Almost every parent at some point will ask themselves, "when will my child fall asleep on their own?" It's been a little over a year since I wrote about Our No Cry Sleep Solution. Every parent has the right to choose what works best for them when they are raising their children. When it came to getting our child to sleep it seemed like most people tried to convince us to let our child cry himself to sleep. We can see why some would choose this method, however, my husband and I never felt comfortable doing this. It was frustrating trying to find personal experiences of people not letting their child cry it out. Being more of an attached parent and not letting your child cry it out can be stressful and tiring at times. However, your child will eventually learn to put him or herself to sleep. Having your spouse or a close friend who can help you makes things a lot easier. Thankfully, my husband and I worked as a team and when one of us was too tired to sit in the room with my son, the other one would step in. I know of several single parents who ended up co-sleeping until their child was ready to sleep on their own. I also have a few married friends who did the same. You have to do what works for you. After almost two years of helping my son fall asleep (first nursing him to sleep, to rocking him to sleep, to putting him in his crib and staying in his room until he fell asleep), I am pleased to say that my son now goes to sleep on his own.
About a month ago (right before he turned two), we were able to put him in his crib and leave the room. Since I breastfed him his first year of life he typically fell asleep during the last feeding. Who was I to wake him up?! I went against the advice of others and gently laid him in his bed once he fell asleep trying NOT to wake him because if I did he would be up for another hour or two. Also if he woke up at night (which didn't and still doesn't happen that often), we will change his diaper and usually bring him to our room. Sometimes my husband will take him back to his bed once he's asleep, other times he stays with us until the morning. If I tried taking him back to his bed, he'd wake up. And no, he never developed a habit of waking up in the middle of the night or demanding to sleep with us.
Once I started weaning my son, my husband stepped in to help put him bed. At first my husband would read to him and then rock him to sleep. The first few nights he'd cry some for me but my husband stuck with it and gently reassured him that he was fine. After several months we would take turns putting him sleep because we needed to make sure he'd go to sleep for both of us. Then we transitioned to after story time my husband would put him in his bed and sit in his room until my son (and sometimes my husband) fell asleep. Once he seemed comfortable with that, we started putting him in his bed and saying something such as "goodnight, love you. I'll be back to check on you in a few minutes, please lay down and go to sleep." And half the time he would say, "Mommy will be right back?" or "Daddy will be right back?" We would say yes and would come back into his room to check on him after a few minutes. By this time he understood the concept of us returning so he didn't cry for us. If he was standing or sitting up in his bed, we'd gently ask him to lay down and tell him "goodnight" again. During this time we also added a nightlight which seemed to help him. This phase didn't take very long because he ended up falling asleep before he came back to check on him. Now we are able to put him to bed and say goodnight and leave.
I want to encourage you that if you decide to not let your child cry it out that they will naturally learn how to self-soothe and go to sleep on their own when they are ready. Don't give up. It took us almost two years to get where we are. It may take you less or maybe more. And, it's okay to bring them to your room on nights you are too tired to stay with him until they fall asleep, if you choose to do so. While you should be consistent for the most part, it's okay to vary your routine some if you need to. They are adaptable and will eventually not need your help to fall asleep. It was worth the sacrifice to us and our son has adjusted very well. He even falls asleep in hotel beds with no fuss - I think that is partly because we waited until he was ready to fall asleep on his own.
I'm curious, if you did not let your child cry it out, how long did it take your child to naturally be able to fall asleep on their own?