“In order for the baby to grow up secure, you must be available at all times, so she doesn’t cry.”
“If you always pick her up, you will spoil her and she will never be independent!”
“If the baby sleeps in a crib away from you, she'll feel abandoned and this'll affect her emotional development. ”
“Bottle-feeding is a way to separate moms from their babies, and you can get postpartum depression from being separated.”
“Letting a baby cry is ok, even if she vomits.”
Wow, how do these statements make you feel? Confused? This is actual real-life advice given to new mothers! Sounds overwhelming to new parents, huh, being in charge of your baby's overall emotional health? What if you are not sleeping and you're feeling tired? Did you know lack of sleep profoundly affects depression?
Elizabeth Pantley’s "No-Cry Sleep Solution” is a middle ground between the polarized cry-it-out crowd and the attachment parenting (AP) crowd. Mrs. Pantley's methods give room to the needs of both mother and baby balancing the stress of all night, no-sleep parenting and the stress of cry-a-thons.
Balancing Parents’ Needs and Baby's Needs
On one hand, Mr. & Mrs. Pantley say they believe the experts who support
cry-it-out (CIO) sleep methods are ignoring the emotional needs of babies. They are advocates of sensitive parenting. The Pantleys compare the CIO method to ignoring, day after day, a child’s request to play ball, or missing a child’s musicals at school. Sure, the child gets used to it, but the need for sensitive and responsive parenting has been brushed off at an early age, and this pattern of insensitivity is a pattern of parenting to which the Pantleys do not subscribe.
On the other hand, Mrs. Pantley, the mother of four children, says she couldn't
not continue with the emotional and physical fatigue of all-night (and day) attachment parenting. Mrs. Pantley found with her own four children, that all children are different: some children easily sleep through the night and others did not, due to differences in emotional temperament.
So, she developed a way to sensitively manage night-time infant parenting while at the same time, honoring her own physical and emotional needs.
Her fist step is to realistically assess your lifestyle (breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, sleep-sharing, not sleep-sharing) and your current night-time patterns. She provides forms to help you with this assessment.
She asks the mom to consider her own emotional readiness for changing their sleep patterns. In other words, examine your own feelings about separating from your baby at night and see how you really feel about that. This is part of your assessment.
With the information from your initial lifestyle assessment, begin to make some changes that feel right for you and your family. In general, her gentle techniques she advocates are understanding why your baby is waking, introducing new routines and associations for sleep and then gradually change the patterns. Mrs. Pantley also advocates for a nap schedule and early bedtimes to increase sleep and avoid a sleep
She looks at the duality of the situation: our modern hectic life-style and lack of social support drives our need to teach a baby to sleep and, of course, sleep is necessary for a mother to function.
A Few Elizabeth Pantley Guidelines
Don’t allow the baby to fall asleep at the breast every single time, instead allow her to nurse to sleepiness, then put her down to fall asleep, so she will have other associations for sleep besides nursing
Incorporate the Pantley Gentle Removal Plan into your nursing practice. Know that babies have a need to suck, allow baby to fall asleep at the breast, pacifier, or bottle, then slowly detach the baby and gently hold her lips closed or press her chin. Repeat patiently until the baby’s sleep behavior slowly changes
If baby is used to falling completely asleep on you, slowly shift that routine to letting the baby almost fall asleep on you, and then move her to her sleep area to completely fall asleep. This would need to be
done multiple times.
If bedtime is too late, modify to an earlier bedtime in increments of 15 minutes every evening.
Watch for signs of sleepiness and create a nap schedule around this
To lengthen her nap, when baby awakes, use the sleep cues to help her
fall back asleep, such as nursing, pacifier, bottle. This should
help lengthen the nap after about a week.
If you're fine with your parenting and all are feeling their needs are being met to a reasonable degree, feel good about what you're doing!
But, if you're feeling exhausted and have signs of depression, perhaps rethinking your night-time parenting philosophy and thinking about what's drives your feelings will help you. Mrs. Pantley's methods are gentle and caring and can help you adjust your lifestyle to a more manageable balance between baby’s needs and mom’s needs.
If you're feeling very depressed, it might be hard focusing on your feelings and going through a written lifestyle assessment. But this process could be done with help from a friend, relative, a postpartum doula, your partner, your pediatrician, or a therapist. In addition, if you are feeling way overtired or depressed, you can ask for help working through an adjustment period that requires behavioral changes. For a more detailed review of the method, read here.