The Long Goodbye
The gist: Gradually sitting farther and farther from your baby at bedtime slowly breaks her dependence on you.
Why it's right for you:
- Your baby takes a while to adjust to change or tends to get more hysterical the longer she cries.
- You can't bear to hear her crying.
- You're ready for some time to yourself.
How to pull it off: Put your baby in her crib while she's sleepy but still awake, and then sit in a chair next to her. If she fusses, gently pat her back or head, or offer verbal reassurance, such as "It's okay, Mommy's here." "Respond to her cry, but pick her up only if she gets hysterical," says Kim West, author of Good Night, Sleep Tight. Once she's calm but before she drifts off, put her down again and sit back in your chair. Leave the room only after she's asleep, and repeat these steps if she wakes up during the night. Perform this method consistently - with your chair next to the baby's crib - for the next three days at bedtime, as well as at naptime. On the fourth night, move your chair about halfway across your baby's room, and on the seventh, sit in the doorway. Do this for three nights, and then sit in view in the hallway for three nights. In about ten days, your baby may be sleeping through the night on her own.
What moms say: The first night Mary Beth Hess tried the method with her 4-month-old daughter, Rosalie screamed and cried for an hour and a half. "It was torturous," the Davidsonville, Maryland, mom admits. The next night, her baby was asleep in ten minutes. "I think this method worked so well because it's gentle," says Hess. "Having me in her room really gave both of us a chance to get comfortable with self-soothing."