I asked, and you guys answered! It was great to hear from so many parents with different philosophies, perspectives and experiences. Parents with babies, parents with toddlers, parents with big kids - each stage brings its own challenges and rewards. And it looks like a lot of us, while not in exactly the same boat, have experienced a ride on the sea of sleeplessness.
Many parents used some version of Cry-It-Out, or the Ferber method.
"Ferber all the way to the letter. I had to go on our front stoop to stop myself from going in before the permitted time. I think the silence no conversation part is hard also but super effective. You can't negotiate with terrorists or they win!" Simone, mom to Marley and Seeger
[On deciding to start Ferber:} "I made it another week and then I was like - you know what? One of us is gonna cry for an hour, and I think it's her turn." - Kathryn, mom to Leo and Josie
"Archer was kind of a complete nightmare. He went through a four month regression (not that it was great before that) and never got past it and was waking up SO MUCH and was so hard to put down. I think we briefly tried a graduated CIO method, but it seemed immediately clear that us going in only upset him more, so we went against what I had been so anti with Amelia and just did full on extinction. We slept on an air mattress in our living room for an excruciating two weeks while he cried in our room." Lauren, mom to Amelia and Archer
Other parents co-slept.
"My approach is generally just do what feels right for me and my kids. It's liberating. We co-slept forever. We tried to let them go it on their own. Lots of tears and frustration. We gave up. My 7 year old recently announced he wants to sleep on his own and does so after we read him a book. It's so great to celebrate his decision and accomplishment. And of course now all I want to do is snuggle with him after an awful day in the office. Hah!" Jennifer, mom to Christian and Alexander
"Isaiah was a terrible sleeper. For the first two years of his life I could only put him to sleep by walking around with him in the ergo or driving him around. We had a crib which he never slept in for one single night. He coslept/nurse-slept with Carey and then when he was weaning he coslept with me. He would wake up multiple times every night." - Dan, dad to Isaiah
A couple called in the experts.
Several parents swore by Lacey (lababydoula.com); another mom got results after taking an online course from Taking Cara Babies.
Dealing with toddlers brings its own set of complications, especially if you add another baby to the mix.
"Jojo was an excellent sleeper until she figured out how to get out of her crib. We tried "cry it out," but she would come out of her room. We put a doorknob lock on, but she would scream and pound on the door, so we stopped that. We tried punishment, reward, bribes. Nothing would work. She slept in our bed many nights, which was just easier for all of us. Last November we decided to put her in the same room with her big sister. She still woke up in the middle of the night, but it gradually got better." - Judith, mom to Amelie and Jojo
"At some point after Josie was born, [Leo] got used to sleeping in our bed and I can't deal with extinction CIO when he's old enough to be like, "Mama, please help me!" so I did the camping out thing. I sat next to his crib while he cried and said soothing things like "Mama is here. It's time for bed. I love you." Then I'd sit across the room. Then the door. Finally we got to this point where I'm like "if you lay down I will rub your back. If you stand up in the crib, I have to leave." Now it's like 50/50 whether he will go down easily or cry, but he cries for 2 minutes then lays down and I rub his back." - Kathryn
"When Marley went into the toddler bed those ferberizing sessions were so much fun. I used to pick her up (mind you she wasn't light) put her in bed turn my back to her and face the door and just repeat. Sometimes she would take all her stuffies and put them at the door and fall asleep on top of them and I counted that as success. Weirdly my kids never figured out that they could open the door and come out they would always just yell for us." Simone
"We did the Supernanny technique. Basically one night I put Samantha down over 100 times till she collapsed. Dan thought I was crazy, but once we started the battle, we had to win the war. The next night she was up eight times. The next night, two times. Then she gave up." - Jennifer, mom to Samantha and Josh
"As they got older, I refused to ever fight about bedtime. If I have to chase a kid at bedtime, the night is over - no books, no songs, nothing. I put them into bed however they are dressed, gave a hug and kiss, and walked away. After that happened a few times they knew I meant it and now the two year old might whine - but he whines while he's walking to his room for bedtime." - Laura, mom of three
It's also not just bedtime - there's the middle of the night wakings too.
"When we moved Amelia into a big kid bed, it coincided with potty training. So we've dealt with her coming out of her room repeatedly after putting her down and waking us up to go potty. The former has gotten better-ish. We just try not to engage much and just march her back to bed. We also of course make threats related to losing toys and such, because we are tired and nothing else sometimes works. As for the potty thing, she CAN go by herself but likes the company. We try to really remember to make her go before bedtime and not give her liquids too late into the evening." - Lauren
"When Colin was two years old and James was a baby it was very hard to get them to sleep at the same time and I always struggled with it. James woke up with night terrors when he was two years old and for about a year would either wake up hungry or screaming or super frustrated that he was woken up or that his sleep was disrupted. Not to mention that living in an apartment is not conducive to sleep training anyone. I always found it so hard to find a quiet space for either of them." - Shelly, mom to Colin and James
And perspective is always a good thing to keep in mind. As it seems with everything kid-related, this, too, shall pass.
"I miss the snuggles. They grow up way too fast to worry about sleeping habits." - Jennifer
"It sucks and it will suck for many years. I wish that when I was going through this, I was less judgmental of myself and my skills at sleep training. It will get better, it will get worse. Have a glass of wine, and just accept the suckiness." - Judith
"I wish I could say that sleep seems like a consistent thing, but it always changes. Colin was a horrible sleeper as a baby, only took 20 minute naps and now he sleeps through the night and pretty well." - Shelly
Bottom line: as many people pointed out, there's no one "right" answer. What works for one family won't necessarily work for another, and even what works on one kid might not work on their sibling/s (as we've definitely discovered). But whatever tack you choose, there's someone else out there making a similar choice. We might be sleep deprived, but at least we have each other. (Also, "Have a glass of wine, and just accept the suckiness" is great life advice, not just for sleep training!)
Thanks to everyone for sharing! If you have a sleep story of your own, please share in the comments!
L:et Them Nap! print by A Little Leafy, available at society6.com.
Eating, working, mothering and adventuring in Brooklyn and beyond.