The Delayed Gratification Approach
Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, MD, a well-known child development expert in the United States and author of many parenting books, recommends parents develop bedtime rituals that are conducive to sleep, such as a reading a quiet story, listening to soothing music, and taking a warm bath.
He does not recommend letting babies cry it out, but does suggest parents not jump at their baby's first cry or whimper. Parents who interact with the baby at the first cry don't give the baby time to develop his or her own settling strategies. Instead of being the solution, parents who respond too quickly can actually become part of the problem.
Dr. Brazelton recommends letting the child fuss for just a few minutes, to see if she'll settle on her own, before comforting her. "As I see it," says Dr. Brazelton, "the task for parents is to develop a supportive bedtime ritual and to learn not to jump at the first whimper. And to help the baby discover his own style of settling himself back down into sleep."
There are parents who swear by each of these sleep techniques, but you may need to try out a few before you find the one that works for your baby. While it may take some work to establish a healthy sleep routine, the payoff will be worth it for your whole family.