I think my developing parenting philosophy can be termed informed moderation. I do research, most of which comes from sources I already read like the NYTimes or my friends and family who I also believe are pretty informed. Sometimes I google a specific issue, but it's very hard to find anything of quality in a google search beyond milestones. I also participate in a few internet forums.
Before I tell you about my sleep philosophy, I want to say that my experience listening to others has shown me that most of this comes down to luck. Some babies are sleepers, some are not. But I do believe parents can nudge their baby in one direction or another - just maybe not as far as they may like.
I have no idea what effect the NICU had on Dylan's sleep. He was in a crib for nearly 5 months (always at an incline). Nurses would attend to him if he cried (or I would when I was there), but sometimes this took a short while. That being said - Dylan is not really a crier and especially wasn't during his NICU time. In the NICU he was woken up every three hours with a diaper change, vitals check, and a feeding. Initially that feeding was 100% by tube, and after awhile it was by mouth.
Dylan is 3 months adjusted now - meaning 3 months past his due date - and he's been home for almost 2 months. I would consider him an excellent sleeper and I'm sure I have very little to do with it (besides genetics and loving sleep myself).
I have not tried to impose any sleep schedule upon him, but I have woken him up to eat (although I don't really "wake" him up - he sometimes eats half asleep or almost entirely asleep). Newborns need to eat every 3 hours. You start the time from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next. After your baby has been proven to be gaining weight consistently, you can begin to follow the baby's schedule, especially at night. Most of the babies of the moms in my month group eat every 2 to 2 1/2 hours during the day and most are sleeping through the night. We feed Dylan every 2 to 2 1/2 during the day and let him go 4 hours at night for a total of 10 feedings a day (approximately).
Recently I haven't had to wake Dylan up much, he wakes up for me.
For the first month home I didn't log sleep on Baby Connect because he was pretty much always sleeping. But I started logging it a couple of weeks ago so that I could start to see his patterns and he really does have them! We are definitely not on a 3 nap schedule yet, but he's getting close.
Mr. GG is out of town, so I was single-parenting last night and it was a pretty typical night. I fed Dylan at 11:00 pm. He woke up at 3:30 then at 6:00 am. He's woken up at 6:00 pretty much on the dot for the last week or so. Crazy! He usually falls back to sleep during that feeding and sleeps until 8:30 or so. Then he's up through the next feeding and goes to sleep around 10:30. Throughout the day he sleep in stretches anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and has quite a bit of awake time. He gets fussy in the evening around 7 and usually falls asleep around 8 or 8:30.
During the day Dylan has slept in his Boppy (supervised), swing, car seat, bouncer, crib and on me. I knew that having him sleep 100% on me was not a good idea because of dependency and it also makes it hard to get things done. So when I feel like I need snuggle time - he sleeps on me. Otherwise I put him down. I also try to avoid long stretches in the swing or car seat because I'm paranoid about head shape. It seems like rotating sleep spots is working well. We have also tried to put him in his crib as much as possible now so that he'll be more used to it later. It started out as about once a week. But this week he's been sleeping in his crib about twice a day. (Our room is upstairs on the opposite side of the house as the nursery so it will be quite a while before he sleeps overnight in his room. We will be transitioning from the Rock and Play to the Pack and Play soon.)
How do I get him to sleep in his crib? I put him down asleep or almost asleep. If he fusses, I stay next to him and shush him without touching him. If he's sleepy, but awake, I put on his mobile which he is mesmerized by. Sometimes I'll stay and sit in the glider until he falls asleep. I also swaddle him when he's in his crib even though he doesn't need it in the RnP. If he were to really cry, I would take him out and try something else.
Dylan does not seem to mind the crib at all. I put him in there frequently when I need to go to the bathroom and he's never had a crying fit in it. And I know that we are no where near the hardest sleep age. But I'm trying to get him comfortable and used to things now.
I'm not opposed to "Cry it out." I may try it when we get there, but I'm hoping by familiarizing Dylan with sleeping in his crib in a positive way that we can avoid it. My sister read a ton about sleep (my nephew is 9 months now) and decided that she did not like not being able to rock her son to sleep. So she did, then put him in his crib, then gently woke him up so that he was able to fall asleep on his own and know that he was in a safe place. That worked well for her when he was little. Now he naps twice a day and she does a Modified CIO. She lets him cry for a specified number of minutes and then goes back in if he hasn't stopped when she hits that time. After the first couple of days of this, he almost always stops crying (and falls asleep) before the first limit is reached. (The limits are something like 5 minutes or 8 minutes. I can ask her if you'd like.)
I don't think there is any magic philosophy and what works for one of your children may not work for the next (so I've heard).
My personal keys are to:
1) follow your baby's lead
2) listen to your gut
3) be flexible
I'll be curious to see how much things change in the next few months. I'll keep you updated!
And if you are being driven insane by your lo's sleep habits, I'm sorry! Hang in there and don't believe for a second that I don't know that I'm just lucky - not specially skilled. I hate when people preach about what you should do to make x happen when really their kid was just born that way.
Have I shown you this one yet? It's from our newborn session. I love it : )