 3-4 hours each night. My husband and I were beyond exhausted and so was my son. We were crabby. He was crabby. We even took him to the doctor to make sure there was no medical situation causing his lack of sleep (which I would definitely recommend every parent do before implementing ANY sleep solution- make sure there are zero medical issues hindering their ability to go and stay asleep). He checked out perfectly healthy. (The techniques in Pantley's book may work for many babies and families and I'd hoped that it would for our baby/family but it didn't. Every child is different and there really is no "one size fits all" solution when it comes to them.)
So, desperate for sleep, I decided to "give in" and try the sleep lady shuffle as described in Kim West's book (basically, put the baby in the crib drowsy, sit in a chair next to the crib, soothe him briefly by touch/words if he gets upset then sit back down and do this until he falls asleep. After 3 nights next to the crib, move a bit away from the crib/closer to the door and do the same thing etc.) I knew to expect some crying but by this point my son was just over 10 months old and I'd learned what his different cries meant- hysterical when he had a bad dream or fell down while practicing walking, whine type crying when he was tired or hungry, mad crying when he couldn't get what he wanted etc. Beforehand, my husband and I agreed that if my son got hysterical we would end it right away and we'd only try it for an hour- if he was still not sleeping and was upset/cranky/crying after 60 minutes, we'd end it and look for another solution. Personally I could never feel good about anything that made my son so upset he became hysterical (as in Ferber's CIO until you puke method- that's just me.) I made my husband do the first night as I did not want to hear my son cry. The first thing we did (after his normal bottle/bath/book bedtime routine) was explain to him what was going to happen- he's a big boy now and needs to go to sleep so he can get big and strong but daddy will be in the room the whole time until he falls asleep etc. We also gave him his favorite stuffed toy to sleep with. I listened/watched on and off from our video monitor. My husband put our son in his crib, covered him and sat in the chair next to the crib. At first there was no crying- he just stood up and looked at my husband as if confused on why he wasn't being patted to sleep. Then he started to cry. My husband just stayed completely calm and sat next to the crib. I was surprised to hear his cry sounded more annoyed than really upset. He'd cry for a bit then stop and listen to hear if we were going to get him. Cry again, stop for a couple minutes, cry for half a minute etc. Then he'd lie down, whimper, stop and listen, cry, stand up, lay down etc. This lasted just under 30 minutes and he fell asleep and slept through the entire night without waking ONCE- until 6:30am- 10.5 hours! The next night it was the same except he cried for 20 minutes (and slept through the night). By night 3 he cried for 6 minutes then fell asleep. He did wake up once at 2am and my husband went to check on him to make sure he was OK- hadn't peed through his diaper, wasn't sick etc. He was fine, so my husband told him it was "sleepy time", gently laid him back down, sat next to the crib and my son whimpered for less than one minute and fell back asleep for the rest of the night. Night 4 was even better. One thing we are doing though- which is what we do with ALL parenting books/advice - is take what we like and throw out the rest. Try what we liked, if it doesn't work, modify it or abandon it. I thought that only 3 days next to the crib and then moving to the door was too fast a transition so we're staying next to the crib longer and only moving a foot away at a time. I noticed that when I leaned over my son's crib to hug him, he'd cry harder after I let go - I found it best to just lightly pat his back or briefly rub his head and tell him "It's OK. I'm here. Go to sleep now." and "shh.. shh.." You just have to pay attention to your own child's signs and figure out what works for them.
Note: After about a week of this method, my whole family came down with the flu. Of course during this time, we did not use any "method" to get my son to sleep as he needed our touch and closeness to sleep since he didn't feel well. Once he was 100%, we started over with Step 1 of the shuffle and it worked again- fell asleep with minimal whine type crying and then slept through the night!
I was really against allowing my son to cry at bedtime- even slightly- even for a moment, but when my options boiled down to starting to irrationally resent being a mother because I was so sleep deprived I could barely see straight or my son shedding a few NON-hysterical, "I'm mad at you" type tears for a few nights only and then sleep wonderfully and wake up extremely happy- that was the lesser evil for me. With our next baby, if he/she is not as "high needs" as our son, I will try Pantley's methods again first (but not for 2 months this time). If they don't work with the new baby, I won't hesitate to use the sleep lady shuffle - as a couple of semi-rough nights are worth a baby (and mom and dad!) who is happy and healthy because he/she is getting enough rest.
The bottom line is: every child is different- some things will work for one child but not at all for another. So use common sense, follow your instincts as a parent, try out advice/solutions that you, as the parent, are OK with for THAT specific child and if it doesn't work, try something else. One of my friends has a 2 year old son who is very "chill" and calm. They tried Ferber's method when he was 7 months old and her son only cried slightly for less than 10 minutes, for less than 5 days and then went to bed really happy with no complaints and slept through the night ever since. She had also gone with her instincts as a parent and decided that if her son got too upset or cried longer than 15 minutes that she would get him - going against the Ferber technique. She took the parts that she thought useful to her and threw out the rest. I know for sure that method would not have worked with my son so I didn't even try it. Not every solution will work for every single child but the sleep shuffle technique did work for our son.