Book Review: The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

Many new parents are bothered by their newborn babies’ frequent night awakenings to nurse or crankiness at night. The lack of sleep adversely affects these parents, especially those who are working.

Recently, one parent asked in a forum whether it is appropriate to add baby cereal to his newborn’s milk feed to help him sleep longer at night. Another asked whether she should try the Cry-It-Out method on her baby.

It is time to share this long overdue review on The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, which I read shortly after The No-Cry Nap Solution.

Sleeping Problems We Faced at Night

  • At four months old, Vee suddenly started waking up about every 1 to 2 hours at night. Previously, he woke up for night feeds at about 3.5 hours apart. We ruled out growth spurt as this lasted more than a week and suspected discomforts from teething and minor gastrointestinal reflux.
  • Vee started waking up to cry within 30 to 45 minutes after falling asleep at night. Previously, he would sleep for a few hours until his next feed. When I carried him upright, he felt more comfortable.
  • It took 1 hour or more to feed, burp and settle Vee back to sleep in his cot at night. He kept fussing and sometimes I had to try up to FIVE times to get him to sleep soundly in his cot. Before I could sleep for long, he was up for the next feed.
  • There were times when Vee was asleep after a night feed but I could not get back to sleep because I was stretching out my hand into the cot to rest it on his chest. Sometimes, I was so sure he would awake anytime to fuss that I unintentionally kept myself awake.

I was utterly convinced that Vee was a high-needs baby and a super-light-sleeper who woke up at the end of EVERY sleep cycle. My night-time sleep was extremely disrupted, and I felt tired and miserable. Fortunately, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I could take naps with Vee. (The nap problems were solved more easily.)

How The Book Saved Our Sleep

The No-Cry Sleep Solution explains why caregivers should not allow baby to ‘cry it out’ and offers a suite of gentle solutions to help baby sleep through the night. Some of the areas that I found most useful in our circumstances:

  • How to co-sleep in a safe manner. Safe co-sleeping allowed me to continue nursing Vee on demand, with both of us falling back to sleep easily. In short, WE FINALLY GAVE UP USING THE COT.
  • Ways to create a bedtime routine and condusive sleeping environment. Many sleeping aids that we tried were ideas from the book.
  • How to gently wean him off from bouncing or sucking to sleep. The high-needs baby still needs either kind of help to fall asleep, but there were a few occasions when I could go through the bedtime routine and pat him gently to sleep. He’s progressing, albeit at a slow rate.
  • Observing him during his brief awakenings at night and giving him opportunities to learn falling back to sleep by himself. If he seriously needs help, then I would carry or nurse him. Recently, on several occasions, he managed to shift his sleeping position and continued sleeping (erm… on my tummy / chest / pillow) while I pretended to sleep. Another major improvement!

Although I have implemented only some of Pantley’s ideas, Vee has been progressing. Even though he is not sleeping through the night yet (i.e. 5 hours straight), we are getting sufficient rest at night, he hardly cries at night, and he is sleeping for stretches of up to 4 hours. My new ‘problem’: there are times when I wake up in the middle of the night while he is sleeping soundly! I am absolutely pleased with the results.

What I like about the book:

  • Clarifies common misconceptions about baby’s sleep and related problems
  • Offers a suite of gentle solutions to help baby sleep through the night
  • Solutions produce visible results; timing of success depends on caregivers’ consistency and baby’s adaptability

As this is the first book in the ‘No-Cry’ series, there are less ideas in some areas than the newer books. If you have an older child, you may consider reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers*.

Has your baby slept through the night? Or are you struggling through sleepless nights? Do share your experiences and tips on helping your baby sleep better.

Get Your Own

Pantley’s books are available in most major bookstores such as MPH, Borders, Times and Popular Bookstores. They are hot among parents and often out of stock.

You may also check the price at here: The No-Cry Sleep Solution*

*: affiliate link to support the growth and maintenance of Mummy’s Reviewsβ„’

34 thoughts on “Book Review: The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley”

  1. my baby is 7 mths old and he still does NOT sleep through the night. He will wake up every 2 hrs or so. Though sometimes for feeds, not always. He cries for comfort.

    I am also waiting for the day he sleeps for 6 hrs straight.

    1. Hi shu-yin, your baby is like many others; my boy is still not sleeping through yet at 11 months old. The book assured me that there are ways to help my child achieve that milestone faster than letting nature take its course. Some babies simply don’t naturally sleep through by 6 months old; they need help weaning off their dependence, otherwise it could be years before they start sleeping through. I am glad that there are gentle ways to do so.

      May your baby sleep through soon. All the best! πŸ™‚

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  4. My cousin once asked me (this was with my first-born) – does your baby sleep through the night?

    I said, “Yes.” After a moment’s hesitation, I added, “He wakes up to nurse though.”

    To which my cousin replied, “I like your perspective.” She was referring to the fact that I considered my son to be sleeping through the night despite the fact that he woke up to nurse at night. I guess because he breastfeeds and I could automatically nurse him at night without really “waking” up, it was pretty much like sleeping through the night. Some nights, I wouldn’t remember waking up but I knew I did because I would wake later with him back on the breast without me remembering how he got there.

    We had some good nights though where he really did sleep through the night. My younger boy, too (he’s two and half months now). I think because they were/are both big babies and could/can hold more milk in their tummies, they didn’t need to wake so frequently to feed.

    1. The reason why we co-sleep is so that I could sleep and nurse at the same time. My boy is a big baby too, yet he wakes up frequently to nurse (really gulping down milk); we concluded it’s a combination of huge appetite and the need to drink for comfort. Despite having 4 milk feeds, 3 meals and 1 snack in the day, he’s like on a milk buffet on most nights!

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  11. my baby boy is 8 months old and wakes up about every hour (not really waking up, ie opening his eyes, but crying) if i rush to him to nurse him immediately he falls straight back to sleep. but this happens every hour all through the night! he co-sleeps, but still i feel like im not doing anything to help him sleeping longer stretches.. result of his many night feedings is that he needs a nappy change in the middle of the night which sometimes wakes him up. all together he sleeps about 8 hours at night and 2 naps of max 1 hour a day… he falls asleep nursing only. if not, he just rolls over, stands up and takes little steps in the bed until he’s exhausted, i tried this but it took 3 hours of ‘playing’ in the bed and me ending up nursing him anyway to fall asleep. Should I stop feeding him at night? I know he’ll wake up all the way then and I’d spend an hour rocking him to sleep..don’t know what to do, what’s best for him?

    1. Hi lisa, my boy also fussed every 1 to 1.5 hours for many months and it was super-challenging for us. He does not nurse to sleep (was bounced instead) but when he fusses in the middle of the night, nursing him back to sleep was easiest for all of us.

      My boy is a very heavywetter because of the night feedings too and using double-stuffed cloth diapers could last him through 12 hours. (Changing is almost sure to wake him up too, so we eliminated night-time changes since he was very young.) Our night-time diapering solution is shared here.

      If your boy falls asleep by nursing only, then you’d need to try many of Pantley’s ideas to help him learn sleeping longer stretches without nursing. I did not stop feeding my boy at night. After every feed, I try to unlatch him using Pantley’s method. Sometimes I had to unlatch him, put him over my shoulder, bounce a little, then put him down to bed and let him continue sleeping.

      He really improved when we started day-weaning at 14 months old. Gradually, he relied less on the breasts for comfort. He slept through his naps without fussing to suck. then he slept through longer hours at night. Finally, at 18 months old, he slept through the night.

      8 + two 1-hour naps sound little for an 8-month old. I think night-time sleep should be at least 10 hours with 2 good naps. Is your boy usually in a good mood during the day or easily cranky from insufficient rest? If he’s easily cranky, then you’d need to work hard to help him sleep better.

      Some things to start off:
      – relaxed evening: reduced activities, avoid loud noises and bright lights. I only allow quiet play after dinner, so that he could tune down easier for bedtime.
      – bedtime routine: bring feeding to earlier part of routine. Ours is feed, change, dim lights, white noise (rainfall sound), story, songs, goodnight kiss, lights out (with small night-light). If baby insists on nursing to sleep, then let him suckle again before sleeping.
      – early bedtime: we shifted bedtime to 8-9p.m. in the early months and he was less fussy.
      – similar bedtime routine for naps
      – help baby take longer naps: I aim for at least 1.5 hours, as per Pantley’s suggestion. When baby wakes up after 1 sleep cycle, I nurse or rock him back to sleep for another cycle. After that, he is much more well-rested. Apparently, a well-napped baby sleeps better at night.

      Try to borrow or buy a copy of the book to try out the various ideas. The initial chapter on sleep cycles also gives a good understanding of your baby’s sleeping patterns. For us, it was well worth the money spent.

      All the very best to you! Keep in touch! πŸ™‚

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  13. My 5 mth old baby wakes up crying but still asleep after half an hr of nap each time. Don’t think she is hungry as she had a bottle just before nap. Can we use a pacifier to lengthen her nap as she will just wake up if we don’t carry her up to Rock etc. thanks.

    1. Could it be she needs to burp? If Baby Jae (also 5 months) doesn’t finish burping after a feed and sleeps, he frequently fusses after 1 sleep cycle (~30 minutes). Once he fusses, I’d carry him upright over my shoulder, press his tummy near mine, and bounce gently up/down. He’d burp easily, and continue sleeping. Then put him down again.

      If possible, I try not to use a pacifier because a child who depends on sucking to sleep well may need it during every sleep cycle transition. So the caregiver may have to pop the pacifier into her mouth many times a night, until she can find her pacifier to sooth herself if she drops it. Anyway, if she hasn’t been using the pacifier, it’s unlikely she’d accept it at 5 months old. E.g. In the early months, I offered baby Jae a pacifier during long car rides if he fussed. For 1-2 months, we didn’t need to use it. Recently, for a long car ride, I offered again but he didn’t suck on it.

      The key to carrying and rocking is to try to put down before the child is in deep sleep, if possible. These are the options:
      – put down upon deep sleep (baby’s limbs all soft)
      – put down upon light sleep (still not all soft)
      – put down upon drowsy
      – put down when still awake (this is the ultimate goal, which every baby achieves at different age)

      In my opinion, it’s ok to assist the baby to help her sleep longer. I’d give the minimal assistance that she needs. Then gradually reduce it as she grows. E.g. I’d try to put her down when drowsy. If really can’t, then put down in light sleep. If really can’t, then put down in deep sleep.

      Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

      1. Thank u for the prompt reply. Indeed, we sometimes do
        Not burp her seeing that she has fallen asleep . Regarding the pacifier, we actually stopped giving it to her a week ago n so is wOndering now if she is suffering from “withdrawal
        Syndrome” which is causing her to wake up. Under pressure from my mum
        Who is the primary caretaker to give it to her to lengthen her sleep
        Time.. But thought we should find out the root cause 4 her crying.. Will try the burping .. Thanks so much .. Btw, am a member of ur club..great resources πŸ™‚

  14. My baby is turning 12 weeks next wed. It is very difficult to put her to sleep during bedtime. I read the ‘no cry’ book.

    I will put her down on bed when she is drowsy or light sleep and pat her to sleep. After 5-10 mins or Half an Hr, she wil wake up. I rock her again and again and all these can last for 2-2.5 hrs.

    Her bedtime is abt 6.30 to 7 pm. And she has a full feed before I rock her to sleep. It is really stressful.

    She took so long to fall asleep that she is overtired and cried badly before she finally sleeps at abt 9-9.30 pm. Then she can sleep for a straight 4-4.5 hrs before she wakes up for the next feed.

    For the next feeds, I wil latch lying down as we co-sleep.

    And she is sleeping on her chest she wil get startled sleeping on her back. So after bf, I let her sleep on her side and many timed she spit out and end up both of us awake. There are also a fewer times she spit out sleeping in her chest.

    After the feed, subseq feeds wil be abt 2-2.5 hrs.

    So now I let her sleep in her crib. And I will sit up and latch her. Thereafter hold her upright for 10 mins b4 I put her down to sleep. It is tiring compared to me lying down and latch. And I wil also fall asleep if I latch lying down and I want to prevent her latching to sleep so I prefer to sit up and latch.

    It has been also a month of such terrible bedtime. When wil this end?!

    Morning and evening naps are abt an Hr and at times she wil wake up. But mid noon nap she can sleep very well – a straight 2-3 hrs.

    Wondering what’s the problem. Now I am thinking whether to look for a sleep trainer. But not sure if it helps…

    1. Hi Casey, I feel you! Baby Jae hasn’t been sleeping well for a few nights too and it’s usually due to gas in the tummy that hasn’t been burped out. This sounds similar to what you mentioned.

      Your baby can sleep 2-3 hours straight for mid-noon nap, which is FANTASTIC! Most likely, she doesn’t have a sleeping issue. Fussy high needs baby (with regard to sleep) like Vee can’t even sleep well in the day, will need lots of assistance for every sleep cycle.

      When breastfeeding especially at night, it’s better to have a night light beside so that you can see baby’s latch clearly and make sure she latches well, to minimise gas. Then after feeding 1 side, must burp well. Then latch onto the other side, feed, then burp again.

      – Sometimes, when I feed in the car in the evening or lying down at home, I latch on badly, or forget to burp well (fall asleep with baby), and Baby Jae gets bothered by gas. He can then fuss for up to 2 hours without sleeping well.

      – Whenever he’s burped well, he sleeps much longer by himself.

      – When sitting up to latch, have a good back support. E.g. lie against a pillow, or sit on a comfortable chair with good back support. I know it’s tiring, especially the middle of the night feeds. Yet, have to latch on well (if baby is sensitive to not burping well) else baby can fuss very long at night. (In contrast, Vee was ok with me latching him on sleeping, through the night.)

      – I also read that reflux tends to peak when baby is 4-7 months old, that’s why baby regurgitates some milk. As long as it’s just a small amount, it’s ok. Just ensure baby is burped well and slightly inclined or upright for about 15 minutes after a feed. Letting her sleep on her left side may also help digestion.

      – Also, try to go to bed early, so that you can have more rest to handle the night. When Vee was a baby, he was so fussy and had to cling on to me for every sleep (and through the night). So we’d lights out by about 8+, and I’d be stuck on the bed doing some light reading with iPod Touch or chit chat with hubby, then sleep by 10-11p.m. Until he outgrew his fussiness.

      This is the most effective burping method (after experimenting with both my gassy boys):
      – hold him close to me and I bounce up/down. If no burp, will sit him down and rub his tummy in circles, then hold him to me & bounce again.
      – Also can lay him tummy down, rub him back with palms (perpendicular direction to spine) upwards / downwards along spine. Then carry and try burping again.
      – Else, after baby rests for 30-60 minutes, will fuss, just carry up and hold close again + bounce up/down, should be able to burp.

      Try the above and see if it works. Feel free to drop me another note when you need help again. Cheer up, you’re already doing wonderfully. All the very best! πŸ™‚

  15. Thanks for the advice!
    In the nite I only latch one side for about 5-10 mins as after feeding on one she fell asleep. After this feed, it can last 2-3 hrs before the next feed. Should I make her drink more and on both sides?

    I also ordered the love swaddling up swaddle. Hopefully she can fall asleep faster and sleep better on her back when swaddled up. I didnt know baby should be swaddled though they are already 1 month old! Silly me! Hopefully she does not resist being swaddled up again.

    I also tried playingwhite noise cd. Should I on it loud? I also have 2 boys – going to 4 yr old and 2 yr old. So it is really challenging for us. Less time is spent with the boys when 1 parent has to be with the baby for so long to make her sleep! Hope this phase will pass soon!

    Oh ya, should I wake my baby up in the morning so her naps and bedtime are consistent everyday?

    Am glad to chance upon your website! I have yet to train my elder boy to go diaper free for bedtime. Will do so when baby is doing better. Taking one step at a time. And I am going back to work in 2 weeks time and my Mother in law will be taking care of the baby in the day. So hopefully things turn out better.

    1. Wow, you’ve 3 kids! Bravo! πŸ™‚

      Depends on whether she usually drinks from 1 or both sides in the day. Baby Jae has been drinking from both sides since a newborn, so for night feeds, I’d feed him from 1 side, burp, then feed from the other, then burp.

      If he doesn’t burp after 1 side, and I feel that there’s gas in him, I won’t feed the other, will let him lie down. Usually, after 1 sleep cycle, he’d fuss, so I’d burp him then feed from the other. Reason is that if I feed both with no burping in between, the gas would be trapped and he’d fuss for many hours. That’s why it depends on your understanding of your baby.

      I agree that it’s safer to sleep on the back and Baby Jae has done that with the Love to Swaddle UP. After he started rolling by himself, he would always roll to sleep on his tummy by himself, and weaned himself off the swaddle. After the nurse confirmed that his neck muscles are very strong and I observe that he can sleep safely, I just let him be.

      For white noise, no need too loud. Just soothing enough, and to cover sudden household noises in the evening. For very light sleeper, may need white noise until older. Baby Jae is a deep sleeper, so I switched off the white noise when the rest of us go to bed. After a few months old, he didn’t need the white noise anymore. The No Cry book addresses how to wean off from white noise later on, by decreasing the volume day by day gradually.

      Waking up at about the same time each day, including for naps, helps to reset the bio-clock. So I try to maintain a consistent waking up time for the kids. Even adults benefit from this too. If the child oversleeps, I’d draw the curtains up, turn on some soft music or start singing or talking in my normal voice.

      This stage will indeed pass soon. Your oldest is already 4 years old, so you’d know how fast kids grow up. All the best when you return to work. Keep in touch! πŸ™‚

  16. I tried your way of burping baby. It works most of the time thanks!
    Time indeed past fast. My baby is 12 weeks old! Growth spurts time!
    These few days the duration of her fussing is getting shorter. Keep my fingers crossed! Will update u on our baby πŸ˜‰

  17. Hi! My baby has stopped fussing at bedtime for the past days! She wears the love to swaddle up swaddle for bedtime and she could sleep on her back. I also on the white noise cd during bedtime to mask out the noise from the boys. However, once every nite she wil cry out loud as she can’t flip herself over to sleep on her tummy cos her legs are ‘tied up’ haha. I Juz give her a few pats or rock a bit she is back to sleep πŸ™‚ she stil wakes up for nite feed. But I’m fine with it… So long she goes back to sleep. But sometimes she din burp so I wil carry her upright a while before I put her on bed. By then I am awake haha.
    Thanks for all the advice!!

  18. I just ordered this book, waiting for it to arrive as A is only willing to sleep in the baby carrier now in the day and nurse to sleep at night. Fingers cross that this will help me.. πŸ™‚

    1. Good luck! There’re many suggestions in the book. Because the methods are very gentle, you may see improvement only after some time or even no obvious improvement until the child is ready. If you like gentle methods, then this seems about the only book around.

    1. No-Cry Sleep: the original book, mainly tackling night-time sleep.

      No-Cry Nap: follow-up book, with some additional ideas. Tackling nap, as title suggests.
      Nap-time can be more challenging for some babies, need more closeness / assistance, etc, that’s why a separate book makes sense.

      For Vee, we’d sleep problems for all times, so I read both books. Ha…

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  20. Hi,

    I stumbled upon your website when I was searching for the Mom and Baby Expo 2013 info. I signed up for your newsletter and the tips and information on your website couldn’t have come in a better timing.

    I’m going through a very difficult period right now with my 8 week old son. He used to be a good napper taking 2hr naps throughout the day and he would wake every 2hrs to feed. Feeding isn’t a problem and if I had forgotten to burp him, he would just fuss a little, burp by himself and settle back to sleep. He sleeps on his tummy as he is easily startled when he lies on his back.

    This all changed when he turned 4 weeks. He refused to nap and would wake the minute I put him down. He wants to be carried all the time and I ended up using a pacifier which I am feeling so guilty deep down for introducing it to him.

    I never believed in swaddling but after reading your blog, I’ve decided to give it a try. I wasn’t hoping for much but I must say that it worked wonderfully! For the first time this week, he took his nap without much fuss. I fed him, popped in the pacifier for a while and after some gentle rocking, he fell asleep. I am typing this as he naps and its been about 1.5hrs already since he slept.

    I am excited to try this for the subsequent naps and tonight when I put him to bed πŸ™‚

    I am going to order Pentley’s book as well πŸ™‚

    I have a concern though. Did your son tend to overfeed and then regurgitated it out and then get annoyed with himself? It seems like mine seems to “enjoy” this horrid practice! He only started this 3 weeks ago.

    I didn’t have this problem with my eldest whom I had exclusively breastfed until she was 4.5yo. Its just that my son seems like a little glutton when it comes to chomping down at the breast.

    Thanks in advance πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Maureen, congratulations on your new baby! πŸ™‚ Great that you figured out how to help him sleep better. It’s interesting how each baby has their own sleeping preferences. No worries about the pacifier if it helps him calm down, and as long as he’s latching on well usually.

      The only potential “problem” of pacifier is some babies drop it and then fuss for it during every sleep cycle change. Similar to suckling for comfort during sleep. To prevent this, try removing the pacifier after baby is calm and drifting off to sleep. Pantley’s books will give more ideas.

      Vee breastfed a lot and did have some reflux from 4 to 7 months (I think). A bit of regurgitation should be fine, as long as he’s not throwing up entire feeds regularly. I tried to burp him well and let him sleep at an angle (at least 30-deg) under supervision in the day, for instance in the rocker or in a sling.

      All the best to you! πŸ™‚

      1. Yeah! I read about the sleep cycle lasting 40mins-60mins and mine is surely a 40mins one! I timed him! hahaha…I tried the Pantley dance and also interference before the next sleep cycle. I still have to practice the dance…or maybe I’m not dancing good enough! ;p but the interference before the next sleep cycle does work! The catch is, I would have to be beside hi about 10-15mins before he stirs and then pat him back to sleep. Once I missed the “window” and he was wide awake from 2.45pm until his bedtime at 6pm. By the time I drove out to pick my eldest from the nanny’s place at 5pm, he was a total wreck! Fussing, crying and fidgeting and in my mind, I was pulling out my hair and crying out loud! haha…

        Since I last posted, I’ve tried to get him to nap without the pacifier and it seems to be working. I pulled out the minute he sleeps although his mouth will still be moving a little.

        I’ll give the 30 Degree angle cot mattress a try this afternoon and see if there is any improvement.

        Thanks MieVee! πŸ™‚

      2. Haha… Vee’s was 40 minutes too! There was a period he cried from 2-5 or 6a.m. every night, so hubby and I took hourly shifts to pacify him. Then he’d feed and zonk out on the breastfeeding pillow from 6-9a.m. Of course, I zonked out while sitting upright too. Those were the days! And now, he’s 4+ years old. Ha… All the best! πŸ™‚

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