Well, I know I've blogged about this topic already and I also know there are hundreds of websites out there on this topic. However, since we are currently sleep training my little one I figure I'd document the occasion.
I'm super tired and should be sleeping since my kids are currently sleeping.. so here is the quick and dirty.
Basic idea of sleep training is to teach the child that he/she can fall asleep on his/her own. Therefore, if he/she happens to wake up in the middle of the night due to whatever it is, he/she can then fall back asleep without crying and needing to be rocked or nursed.
I love this analogy I read in a book about how even adults have sleep associations. For instance if my pillow falls to the ground in the middle of the night and I happen to wake up I will look for the pillow and put it back in bed with me before falling back asleep. In the same way if a child is used to falling asleep while nursing or while being rocked, then he/she will want that comfort if he/she wakes up in the middle of the night.
So what is our strategy/plan? Yes.. there is some crying involved. However, I check on her and make sure she is alright.. 5 min, then 10 min, then every 15 min after that. Based on the type of crying, I can actually tell if she will fall asleep soon. So if she is not screaming her head off I may just let her cry. Otherwise, going in there sometimes make her cry even harder.
Plus, what really helped is having daddy going in there to comfort in the middle of the night instead of me because then she cannot look to nurse. When I go in there, I tend to give in and just nurse because it is so much easier to get her back to sleep that way!
The other challenge to sleep training our second child is I am so fearful of waking up my toddler that I actually delayed this for a really long time. My child is 8 months already! In retrospect, I probably could have started this sleep training when she hit 6 months and was taking solids. Because then I know that she can last through the night without starving...
So at the end of the day, it is an art. I do not think there is a magic formula. Every kid is different and therefore I think the exact method needs to be adjusted somewhat. My older daughter was a real tough one. I had to almost lay on top of her in the crib and pat her butt so that she feels me real close (but I wasn't holding her). Then I transitioned to just patting her butt... then to just sitting near her and singing.. then to sitting farther away.. then to outside her door. Now she sleeps great from 8ish a night to 8ish in the morning just about every night!
My younger daughter does not seem as determined and I'm real hopeful that in about a day or two she will have this down. Boy.. my other daughter was almost 15 months before she finally slept through the night. It will be so great if I can get this second one to sleep through before she hits 1 year old!
So here are some books I read on this subject:
No Cry Sleep Solution
Happiest Baby on the Block