I've learned quickly that I can't compare babies... but wow! Jack has been totally different! For the longest time, I could only nurse him to sleep. However, as soon as I twitched or unlatched him, he woke up screaming and was inconsolable until I nursed him again. G'ama was able to rock him to sleep if swaddled tightly and a pacifier was crammed into his mouth. At about 4 months, I couldn't even nurse him to sleep. He was so easily over-stimulated being around anyone when he was trying to fall asleep (me included). I tried patting him or singing to him while he was in his crib. I tried rocking him with a pacifier. I tried swaddling him tightly. I tried letting him cry (it didn't stop!!). He cried so hard that he threw up, and because of his acid reflux, he would scream harder.
Exhausted and in tears, I called my pediatrician. She had me come in so she could see him and talk to me. She sat in that exam room with us for at least 20 minutes. She just played with Jack, listened to me vent, and told me about her experiences with a high-maintenance baby (never once did she look at her watch during that time). It made me feel like so much less of a failure just hearing her tell me about her husband going in to the nursery at 2am, yelling at (but not touching) their baby to "Go to sleep!", then coming back to bed saying, "Well, I know that didn't accomplish anything, but it sure made me feel better!" :)
She told me about a book called The SleepEasy Solution. I went home and ordered it that night. It arrived, and I read it in a little over a day or two (pretty much just during nap time, so it's a pretty easy read).
The gist of the book is that he isn't going to learn to fall asleep (and stay asleep as he cycles in and out of a deep sleep and REM [the dream state]) if he's depending on sleep aids such as rocking, swaddling, and a pacifier. It helps the parents by giving guidelines of how to establish a routine, including what time to put him down for naps during the day (I was pushing back his morning nap way too long), good bedtimes for different ages, dream feeds, and weaning night feeds (after 5-6 months of age). It gave guidelines (and much needed realistic encouragement) on how to allow him to "cry it out," while still showing him that I hadn't left him (vs just letting him cry until he fell asleep... which didn't work).
WOW! It only took Jack one night to learn! The book says, "In 5 days or less," but I thought that had to be a gimmick... nope! It was a hard first night... 1 1/2 hours of crying and checking in on him at various intervals. But once he fell asleep, he slept for 6 hours straight! Woke up happy, went down for his nap calmly (BY HIMSELF!!), and it only took about 3 minutes of light fussing before he fell asleep!
I was so excited that I immediately told some of my friends. They bought the book and started sleep training their 1.5-year-old a couple weeks later. It was a little harder for them, since he had to unlearn longer habits (vs starting at Jack's 4.5 months), but within 5 days, he was a new kid! He calmly falls asleep by himself, and he stays asleep all night long!
I know this totally sounds like an infomercial (I should get paid for this, right?), but it works!!
Check out the book here! It's worth it, I promise!