When I tell people that I have sleep trained my children they often think that I am a cruel and horrible human being. They believe that by sleep training I mean I just place my child into a crib and let them scream bloody murder until they fall asleep.
I once told somebody that I sleep trained and she responded by saying, "Well, I would never sleep train my children!" She clearly didn't actually understand what sleep training is and it really has nothing to do with crying it out.
Let me tell you something, I have sleep trained all of my children and I have only let one kid cry it out one time. He was 18 months and he was waking up every 2 hours to nurse. I decided that 18 months was way too old to nurse every two hours. He cried for about half an hour but never started screaming. And then he never woke up in the middle of the night from then on out.
We decided to sleep train our children when my oldest was 14 months. I was 7 months pregnant with my second child and I was so tired trying to get my kid to sleep every night and I refused to do that with two children. Every single night we would have to put my toddler in his bouncer and then bounce him to sleep. It was a nightmare. I knew something would have to change. I decided to read everything I could about sleep training and I developed my own system.
The key to sleep training is not crying it out. The key to sleep training is not rocking your children to sleep. Do not rock your child to sleep, sing your child to sleep, or even sleep next to them to get them to sleep. Likewise, don't rely on a bottle to get them to fall asleep.
You want your child to learn how to fall asleep without having you right by their side. Your child will rely on you to get back to sleep if they rely on you to fall asleep in the first place. Therefore, you need to put your baby down when you know they are tired yet awake. Don't wait until your child falls asleep to put them in their crib. If your child starts whining and crying a little bit that is okay. It is okay if they are crying for a few minutes.
If they continue crying then you can go and get them and love on them a little bit and then try again. I never let my child scream. If they start screaming they are not going to fall asleep. So, I go and get them. I am not an expert but I have done this with all three of my boys. It is amazing! We put the kids to bed at about 8:30 and walk away. We don't have to rock, or soothe, or give bottles, or anything. We get them ready for bed and lay them in their beds and close the doors. I even put my two-year-old down in his crib for his nap and close the door. He has done this since about 5 months old.
I often hear the line, "my kids would never do that!" Some people say, "wow, you must have really laid-back children." And I also get, "you are just really lucky." We worked really hard to get to this point. Sleep training is exhausting for us because you have to stick with it and you can't cave in and sleep with them or bring them into your bed.
Also, it is much easier to start when they are really young. I have a baby who is about 6 weeks and we will start sleep training her in another two months or so. However, sleep training babies is a bit different because when you start sleep training infants you are still nursing them during the night. I will start placing her in her bed wide awake and have her learn to fall asleep without being snuggled to sleep.
If moms don't want to sleep train their kids that is perfectly fine. That doesn't affect me at all, but please don't shame my choice to sleep train my kids. I just wanted to teach them to go to sleep on their own so that I could get more sleep. I didn't want to spend my nights every single night trying to get kids to fall asleep.