You know what I think is funny about the comments on sleep posts here?
That different posts totally bring out commenters with different situations. Some posts draw tons of "try co-sleeping!" comments. Some draw "read Pantley!" comments. Some draw "read Ferber!" comments. Some draw "do CIO!" comments.
Which just goes to show you (or me, at least), that there is no one right answer for everyone. I've been fumbling toward trying to find some classification system so that we could make some kind of checklist and you could observe different aspects of your kid and then know which "method" (can you really call anything that makes you cry at 3 am a method?). Wouldn't that be awesome? Observe and answer these 50 questions about your kid, and then you'll know exactly how to proceed. (The "tension increaser" vs. "tension decreaser" observation was the first step in my plan for a taxonomy of sleep personalities and issues.)
Unfortunately, all we have to go on now is trying to figure out exactly what the problem is (going to sleep initially? staying asleep? nursing at night? waking early? all of the above?) and then trying different things to fix it until you either find something that works or pack the kid off to boarding school.
Remember that there are tons of things to try before you resort to doing something that isn't in your comfort zone (I'd put co-sleeping and true CIO--letting the child cry alone until s/he falls asleep no matter how long it takes--in those category of things that people might not be comfortable with). The Ferber method (not that he made it up, of course, but no one's great-great-great-great-great-great grandma wrote a book about it) of allowing the baby to cry for short chunks of time and then going in to check and make contact is one of them. In fact, the surefire way to tell if your baby is a tension decreaser who needs to cry some to fall asleep is to walk out and let the baby cry for 5-10 minutes and see what happens. That sounds a lot like Ferber to me. (If the baby starts to lose steam and quiet down, you've got a tension decreaser.)
If you've got the baby in the same room with one of you, try switching who the baby's with. A baby who nurses all night on mom might sleep the whole night through with dad. If the baby's in the same room, try switching the baby to a different room. Or vice versa.
In other words, if the pattern is bad, figure out exactly what part is bad, and try changing the structure of it. Sometimes just small changes will break the pattern.
The other thing that's really important to know is that no matter what you do, it's not going to stick. If you sleep train, you'll have to do it again, after sleep regressions and big teething spurts. If you co-sleep, you'll have to re-evaluate every time your kid goes through some developmental spurt and starts kicking you in the kidneys all night. So don't feel too smug or too desperate, because there's always someone better off and worse off than you are right now.
Anyone want to post something that either helped or hurt your kid's sleep that surprised you?
I'll go first.
Son #1: Went through a phase around the age of 2 in which he'd go to sleep just fine, but would then wake up screaming an hour later. It took a few weeks, but eventually we figured out that he was having heartburn/indigestion from eating tomato products at dinner! We put the kibosh on all tomatoes after 3 pm, and he stopped waking that first night.
Son #2: Wanted to nurse all night long with me. I went to sleep out on the couch and left him sleeping with his dad and he slept the whole night through. Occam's Razor in action: if I was there, he'd nurse; if I was gone, he wouldn't.
Now you go.