I basically call this a very gentle cry it out method where after our sleep routine, I lay her down awake and leave, BUT then as soon as she starts to cry I go to her, pat her bum, shush or sing and stay with her the entire time until she falls asleep. This way she knows I am there (the idea of her feeling like she has been abandoned was the reason I could not get behind true extinction CIO.) The first day she screamed (screamed!) for an hour and a half every single time I put her down which was 4 times that day (3 day naps and bedtime.) I cried every time with her. It was just so hard not to pick her up but I knew if I picked her up she would think her crying would always lead to me picking her up and I so badly needed her to know she was safe in her own bed. It was also extremely time consuming but again, we so needed this. On the second day, the crying (again with me there with her) lasted maybe 30 minutes each time. Little by little it just kept getting better and better. Here we are on day 11 and she is able to put her self to sleep with no crying, in her own bed, in about 10 minutes for her morning and afternoon nap. IT IS LIFE CHANGING and so freaking awesome. I never, in a million years thought we'd get here. (PRAISE HANDS.)
Bedtime is still somewhat hard because it is when she is most tired and my baby does not do well overtired. So she is still crying when we put her down for the night for about 25 minutes. We'll get there though. Now, through the night is a bit different because we all need to get sleep then. Here's what we do:
Bedtime: 6:30 (Usually asleep around 7)
The sleep routine is the same for day and night sleep and it's pretty typical:
Sound machine on
Say I love you, close your eyes, it's time for sleep
Lay her down and walk out
If she wakes before 10, I do not nurse her or pick her up but continue with the patting and shushing until she falls back asleep. Then after that if she wakes, I do get her and nurse. Sometimes I put her back in her bed, (which I should note is in our room, right next to my side of the bed) sometimes I don't, but I NEVER let her stay attached to the nipple anymore. If I can feel that she is just pacifying I unlatch her and roll over so she can go to sleep without me. She has been sleeping 3-4 hour stretches through the night, which sounds terrible but 11 days ago she was only sleeping 40 minute stretches so I am extremely pleased with this progress.
I know there are so many different methods and ways to help a baby sleep better. This is what we decided to do and I think no matter what, the most important thing is to be 100% committed and 100% consistent. They need to know the routine to get comfortable with it and inconsistency will confuse and regress the entire process, and I think this is also why it is so important for you to use a method that feels right to you.
So, if you are a sleep deprived mama reading this, struggling to get through your days, I hear you. It is hard and feels impossible. Im here to say though that it can be better. You are strong and determined and patient and one heck of a mama. You can do anything you set your heart to. (Thank you to my husband for saying these exact words to me 11 days ago.)