Parents of toddlers and preschoolers know that after logging long hours of night feedings, diaper changes and newborn parenting, there is an expectation that as children grow their sleep problems will disappear. However, for many parents this is not the case. Elizabeth Pantley offers a message of hope and reassurance for sleep deprived parents in her book, the No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers [Mc Graw-Hill, 2005], and offers parents the tools to create a sleep plan to help their child sleep better.
When Should a Child Sleep Through the Night?
Pantley first addresses the widespread assumption that children should be sleeping solidly through the night by the time they are six months to one year old. Since children and adults both move through various stages of sleep throughout the night, there are times which every sleeper will briefly awaken and then fall back asleep for several more hours. Young children, however, often need assistance to fall back asleep after even the briefest awakening. So, if your two year old still wakes up once a night and needs your help to fall back asleep again, rest assured that you are not alone. Pantley reminds us that 47% of all toddlers wake up at least once per night and need a parent’s help to fall back asleep.
Help Your Child Sleep Better, and Yourself Too
Moving from disrupted sleep to a sound sleep in an arrangement that suits all the members of your family is not necessarily a quick or easy thing to do. Pantley acknowledges this, and provides a smorgasbord of ideas that sleep deprived parents can choose from to help their child sleep better. Night weaning, moving a child into her own bed, transitioning from a crib to big-kid bed and dealing with nightmares are all covered, along with tips on creating a bedtime routine and how to determine just how much sleep your child actually needs.
What About Crying it Out?
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers is aimed at those parents who want to avoid sleep training programs which recommend leaving children to cry themselves to sleep, although Pantley does acknowledges the “considerable difference between letting a tiny baby cry in the night and letting a four-year-old cry when he’s put to bed but would rather stay up and watch a movie.” While some crying may be inevitable, Pantley’s approach is based on consideration for the child’s emotional needs and gradual but consistent changes.
Whether you’re worn out from listening to your child cry during sleep training or you’re trying to encourage a frequent night-nurser to fall asleep without the breast, Pantley offers information and sleep solutions for parents based on the science of sleep and many years of parenting her own four children. The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers doesn’t promise a quick fix, but does provide you with the resources you’ll need to make an informed and committed change to help your child sleep better.
Disclaimer: I borrowed The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers from my public library to review.
Originally published on Suite101.com on February 17, 2009.