Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Experts: Elizabeth Pantley

Once again...ignorance was bliss.  Elizabeth Pantley is the author of "The No Cry Sleep Solution," "The No Cry Nap Solution," and many other No Cry books.  I was seduced by her middle of the road approach.  She outlines that there seem to be two extreme philosophies when it comes to infants and sleep.  Either let them cry it out, or learn to live with it.  Pantley proposes a middle ground - gently get them to sleep without crying.  There are a variety of different "solutions" intended to address all different situations - i.e. bottlefeeding, breastfeeding, crib sleeping, and co-sleeping.  Different "problems" are specifically addressed as well - the cat napper, the motion sleeper, the in-arms sleeper, the night time you see where I'm going with this?  Before reading this book, I didn't know I had any problems, and I didn't know Cecelia had any sleep problems either.  I figured if she was tired, she'd sleep.  And I was ok with night waking, I figured it was all a part of this baby deal.  When people asked how she was sleeping, I replied that I was happy with her sleeping, because I was.  But now...oh the worry.  I worry that she's not getting enough sleep, not for me, but for her; and not just at night, but during the day.  Pantley's book outlines a chart with averages for daytime and night time sleep, including the range of the amount of time she can be comfortably awake, citing homeostatic pressure.  It outlines the average number of naps and how long those naps will be at each age milestone.  Cecelia never really settled into a routine.  I blame myself.  Because, what else is a mother to do.  Before, I thought that if Cecelia slept long stretches during the day, she wouldn't sleep long stretches at night, so... I woke her up if I thought she had slept "too long."  When she did naturally wake up, I kept her up to play.  Little did I know, I was messing with her routine setting.  So, now I know she should be taking 2-3 naps a day of 1 1/2 - 2 hour stretches.  She doesn't do well with this.  Using the strategies in the No Cry Nap Solution, we've moved from sleeping in-arms/in-sling to sleeping in the swing or the car seat and I've been able to intervene to try to keep her sleeping for longer stretches.  Soon, the goal is to move her to actually napping in...her crib.  Now, the flip side to all of this "progress" is interesting.  Before, I heard people talk about their baby's nap schedule and it seemed to bind them.  In other words, they couldn't leave the house until the baby woke up.  I felt fortunate that Cecelia would sleep in her sling, that she would sleep on the go.  That I could go places and she'd sleep when she needed to.  Now that she's grown accustomed to her nap routine, it's increasingly difficult for her to nap out and about, i.e. in the stroller, or the sling.  And so, I'm bound.  Or I should be.

And on to night time sleep.  According to Pantley's solutions, an earlier bed time and a consistent routine are the key to night time success.  I tried a bed time routine early on and it didn't seem to work, so I abandoned it.  So, consistency wasn't exactly happening.  The fault there was that bedtime was an arbitrary time that I chose, not one based on a natural bedtime for an infant.  Only recently, Cecelia's begun to let us know when she's tired with clear cues.  Before she'd get fussy and we'd have to rule out other things.  Is she tired, is she wet, is she gassy?  Then I guess she might be tired.  That never seemed to be the obvious choice before.  Now, looking back, all those times when I'd try to feed her (you know, because I thought she MUST be hungry) and she'd get mad at me, she was probably...tired.  Since she grew accustomed to motion to help her get to sleep, she needed motion to get her to sleep, or she'd fuss until she got some.  And she would.  Because we would.  Which I do not regret in any way.  So, the swing discovery was key.  Before Cecelia rejected her swing.  Now, I turn it on before she falls asleep, so she can hear it.  You see - it's a loud swing and turning it on once she was falling and/or had fallen asleep would immediately wake her back up again.  But, if the swing was already on, it just became background noise, another sound that helps her get to sleep, along with the sound of lullabye music, the dimmed lighting, and a bed time story that I could read every night for the rest of my life: "Guess How Much I Love You?", all following a bath, fresh diaper, and lotion massage.  These are all pieces of a bed time routine that I can live with.  Again, the goal is to get her to not need motion to get to sleep, and we'll get there.  I imagine she won't be a 17 year old sleeping in a swing, right?  And, as for the rest of the night time, she still wakes to eat and falls asleep just fine in a co-sleeping arrangement and we're happy with that.  Each night when she falls asleep for her first stretch, I think to myself...maybe tonight's the night.  You know - THE night.  Big mistake.  Set the bar low.  Before, my expectation wasn't for long stretches of sleep.  They were nice, but not the expectation.  So, when it happens, it happens.  Until then, we'll work on moving there one step at a time.

So, Elizabeth Pantley's books have been extremely helpful.  At first though, I felt like this was an all or nothing prospect.  That was after reading the sleep solution book.  After reading the nap solution book, I felt more confident in using the pieces that work for us and leaving the rest.  I'm still worried that she's not getting enough sleep.  For every nap that's not equivalent to at least one sleep cycle, I'm convinced that the rest of the day is ruined.  So, I need to relax.  And enjoy this time with my baby (when she's awake and asleep) before she gets one day older.

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