One of the most common questions we receive at Cheekychops is about our stance on crying or Crying It Out. Many parents have read The No-Cry Sleep Solution (or various attachment parenting books or websites), and have a deep fear of hearing their baby cry. We wanted to address some of these fears and give our take on The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.
The no-cry solution won’t stop the tears
Although the title seems to imply that Pantley offers a tear-free solution to sleep training, the reality is that if such a perfect solution existed, none of us would have problems to begin with. What this title actually means is that the book offers ideas that don’t involve the Cry It Out (CIO) method toted by Dr. Richard Ferber (also known as the Ferber Method or the extinction method).
The book suggests there are only three ways to teach sleep: 1) the Ferber Method; 2) catering to your child’s every whim in any way possible; and 3) this unicorn of a third way: the no-cry way. There is a reason the title of this book sells itself.
Now, Pantley is a mum of four and very experienced in parenting. Her book does offer ideas that, for some children, will work with minimal tears. Many of the ideas reinforce sleep props (soothers, breastfeeding to sleep), which is confusing for a baby when they shift sleep cycles and look for that prop again. The book suggests that if the methods don’t work, go back to whatever worked before. Which, for most parents, wasn’t working (hence buying the book).
The No-Cry Sleep Solution is written from an attachment parenting perspective, where children are held as much as possible. While many great things are to be said for this, the labels on parenting make it seem like in order to be a hands-on parent (or follow other aspects of attachment parenting) you must let your child wake you at all hours of the night.
At Cheekychops, we believe parenting doesn’t need labels and we all find our own paths. We believe children can be taught to sleep and that these life skills will help our children to better grow and thrive and learn, while enabling us to be better parents as well. We don’t follow one single method of sleep training (to be honest, we don’t even like the term), but work with a variety of methods (yep, there are more than three!) and modifications specifically tailored to each family, with ongoing support to ensure success.
A different angle on crying
Crying means different things to different people. When babies cry, it is natural for us to want to swoop in to make them stop. We feel the need to help them! But, if we try thinking about crying as a language, one just as nuanced as the spoken word, it can help us shift our feelings around crying.
We see our baby fuss as she tries to lift her head. To crawl. To communicate that her diaper is wet. There are many different nuances to a cry. A cry doesn’t have to be bad. It’s normal for a baby to be frustrated at learning a new skill, whether that’s sleep or rolling over. Allowing some space for that baby to communicate her feelings doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Most parents believe that crying during sleep learning means using the Cry It Out method of putting your baby down, leaving the room and not going back. Understandably, parents worry that this method will leave their child with a sense of abandonment. No one wants to be left to cry alone.
At Cheekychops, we take abandonment worries out of the equation. You do not have to leave your baby to cry alone. However, it is unrealistic to expect that you can change a baby's sleep behaviour without any crying. The amount of crying will come down to your baby's temperament and the type of sleep association(s) your baby has. But we can work with you to make the transition as quick and smooth as possible.