Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution (Contemporary Books, 2002)
There are two camps when it comes to “how to get your baby to bed” books—there’s the cry-it-out camp and there’s the no-cry camp. When it comes down to the empirical brass tacks, as it were, I could go either way (I reviewed, relatively favorably, the cry-it-out book The Dream Sleeper for Amazon Vine back in February 2012). But I have discovered, both through reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution and through witnessing some very heated discussions on Facebook, that the no-cry camp is no longer a school of thought—it has been elevated to an almost religious dogma. And that is a turn-off, no matter what the subject.
Why? Because the no-cry camp is not willing to live and let live, as the cry-it-out camp do. When the latter mention the existence of the former, it is to note they exist, mostly for the sake of completeness. (Fairness. Who’d’a’thunk?) On the other hand, when the no-cry camp mention the cry-it-out camp, it’s to paint them as subhuman monsters who are to be eradicated from the face of the earth at all costs. Well, okay, that’s something of a (minor) exaggeration; they do, on the other hand, paint cry-it-outers as neglectful, perhaps abusive, parents. This while (and I rush to add that I am not condemning this practice out of hand, just mentioning that others do), at least in the case of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, wholeheartedly endorsing co-sleeping. Here’s an interesting passage from the preface: “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not recommend co-sleeping with an infant. Nevertheless, many parents do share sleep with their baby. The safety list and references to co-sleeping in this book are not intended to be construed as permission to use this parenting practice, but are provided as information for those parents who have researched this issue and have made a choice to co-sleep with their baby.” Wow, if that’s not a perfect example of CYA language (and, while I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, CYA language that it seems to me would not hold up for even a fraction of a second if challenged during a lawsuit), I’ve never seen one before.
But man, I’m getting away from my original point in that paragraph. Sorry. Here’s another fun passage from the preface: “I decided then and there: [all advocates of cry-it-out are] wrong. Horribly, intolerably, painfully wrong.” [ed. note: I could probably stop there. Value-judgment words much? And lest I make you think that perhaps I put in an absolute where Pantley did not use one, the original quote I bracketed is “they are all wrong”, emphasis mine. She does use the absolute.] I was convinced that this is a simplistic and harsh way to treat another human being, let alone the precious little love of my life. I would never again allow her to cry it out. Even more, I vowed not to let any of her brothers or sisters-to-be suffer the horrible experience we’d just endured.” Wow. If you endorse the cry-it-out camp, in other words, you are treating children in a “simplistic and harsh” way, making them suffer through a “horrible experience”. Might as well just tie yourself to the stake so you can be burnt.
As I said back during the first paragraph, I could go either way. And you know what? Based on my experience (I have two children, one seventeen years old, the other fifteen months), the kid’s going to cry anyway. No, I don’t like the sound of it—I think humans are hard-wired to hate the sound of a baby crying, and to have the urge to stop it from happening. No-cry seems like a pretty good way to go… or it would if its advocates, at least the ones who write books and participate in facebook discussions on the subject, weren’t such zealots. I find it hard to judge the content of this book empirically because, over the course of reading it, I developed such a strong antipathy towards its author’s attitude toward those who subscribe to a different point of view than she does. At one point, I simply stopped trying and decided to give the book the gentleman’s C. Why? Because (a) despite the differences in dogma and Pantley’s endorsement of co-sleeping, which is thoroughly banned by the cry-it-out camp, a great deal of what is in The No-Cry Sleep Solution will look familiar to anyone who’s read a cry-it-out book; I wasn’t taking notes enough to be able to give you a solid number, but eyeballing it, I’d say I covered about 80% of what’s in this book while reading The Dream Sleeper. (And thus this silliness reminds me of Christians vs. Muslims even more.) And because (b) my review doesn’t matter, because you’re not going to care about style. If you’re already in the no-cry camp, this book is going to be preaching to the choir, and my guess is that if you’re already in the cry-it-out camp, this book isn’t going to sway you to the other side. Which makes this review, or any other review, utterly irrelevant. ** ½