One of the BIG divides in looking after babies, and particularly in regards to getting them to sleep, is the controlled crying vs attachment parenting debate. These are two diametrically opposed approaches to parenting. This is a really simplified discription:
Controlled Crying - your baby should be in a routine that you control, not them. You decide, by the clock, when to feed them and when they should go to sleep. They can be trained to go to sleep and stay asleep all night by letting them 'cry it out' - i.e. leave them to cry, checking on them and calming them at regular intervals, until they give up and go to sleep. The often heard promise of this approach is "It only takes 3 nights of pain and they'll be sleeping all night".
Attachment Parenting - your baby needs you. Full stop. They should be fed on demand and sleep when they show 'tired signs'. They should never, ever be left to cry.
Controlled crying advocates think attachment parenting people are wusses who could solve all their sleep problems with a few short nights hard work. People who do it admit to feeling like the worst parents in the world, but it apparently works! Attachment parenting people think those who control cry are practicing child abuse.
My problem with controlled crying is that it goes badly against my instincts to let my baby cry it out. I personally would prefer to get less sleep than fight my instincts on this one. I think Hamish is too little to learn a routine, and his crying is needs based, not manipulative at this stage. Also, he doesn't know he's meant to be following a schedule, and therefore totally ignores my attempts to squeeze him into one.
On the other hand, my problem with attachment parenting is that it is exhausting, and doesn't allow for the needs of the parents. My other main problem with it is that, quite simply, I can't identify Hamish's cries. I don't always know if he's hungry, or tired, or in pain, or whatever. To be honest, a lot of the time it just sounds like plain old crying.
So - if I try to follow controlled crying, I feel like a loser because I can't get my baby into the routines. If I try to follow attachment parenting, I feel like a loser because I can't indentify my baby's signals and therefore meet his needs.
As you may be guessing, it's very easy to feel like a loser here.
So what to do? I've found following a basic schedule works for me - I aim to feed him every 3 - 4 hrs, and put him to bed when he's rubbing his eyes and yawning.
That probably sounds like it's really straightforward and obvious, but trust me when I say it's taken a good 6 or 7 months to feel comfortable with doing it this way.
And it's very easy to say "just do what works for you" but when you're new to parenting and nothing actually seems to be working that's a bit of a challenge. It's natural to seek out 'experts' but unfortunately that can be like entering a minefield, blindfolded and barefoot - you don't know what you're getting into!
Exhausted? Foggy Brain? Overwhelmed or Anxious? is It Postnatal Depletion? - "Postnatal depletion can happen whether this is your first baby or a subsequent child and this depletion can be an accumulative process – you conceive a ...