It might seem like all your friends have babies that are good sleepers. I bet it feels like everyone is telling you to do something, and putting in their 2 cents. It’s a very emotional subject, dealing with sleep deprivation, guilt, doubt, and more sleep deprivation.
Here are a few ideas to help you through this. By all means, adapt a plan that suits your family. Change it to suit your needs. Don’t let anyone, including these ideas, push you to do something that feels wrong, but sounds right. And review some of my old posts to prepare for some difficult nights (These are the basics: Baby Steps, Quiet Environment, Consistency and Compassion, Good Habits, Mama’s the Expert, and Remain Calm).
These ideas range from gentle method to more drastic measures. (I’ll be re-writing these ideas with more details when I have time.)
Co-Sleeping: The easiest, most natural solution. Parents have been doing it for eons. So why not consider it too? Dr. James McKenna has plenty of research to back up this sleep method.
Breastfeeding: Yeah, I know everyone says that you have to break the connection of breastfeeding and sleep, but darn it works! Plus, something gets released in breast milk to make babies sleepy. Why would Mother Nature do this if you weren’t supposed to make good use of it? So if you’ve tried everything, just soothe your baby to sleep with a cuddle and a boob. Isn’t it a great compliment that you are the best source of comfort for baby?
The No-Cry Method – by Elizabeth Pantley: She has many good ideas, and all are very gentle, though your baby may still cry a bit. Any change is difficult, so it’s normal that baby will protest.
Daddy’s Turn: Sometimes Moms need a break. Plus, it’s possible that your baby will feel differently about sleep when the boobies are out of the picture. Of course, they might also hate this, but it’s worth a shot. Dr. Sears is a big advocate of “fathering down”, a cuddly way of holding baby in the crook of dad’s neck that soothes baby.
Dr. Jay Gordon: He describes in his website a ten-day transition to help older babies learn how to fall asleep on their own.
Pick-up, Put-down method – by Tracy Hogg, aka The Baby Whisperer: Basically, you’re supposed to pick up your baby the moment they start crying, then put them down the moment they stop crying. The idea is that your baby will never be left to cry-it-out. You comfort them back to sleep, then put them down as soon as he’s calmed down. If they start crying again, you pick them up again and start over. If they are too old for this method, and know how to sit up or stand on their own, you simply scoop them without lifting them out of the crib and lay them down. You comfort them with shushing and patting their backs when they are laying down. You do this until they fall asleep on their own. I’ve done this method. There are tears, and I did my best to soothe. In between the tears and laying down, I did take my time to comfort him in my arms without removing him from the crib.
Fading Out: I’ll describe more about this method later, but in a nutshell you are supposed to gradually remove yourself from the room every night a step further.
Cry-it-out, aka Ferber method: Well, you know I’m not a fan of this method, but I will not judge any parent who has to resort to it. I’m sure if it’s come to this point, they have tried everything and are at the end of their wits. The only warning is to make sure you don’t intermittently walk in the baby’s room. This just conditions the baby to think that if they cry long enough, someone will show up. (Oh, and by the way, Ferber has admitted that he has co-slept with his children.)