For the purposes of this article, there are two types of parents.
The first type, they were blessed with babies who slept through the night at 3 or 6 months. We are very happy for this group.
Then there is the other group. The rest of us. The moms and dads out here with 1 and 2-year-old babies who still wake up throughout the night. The parents of colic babies.
This article is for us, the “other group,” the tired masses of zombie parents.
Sleep training is a hotly debated topic amongst parents and pediatricians alike. My own pediatrician recommends the Ferber method, which involves laying baby down to bed and checking on the baby at regular intervals, but not picking baby up.
As a co-sleeping advocate, I do not subscribe to the Ferber, or Cry-it-out methods, or any method that forbids me from comforting baby or that has me making drastic changes to our normal bedtime routine.
I have handled both of my children differently. What worked for my son has not worked for my daughter, and why would it? I believe that each child is different, with unique personalities. It is up to us as parents to figure out what works best for our individual children.
For my son, I used a version of the Fading Out method. I started when he was 18 months old. Step one was laying down with him in his toddler bed. I did this for maybe a week. Then, I would sit on the floor right next to his bed until he fell asleep. This meant rubbing his back and putting him back in his bed over and over again for another week or so.
When he could fall asleep without me laying with him, just touching his back, I started to just sit with him near his bed and not touch him. After a week or so of success, I started lying him down and standing by the door. That progressed to laying him down and then leaving the room.
It took at least 5 months to get to that point and sometimes I would still have to put him back in his bed multiple times a night.
With my daughter, I am starting the process a lot earlier. We got her a co-sleeper bed at 10 months old. She is right next to our bed with just a small bumper between us. It is high enough that she cannot roll onto our bed, but low enough that she can easily crawl over it.
I started out transferring her to the co-sleeper after she was asleep. She would wake up in the co-sleeper and crawl back to me. I would nurse her and when she fell back to sleep, I would put her back in the co-sleeper.
After a few weeks, she would allow me to put her in the co-sleeper before she was fully asleep as long as I was touching her. It took my daughter only about a month before she started to prefer to sleep in the co-sleeper bed. Now, after she nurses, she crawls back to into her own bed.
Once she is no longer nursing through the night, I will move her to a regular crib away from my bed. Then, eventually, to her own room.
The key to any method is patience and consistency. Some kids take longer than others, and some nights will be harder than others. Just keep at it and remember that it is a short time in a big life.