I had a meltdown the other night. It was a bad one, we'll just leave it at that, so we decided to come up with a better sleep plan for Bennett. We've only done it two nights, but it's worked extremely well.
J discovered this website which gave us the base for our plan.
No pacifier. That little bink is making our lives miserable, so it's gone. B still gets it for his naps, but I want to wean him off it entirely soon.
White noise. J downloaded an MP3, we hooked the MP3 player to a small portable stereo and set it up in his room. The first night we didn't have a good system set up. Poor B woke up screaming when his white noise switched to Casting Crowns. Oops. Now it plays continuously all night long. We use it for naps too.
Put down awake. I rock B until he is mostly asleep then set him down in his crib. The website suggests using a swing, but B was having none of that. The first night he slept soundly until the music woke him up. Putting him to sleep after that was a struggle. I went upstairs while J stood outside the nursery listening to him cry. He was crying in a cyclical fashion (fuss, calm down, doze off, fuss, calm down, doze off) so we let him fuss. After fifteen or so minutes he settled and slept well.
Last night he cried for a few minutes after being set down. J tried to calm him without success, then I walked with him for a few minutes while singing his favorite calm down song, set him down, and he went to sleep.
He slept from 7:15 to 3:45.
After nursing at 3:45 I couldn't get him to settle in his crib without screaming. I brought him upstairs with me and he slept in our bed until 8:45. That's the best night we've had in a long, long time, and that's the longest he's gone between feeds at night. I woke up before he did this morning, refreshed and headache free for the first time in weeks.
Comfort item. I give B whatever shirt I've been wearing for the day to sleep with. It was amazing to watch him the first night. I set him down in his crib, he fussed once, pulled my shirt to his cheek, rolled over, and slept.
There is an element of sleep training to our plan, but I feel like it's a gentler method than straight crying it out, which is where we were headed. I was so frustrated with B, and tired, I wasn't as good of a mom during the day. I was so done with every nap a struggle, every night spent rocking, soothing, nursing with a few scattered hours of sleep.
I think the best part of the plan is that Bennett will go down awake and fall asleep with minimal to no fussing. There's no way I could handle him screaming for an hour, but I can handle a few minutes of fussing. In two days we've learned when he's settling himself to sleep and when he's crying because he needs something.
B is napping right now without needing to be held. I'm writing this then heading into the kitchen to work on my homemade rolls and chicken noodle soup for dinner. We had a good day, B and I. I was more patient with him, kinder, calmer. And he was well rested, less fussy than he has been in a while. We had a great time shopping this morning. When he wakes from his nap we'll play until bedtime and for the first time in a while I won't dread the process.