How We Finally Got Our Baby to Sleep Through the Night

-Written when my baby was almost a year old; I didn't finish the post back then because, baby didn't keep sleeping through the night!

    Oh my baby?
    He slept for 12 1/2 hours last night, 9 of which were uninterrupted by night wakings.
    Sorry to sound like a bragging mom but, I'm a little entitled.
    I spent 10 months suffering the horrendous effects of sleep deprivation. Many days I felt irritable, angry and zombie-like.             Some days the deprivation made me feel physically sick, others just depressed and hopeless.
    Don't get me wrong, I had good days too but sleep deprivation and my baby's ongoing night wakings were taking a toll on every aspect of my life.

    Me, me, me, I'm going on just about myself... 
Imagine how my poor baby felt... waking up every couple of hours nearly every single night?!
    There has been a lot of mommy-guilt associated with my child's sleep issues.
    I knew my boy, Sam, at times felt sleepy, irritable or wired and that, at times made me feel like a failure.
    And you may say, "But why would you feel like a failure because your baby wasn't a good sleeper? All babies are different. It doesn't mean you were doing anything wrong."
    I'll tell you why-
It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children everything in the early months and years of life.

    We talk them through a diaper change, we say things like 'I'm turning the light off,' 'we're going bye bye,' to help them begin to connect actions and objects to words.
    We teach them to eat mush, then lumpy mush, then nibbles of real food.
    We read to them, point things out and so on and so forth.
    Sleep is not exempt from what we, as parents, are responsible for teaching our children.

Sleep is learned. 

    Those words hit me like a sack of stones the first time I read them in "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Dr. Ferber.
    "Damn it," I thought, "So this really is on me."
    In his book Ferber goes on to explain the research that has been conducted to show sleep is primarily learned.
    So, for those of you reading this that think, "My little one will learn in his or her own sweet time to sleep," well, technically you're right since all children do eventually learn to self soothe and sleep but that 'eventually' leaves a lot of open space and time to wonder how long it will take your child to learn the skill of self soothing and sleeping peacefully through the night, on his or her own.

Back to the Present:

    Now my child is 3 years and 9 months old. Don't worry, he didn't just now start sleeping through the night on his own.
    It did however take him, and hence my husband and I, nearly 2 years, to get consistent, quality shut eye on the majority of nights.

The scoop:

    I tried the Ferber method, maybe 3 different times when Sam was less than a year old and could never fully stick to and/or complete it, even though it is a simple program- in theory.
    And to this day I have nothing against the Ferber method because, if you follow it rigidly your baby should learn to sleep on his own within a week, tops so, all of that crying is ultimately very short term and for his own good!
    The Ferber method works best for babies (less than 1 year of age), that's important to note.
    I wish I could've stuck with it but simply wasn't able to listen to my baby cry. It provoked feelings of extreme anxiety and sorrow.
    That being said, I still think my baby benefited from our family's best attempts at the Ferber method.
    Naturally we also tried some 'softer methods' too during our family's sleep struggle... we tried everything... as all sleep-deprived families do but, the softer methods were highly ineffective for us.       The 'softer methods' books I read back then came highly recommended and and were well-known but, honestly, they were so useless to me in their methodology, I donated them and don't even recall the authors' names!
    But that's just our experience.
    Looking back, based on the extensive research I did, and on personal experience, these were my main mistakes:

-I always nursed him to sleep
-I allowed no noise what so ever when baby was sleeping (crazy mom with a hand written note on the door... once I scared Jehovah's Witness so bad they thought I was the devil!)
-I put him in our bed to sleep with us from the first night on
-I held him while he slept

Let's examine these common habits more closely:

    As a new mom, eager to breastfeed, the focus those first few days is on: getting baby to learn to properly latch, assuring baby's on the breast enough, having your milk come in and, making sure you both truly learn the art of breastfeeding (it's not as easy as it sounds!).
    So, it's only natural for baby to fall asleep at the breast because, newborn babies are on the boob as often as they are not on the boob- literally.
    And, human nature shows us, if something works we keep doing it.
    Nursing my baby helped him fall asleep so, I kept doing it. It wasn't until about 6 months later that this started to become maddening... as he'd play with my other nipple with his fingers while he nursed, looked around for several minutes, would take breaks only to insist on having the breast back in his mouth and so on.
    The lesson here is: yes, nursing your baby to sleep works but, once he gets bigger, you'll become burnt out since it becomes more grueling as baby grows bigger and smarter.
    The no-noise policy... there's not much to say about that other than... I must've been crazy. That's just not a good idea. Babies nap often so they need to be accustomed to common household noises.
    Putting Sam in our bed to sleep with us was due to pure exhaustion. Nursing every 1 1/2 to 2 hours was made a little easier having Sam right next to me in bed so I literally just had to lift my shirt up and fall back asleep. But again, once the kid's 5 or 6 months old, he moves around a lot and no one sleeps as well when a child co-sleeps with his parents, period.
    Holding him while he slept was so precious to me when he was so tiny. I didn't want to put him down! I was addicted to holding my baby, it just felt right. However, as you can see, a pattern forms from these early habits and, as baby grows, they can become very hard to break.
Seeing our babies sleeping, no matter their age, gives us peace of mind!

Every mom should ultimately do that which makes her feel comfortable but, keep in mind, that which feels comfortable with a 1 week old, will very likely not feel comfortable with a 1 year old!

Good Luck!
Lastly, you will survive.
You're doing a great job.
It will be O.K.