Chasing Cheerios

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The No Cry Sleep Solution

I recently received an email from Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No Cry Sleep Solution, asking me to link to her new website by providing a quote from one of her books (and she would also link to my site). As I perused her website, I realized that her timing couldn't have been more perfect as O had been gradually getting more and more off schedule with her naptimes and bedtimes. She was typically not going to bed until 11pm or later, and our nighttime routine was taking more than an hour. I found these 8 tips from the No Cry Sleep for Toddlers and Preschoolers to be very helpful:

Eight Sleep Tips For Every Child

The following sleep ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, regardless of age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your child’s sleep, but also in her daytime mood and, last, but certainly not least – improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.

1. Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time seven days a week.

Your child’s biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake up time you “wind” your child’s clock so that it functions smoothly.
Aim for an early bedtime. Toddlers and preschoolers respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M, and most children will actually sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.

2. Encourage regular daily naps.

Daily naps are important since an energetic child can find it difficult to go through a long day without a rest break. A nap-less child will often wake up cheerful and become progressively moodier, fussier or hyper-alert as the day goes on, and as he runs out of steam. Moreover, the length and quality of naps affects nighttime sleep – good naps equal better night sleep.

3. Set your child’s biological clock.

Take advantage of your child’s natural biology so that he’s actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase in the release of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone, and it is the biological “stop” button. You can help align your child’s sleepiness with his bedtime by dimming the lights in your home during the hour before bedtime. Exposing your child to morning light is like pushing a “go” button in her brain — one that says, “Time to wake up and be active.” So keep your mornings bright!

4. Develop a consistent bedtime routine.

Routines create feelings of security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your active child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state required to fall asleep. A specific before-bed routine naturally and easily ends with sleep.
An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics that must occur before bed: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time of day when you are most tired and least creative.

5. Create a cozy sleep environment.

You may have never given much thought to where your child sleeps, but it can be one of the keys to better sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm enough, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy and the bedroom is welcoming.

6. Provide the right nutrition to improve sleep.

Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrate-rich foods can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bedtime snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar granola.

Vitamin deficiencies that are due to consistently unhealthy food choices can affect a child’s overall health, including her sleep. Make your best effort to provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods.

7. Help your child to be healthy and fit.

Many children don’t get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching, coupled with a lack of activity amounts to a sedentary lifestyle – which prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily physical exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer and wake up feeling more refreshed.
Avoid physical activity in the hour before bedtime, though, since exercise is stimulating and has an alerting effect – so they’ll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!

8. Teach your child how to relax and fall asleep.

Many children get in bed but aren’t sure what to do when they get there! It can be helpful to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that helps create feelings of sleepiness. A common component of the bedtime ritual is story time, and for good reason. A child who is listening to a parent read, or tell a tale, will tend to lie still and focus on the story. This quiet stillness will allow him to become sleepy.

Commit to working with these eight ideas and you’ll likely see improvements in your child’s sleep, and yours too.

While we already did many of these things, there are definitely areas that we need to work on. Her website is full of great ideas, and I'm excited to see that she has downloadable newsletters for parents. This is a great resource that I can use with parents that I work with as well as at home!


  1. I found this method very helpful with both my babies - I hope it works for you too!

  2. I have to say that I am so very excited about this! Not sure if you remember me recommending it a few years back. I read her book when Charlie was very little and having issues. I have recommended it to several different friends in the past weeks on Facebook. It is a wonderful book and the concepts work when you stick with them. Even for 3 kids with 3 very different personalities! YEAH!! I am just so happy that she contacted you, and I hope it works for you and your little ones!
    Love ya!

  3. Oh, and the whole going to bed earlier is so true for us. The earlier they go to bed the better and longer they sleep. If they are up late (meaning even 5 minutes until 8PM) they get their second wind and do not sleep becoming grumpy out of control children. This proves true for all of mine ages 6, 4, and 9 months (9 month old has been sleeping from 6:45 - 6:30ish) for months and does so on her on without tears.

  4. This is a great book. I used this for my little one. I remember reading her intro with Little Bird sleeping on my lap and crying that someone 'got me', my situation and could provide some kind suggestions. It felt like she was talking directly to me. Thanks for sharing her wisdom. (:

  5. I really like Elizabeth Pantley, but sadly, her techniques didn't work for my Munchkin ... none of them! (I bought ALL her books though ... and they work great for my much more textbook son. For Munchkin the less sleep during the day the better .... as soon as she dropped her daysleeping altoghether (in favour of quiet time) she started sleeping through the night, and settling down to sleep within 15 minutes. Wonderful books though and I"m glad you are highlighting them - anything that isn't cry-it-out gets a vote from me!

  6. I'm afraid they didn't work for my middle son - we tried every thing to get him to sleep. Our problem was not getting him to sleep - he had a brilliant bed time routime and went to sleep no problem e very night at 7pm. No - our problem was the night time waking. Every night he would spend up to 3 hours awake and screaming. We tried everything, the slow withdrawal, changing nap-times everything. In the end it was the dreaded cry it out method that worked, in 3 nights. I was sad it worked and that none of the more nurturing methods worked but 3 nights of crying was worth the 5 years of sleeping through the night we've enjoyed since. He's 7 now and those nights of trying to get him back to sleep still feature as some of my worst memories

  7. I read her book when my little J was around 4-6 months old and it was a DREAM!! The child is 3 now, goes to bed happy as a lark, wakes up happy as can be!! I love love love that book!!!!! Good choice in my opinion :-)

  8. It took me a long time (185 nights to be exact), but the No-Cry Sleep Solution worked for us too.