I've been praying for wisdom on how to best teach Griffin to sleep through the night because I simply can not let him cry it out. Many, many, many great parents that I know have used cry it out and recommend it. But I can't do it.
When I hear the advice, "They may cry for 2 or 3 hours the first couple nights but then they'll go right to sleep", it physically makes me hurt. I can not imagine leaving my baby alone to cry for 3 hours until he finally gives up and goes to sleep.
There HAS to be a more gentle way to teach him how to sleep all night in his own bed.
Part of our problem is that he's just like me. Busy. So he plays HARD all day, stopping just to snack, and then likes to eat all night. He doesn't wake up to play but he does eat every 1-2 hours at night....STILL. (Although, in all fairness, this is a recent development. Awhile back he was going every 3-4 hours).
A couple weeks, maybe a month ago, I decided I was going to force him into a day-time eating schedule so that he wouldn't be as hungry at night and sleep longer/better. I quickly realized that was a battle I didn't want to fight. To get him to eat a real meal, not just a snack, during the day, I have to lie down with him in a quiet dark room for 15-30 minutes. Time I don't have when I'm caring for a 2 year old and/or a 4 month old. Maybe if I only had one kid, this would work. Despite my quick abandonment of this plan, something awesome resulted. We now have our first, albeit very loose, schedule. Griffin "sleeps" from 7pm-7am, with a nap around 9am and 3pm. Of course all of those times can vary from 1-3 hours but in general my day will follow something close to that schedule.
So although it didn't go as planned, I do feel like I prayed for and listened to God's guidance for this particular baby. Tonight as I was putting Griffin to sleep, I felt like I heard that same voice guiding me in the next "plan".
I'm going to try to start forcing Griffin into a night eating schedule. I'm going to give up on the hope of a full nights sleep for now and try to only feed him every 3-4 hours at night. This takes some major commitment on my part because feeding him ensures that I (me, mommy) gets back to sleep the quickest. But if I'm willing to commit my time I am capable of getting him back to sleep by singing to him, rubbing his back, and just letting him cry.
The difference between what I do and cry it out...I'm with him and comforting him. I never leave him for long stretches of time. As long as he's laying down and cooperating, I will comfort him- read to him, sing, hum, rub his back, etc. If he sits up or stands up, I tell him "It's bedtime Griffin, good-night, I love you." Then I walk out of his room and shut the door and wait 2-3 minutes (or go do a load of laundry, etc). Then I go back in and lay him down (without picking him up) and start the whole process again. The most I've ever had to leave his room is 4 times.
So, I fully expect something awesome to come from this. I would also wager that its not what I would expect. But he is old enough and big enough to start learning and understanding that his crib is a safe place and that mommy will ALWAYS hear and respond to his cries.
I love this adventure!