A little background. Since Oliver was born, he has slept in bed with us (aka Co-sleeping). It wasn't our plan, but it was the only way we could get him to sleep when he was little, and then it became a habit. He also was refusing to go to sleep without nursing and eating through out the night. We have been wanting to transition him out of our bed since about 4 months. He is currently 7.5 months, so it has been a long process!
There are many mixed feelings in the world about the CIO method (Crying It Out). This is the method of laying your baby in the crib and letting them cry as long as possible until they fall asleep. I am not strongly for or against this system, but in my case I could not handle it! I tried a few times to let Oliver CIO, and about 10 minutes in I was crying louder than he was!! I knew that it wasn't an option for us.
Here are just a few tips that I learned along the way:
This was what finally worked for us. I kept trying to lay Ollie down wide awake, and it was painfully obvious that it wasn't going to work without heavy CIO. I started nursing him to sleep, rocking for a few minutes until he was deeply asleep, kissing him and gently waking him up, and then laying him down. Because he is still tired, he falls back to sleep easily.
2. If they don't stop crying in 2 minutes, take baby out and try another night.
The CIO foks don't like this technique because they say it will make baby cry longer each night, but I found the opposite. When we were trying the crib around 5 months, I felt Oliver was crying out of fear rather than frustration. It just wasn't the right time for me to let him CIO. A few nights each week I would lay him in his crib, let him cry a bit, and take him out. Soon enough he became use to being laid down and the crying stopped, It may to take longer than strict CIO, but it is much easier on mom and baby.
3. Provide a night light in the nursery
The addition of a night light made a world of difference during bedtime. The lamp was too bright, but I didn't like it 100% dark.
My biggest mistake was trying to introduce the crib and take away nursing to sleep all at the same time. I recommend tackling one big change at a time.
5. Try to pat or rub their back (Addition to original post 1 year later)
This works particularly well if you baby isn't old enough to pull up or crawl around. I can't do this anymore now that Oliver is a toddler, but when we were first learning to lay him in the crib I would sometimes stay in his room for an hour just patting and rubbing his back until he fell asleep. It is time consuming, however being peaceful and calm in their crib helps them associate the crib with sleep rather than stress.
6. Don't give up!
Like I said, this took around 3 months of trying a few nights a week, but one day it just clicked! One night I laid him in his crib and after 2-3 minutes of soft whimpering, he fell asleep on his own and slept 10 hours straight! It will happen. Just move as quickly or as slowly as you feel comfortable.
At what age did your littles start sleeping through the night?
How do you feel about the CIO method?