It's a liberating feeling when you can finally put your child to bed at night while they're still awake. I realize that some people do this from the beginning with their children or use the "Ferber Method." I did neither. My son just didn't work that way. When Luc drank his bottle at night he would always fall asleep. I wasn't about to wake him up and THEN put him to bed.
When the power of the bottle-induced sleep stopped, my husband and I had to start making some decisions.
The first thing we did was develop a routine. Babies thrive in routine because they like the security in knowing "what comes next." So every night was the same; dinner, bath, a little quiet time with Mom in "Mommy's" bed, and then we call for Daddy. Dad had the honors of putting him in bed awake. (I'm really a sucker for tears) Well, that was the plan anyway.
We started this at around 8 months old. By 8 Months he would go to bed awake for his nap with no trouble, but, night-time was another issue.
The first night was horrible. My husband and I sat huddled in the livingroom biting our fingernails and constantly asking each other, "what should we do?" He screamed for 2 hours and finally we couldn't take it anymore. I took him out of his crib and rocked him to sleep. I pretty much figured we were doomed to a life of this since all the books (and Moms at Mommy & Me) told us we were.
Instead of doing the method where you let them scream each night until they learn that you're not coming back and they pass out from exhaustion (oh god I hate the very thought of that). I decided to try putting him to bed awake every once in a while.. every few days or so. Sometimes it actually worked and Luc would play with his toys and then finally fall asleep. Sometimes he'd cry and I'd go get him. By 10 months old he was going to bed each night awake without tears.
If you get out your calculator you'll see that we started this at 8 months and he wasn't able to go to bed on his own until 10 months, so it took 2 months rather than a week or so with the more popular methods.
Here's what I think. I'm the Mommy. I don't want my son to EVER learn that I don't come to him when he cries. I like my gentle method better than the quicker "rip the bandaid" approach. Am I wrong? Did I screw up somewhere? Oh I'm sure in 20 years or so my son will be on a couch telling some therapist that I never pushed him enough or I protected him too much. For me, it was about TEACHING my son that he could go to bed by himself at night safe in the knowledge that Mommy and Daddy were just outside the room.