Hunter is getting so good at falling asleep on his own. And we never resorted to crying it out. When I put him in his crib, awake, if he starts squalling and doesn't settle down within a couple minutes with a toy or his musical mobile, then I pick him up and we go back and try to rock. But recently he hasn't been interested in rocking, and he squirms a lot and is sometimes pretty fussy. And yet after a little playing in his crib he falls asleep all by himself.
What I find so extraordinary about this is that so much of the reading that I did on sleep training was that if you don't let your baby learn to self soothe you'll be rocking him or her to sleep forever. What seemed more important to me was that my son knew that in his distress I would be there to comfort him. He has never cried himself to sleep. I don't want him to learn that I won't come when he cries, or condition him not to cry because it won't bring mommy. I want him to know that when he needs me I will come, to trust that I will be there for him.
I know there are people on both sides of this fence, and I worried about the criticism that I was going to make Hunter dependent on props, but being loving, comforting, and consoling has accomplished our ultimate goal: he falls asleep on his own. And I'm not scarred for life by letting him cry and not responding. And if he does have a night when he wants to be rocked to sleep, who am I to deny him that? There are days that I want cuddles too. I'm more than happy to rock and cuddle him those nights. There are nights that I don't want to put him down at all, even after he falls asleep. The relationship between parent and child is so special, and I feel like sometimes we get wrapped up in the rest of life and get too rushed with our kids. They are going to grow up and leave us before we know it. Childhood is the practice of leaving mom and dad and standing on your own two feet. So why are we in such a hurry to put our children down? Yes, I do it too. Sometimes things just need to get done. But there are also times that I let him fall asleep in my arms, and hold him until he wakes up again. Because sometimes we both need it.