The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Does your toddler or preschooler have sleep issues -- does he refuse to go to bed, fuss about naps, crawl out of his bed and into yours, go to sleep too late or wake up too early? On June 8, 2005 Elizabeth Pantley joined us with advice for getting your child to go to bed, stay in bed, and sleep through the night.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Elizabeth. Thank you for joining us.

PANTLEY:
Hello everyone! I am happy to have this chance to chat with all of you. Today we get to talk about my favorite parenting topic: children and sleep!

Sleep is such a huge issue because when children are not sleeping, parents are suffering their own lack of sleep, and sleep deprivation affects every minute of every day for every person in the family. As a mom of four I have plenty of personal experience in my history!

The good news is that every child can have better sleep when parents know how to identify the issues, and when they learn what solutions to apply in their own case. I am ready to talk with you about your questions.

MODERATOR:
Why do so many children have sleep problems? And how is this affecting their parents?

PANTLEY:
Would you believe that new research shows that over 70% of children under 5 years old have sleep issues? Of course, when children aren't sleeping, neither are their parents -- and that's the biggest problem for us.

MODERATOR:
What is the "gentle" solution you propose for getting children to sleep?

PANTLEY:
I'm a mom of four and a "gentle" mother. I have never believed in letting children cry to sleep. Yet I need MY sleep. So I researched and discovered hundreds of tips to help children sleep better without the tears. Every child is different, and every family's sleep issues are different. But there are lots of solutions that will suit every family.

MEMBER QUESTION:
When you use gentle, no-cry sleep methods does it take longer than cry-it-out sleep training?

PANTLEY:
It is a disturbing myth that a gentle sleep plan is slow and a cry-it-out plan is quick. The TRUTH is that either method can bring quick results. But in most cases, either way, cry or no cry, it will take weeks or months before a child is going to sleep easily and sleeping all night every night. Just like teaching a child to walk, talk, or use the potty, there is no one-day solution. And there is no simple one-size-fits-all solution.

"You can invite the "morning fairy" into your house -- she is the tooth fairy's sister. She leaves small prizes outside the hall of young children who sleep in their beds all night and don't wake Mommy and Daddy."

MEMBER QUESTION:
How do I help my 16-month-old sleep though the night? We run a regular schedule but she still doesn't sleep. She still wakes up for a bottle.

PANTLEY:
What a great (and common!) question! First of all -- it is actually impossible for ANY child to sleep through the night. All human beings wake up five or more times every night, mainly when shifting from one stage of sleep to another.

When your child goes to sleep with a specific sleep aid -- like a bottle, pacifier or breastfeeding, or rocking -- she will look for that same situation whenever she wakes between sleep cycles. So what we want to do is gradually help her to fall asleep without the bottle in her mouth! First, start giving her less liquid in the bottle (You can buy cute bottles that hold less fluid.) Then, start diluting the liquid (milk/juice) with water; it won't be so interesting then. (You can give her a CUP of milk.) Eventually the bottle will lose its appeal. Those are some great first steps to take.

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