We've been lucky that Asher has slept through the night since he was three months old. Obviously, sleep is good, for the kid and for his harried parents. So far, so good.
Ah, but a kid can unlearn. California was choppy, on account of jet lag, different activities, and a new sleep setting. And, since we've been back, Asher's been up and down when it comes to sleeping through the night.
It culminated in him waking up in the middle of the night four nights in a row. By the end of this run, Amy and I were absolute zombies. Both of us were sick at the time, which didn't help.
Ever resourceful, Amy turned to the Internet to try to get a handle on what to do. It turns out that babies do in fact require different approaches for different stages in their development. Seems obvious, but for us this was a bolt of lightning. What worked for Asher before was to fall asleep getting his last bottle of the night, and if he was full enough and dry enough he'd make it to the morning.
It turns out that even back then he was waking up in the middle of the night, but was able to go back to sleep. But now that he's older, he is able to remember where he was when he was last awake. Waking up in bed, rather than in his parent's arms, is a shock, enough so to sound the alarm. As Amy puts it, it's like going to bed for the night and then waking up on the front lawn.
So what Asher needs now is to go to bed awake, and fall asleep in bed. Since he's not used to this, this is going to mean letting him cry a bit. The first night we tried this, he cried for 15 minutes, after which I went in to pat him on the butt and let him know everything was OK. That calmed him down, but once I left the room again he started crying again. After 15 more minutes, he got quiet, and not long after that he was asleep. And, hallelujah, he made it through the night.
Even better, when he did wake up, we gave him a bottle, he rubbed his eyes, and then we put him back into his crib. He protested a little bit but then fell back asleep. And slept through the night.
The next night, he protested far shorter. And slept through the night again. And, just like that, the fog of waking up to Asher crying four nights in a row had lifted. Whew!