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Baby Sleep Training: The Elizabeth Pantley Method

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Updated on Jul 19, 2012

The Pantley method, also called the No-Cry Sleep Solution, is one of the most gentle approaches to sleep training. While it's overall effectiveness might be challenged by those who prefer a faster method, it could be the ideal solution for you and your little night owl.

If you're scrabbling for some shuteye, consider this: A study published in a 2010 issue of Sleep Medicine Reviews found that poor infant sleep might translate into family stress and even maternal depression. The Pantley method could be your secret weapon to stop bad habits and finally get your little one to slip off to dreamland for the night.

What is the Pantley Method?

The Pantley method is based upon the principles of never letting your baby cry it out. The creator of the method, Elizabeth Pantley, is staunchly against sleep training that allows your baby to scream for any amount of time. Instead, she recommends using small, simple changes to your routine over an extended period of time to essentially break your little one of her bad sleep habits; and eventually learn to fall asleep—and stay asleep—on her own. Pantley believes that as a parent, you can learn to recognize cues from your baby to tell you when she's sleepy or hungry, which can remove some of the guesswork from parenting.

Expert Criticism

Dr. Edward Kulich, a pediatric sleep expert and the author of The Best Baby Sleep Book, breaks down the Pantley method for us. "The Pantley method is a behavioral method that involves making very small changes to 'nudge' your baby into sleeping," he explains. "The issue with this ... is that it is a specific behavior method that focuses on several discreet behavioral issues and uses one approach to 'nudge' a baby slowly into a specific behavior. There is no consideration of medical issues, and one 'shotgun' approach is used for a behavior that can be stemming from multiple issues and problems." Kulich recommends a more personalized approach to sleep training overall.

Pros

One of the best parts of the Pantley method is the lack of little tears. Since you're simply not to let your baby cry, you won't endure hours of howling like you might with the Ferber and Weissbluth methods. The Pantley method more directly coincides with attachment parenting ideals, and is often grouped with the Sears method as one of the gentler approaches. The Pantley method also preaches about learning your baby's individual cues, which is a good idea for any parent. Since your demanding little one can't tell you what she wants, you'll have to learn to interpret yawns, actions and wails.

Cons

Besides the fact that the Pantley method isn't a one-size-fits-all type of sleep training, there's also the issue of time. Since Pantley recommends tiny changes each day to trick your baby into sleep, you'll need a significant amount of time to start and continue the method. Most Pantley babies take two to four weeks to fully catch on to the training, which might seem like eons when you're already completely sleep deprived. The actions of the training method itself can also eat up a lot of time, so make sure your evenings are free.

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