There are a handful of authors in the world who truly astound me for their ability to completely transform my life through a book. Elizabeth Pantley, world renowned parenting expert, is one of those authors. And The No Cry Nap Solution is one of those books.
If you are a parent of small children, like myself, you will know that:
a good nap = a good day
a bad nap = a bad day
But getting those good naps can be an elusive, how-do-I-do-it?, FRUSTRATING experience.
A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH
Well, along came Elizabeth Pantley. And she has a gift. Her gift is the ability to conduct sound, thorough research and present it in a format that is easy to read, inspiring and truly transforming.
Most parents do not have the time, desire or motivation to pour through all the literature and scientific studies that have been conducted on naps, deduce theories from it, and then set it to trial to revise and refine with a group of 209 Test Parents. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Elizabeth Pantley did it for us.
When I was conducting my own qualitative research for my master’s thesis, I wanted to do research with a group of 20 people and was advised that it was an unmanageable number – 5 or 6 would be better (I settled at 14). So the fact that Elizabeth Pantley conducted a qualitative research study with 209 people is in and of itself amazing.
NAPS ARE CRUCIAL
Elizabeth Pantley very clearly illustrates not only the benefits, but the crucial nature of naps. Based on age, a child may require 0-4 naps. This sleep has various stages, each with its own benefit, such as:
- releasing stress and stabilizing moods
- releasing the growth hormone
- repairing and healing the body and strengthening the immune system
- regulating the appetite
- ensuring proper brain connections and development, including memory and new learning
- improving motor, visual and perceptual skills
THE VOLCANO EFFECT
On top of this, we are all (adults included) subject to something called homeostatic sleep pressure or what she terms “The Volcano Effect.” Based on our age, we can only be awake for a given amount of time before we literally explode – and we all know what that means – temper tantrums, melt downs, screaming and crying.
By keeping an eye on the clock as well as an eye on our child’s sleepy signs, we can greatly reduce The Volcano Effect. One of the great things I learned from this book was that if I put my children down for a nap when they are sleepy, and not overtired, then they fall asleep quickly and easily.
In fact, I was surprised to learn that presleep, where the child is relaxed and tired, is actually the first stage in sleep, whose purpose is to prepare the body for sleep. But if ignored it will lead to a second wind and eventually an increase in feeling overtired.
A CHILD NEEDS TO FALL ASLEEP ON THEIR OWN
The thing I love about Elizabeth Pantley is her gentle, caring approach to parenting and that everything stems from a place of deep consideration for the child and the parent. She offers a plethora of suggestions on how to get your child to nap, but she always leaves a back door open to keep things the way they are if what we’re doing already is working for us, we’re feeling stressed or the child is sick, teething, learning a new skill or any other number of things that can disturb sleep.
But, if you do want your children to take good naps, more than just the 40 minute “One-Cycle Sleep Syndrome” (a baby’s sleep cycle lasts 40-60 minutes), then this book is for you.
By far, the most important thing that I have learned from reading the No Cry Nap Solution (and its parent book, The No Cry Sleep Solution which focuses more on night time sleep), is the importance of teaching a child to fall asleep on their own.
There is a brief awakening at the end of each sleep cycle. In order for a child to make it from one sleep cycle to the next, unaided by the parent, the child has to fall asleep on their own. If the child fell asleep breastfeeding (or being rocked, bounced, held or bottlefed) then they will awaken, become disturbed that things are not as they were when they fell asleep, and want to breastfeed again. If, however, they fell asleep on their own, then they will briefly awaken, see that everything is still the same and go right back to sleep.
She uses the analogy of us falling asleep in our warm, cozy bed and then waking up on the hard, cold kitchen floor. Of course we wouldn’t go back to sleep! We’d be alarmed and distressed.
NOW, HOW DO I GET MY CHILD TO NAP?
Well, this is why you need to buy the book. She literally has a solution for probably every single nap challenge, such as:
- Catnaps: Making short naps longer
- The nap resister: When your child needs a nap but won’t take one
- Shifting schedules: Changing from two naps to one nap
- Shifting schedules: Time to give up naps?
- Changing from in-arms sleep to in-bed sleep
- Naptime nursling: Falling asleep without the breast, bottle or pacifier
- Swinging, bouncing, vibrating or gliding: Making the transition from motion sleep to stationary sleep
- Helping your newborn tummy sleeper go “Back to sleep”
- How to use swaddling for naptime
- Changing car naps to bed naps
- Colic care: Helping your baby get comfort and relief from naps
- Could it be a sleep disorder? When to call a doctor
Just when you think you have the naps all figured out, they get a little older and everything changes. The No Cry Nap Solution is a book that I will definitely keep going back to, for each new naptime stage.
YOUR CHILD WON’T CRY, BUT YOU MIGHT
All of the approaches in this book are gentle and respectful of the child. They are not quick fix solutions, but require a tremendous amount of consistency and self-discipline on the part of the parent. And lets face it, it’s hard.
Changing a habit is slow. It takes time and patience. But it’s so well worth it in the end, particularly when you think about the stress and anxiety that too much crying can cause on the child AND the parent.