Okay, a lot.
I might actually choke on them.
Remember this post I did about a month ago on how I wouldn't let Olive cry it out? Well... I did. And this time it really worked.
We had made progress with Olive using the No-Cry Sleep Solution: bedtime was quick and easy and she was not nursing to sleep, but she was still waking up once a night most nights. A friend of mine was telling me how her 20-month old still wakes up at night and will escape from her crib into the parents' bedroom or cry like crazy if they try to put her back in her room. I do not want that happening! I needed to get Olive sleeping through the entire night before she figured out how to do that.
My other friend told me how CIO had worked for her child after doing it only once when he was about four months old (he is now around 9 months old). Since I felt like I had done all I could without letting Olive cry, I resorted, once again, to letting her cry it out.
That first night, Olive woke around 4 a.m. and we let her cry herself back to sleep, which took about 35 minutes. In the three weeks since then, Olive has awoken four times, or 19% of the time--a much better statistic than before CIO! We let her cry one of those times for 40 minutes until she fell back asleep, let her cry another time for 40 minutes before going to get her and soothe her back to sleep, another time for 65 minutes before getting her and a fourth time got up with her after just a few minutes because she sounded serious.
Other than those four times, Olive is now sleeping through each night for an average of 11 hours. It is heavenly!
I'm obviously not a child sleep expert, but have learned a lot through trial and error. For those who are interested, here's my personal opinion on what works, what I've learned, what I believe and what I would recommend based on my experience (I would love to hear what has worked for you, too):
1. Try everything you can before letting your child cry it out -- including creating a calm, consistent bedtime routine and allowing your child to fall asleep without a sleep aid (bottle, breast, rocking).
2. Use a bottle for bedtime feeding. When I used to breastfeed Olive before bed, she would nurse and nurse and nurse until she fell asleep. I became her sleep aid and her pacifier. When I determined to not nurse to sleep, I would pry Olive off my breast when I could tell she was done eating. She was not happy about this and would get upset, making her more awake and making it harder to get her to sleep on her own. I found that pumping and giving Olive breast milk in a bottle at night worked much better. It allowed me to know she was getting plenty of food to get her through the night, and she would push the bottle away when she was done. It also has proven helpful as I've been trying to wean Olive, as I can mix cow's milk with the breast milk. And more importantly, it allows Dad to do bedtime!
3. Allow your child to slowly adjust to a full night's sleep. I believe CIO should not be tried until a child has naturally developed a pattern of sleeping through the whole night. Once the baby has proved they are capable of going that long without waking and eating, I would feel more comfortable trying CIO. For me, that comfort zone would not come before six months.
4. Allow yourself to break CIO routines. Babies get sick, go through growth spurts, teethe--legitimate needs that call for a parent's comfort. It's okay to soothe your baby at night during these times.