I bought this book, but got through only the first couple of chapters as I found the approach preachy, unconvincing, and it didn't seem to speak to the experience I was having.
Having asked lots of people for advice, read parts of various books, and having read a lot of Amazon online discussions, I have finally hit on a solution that I can live with. I'd like to share it as it may give support and encouragement to others.
I want to be clear that I know that my experience is very limited, I have no certainty whether my approach would work with many other children, and most important, I don't judge people who do things differently.
Here's what's been going on. Two months ago, I adopted a 6-month-old child. I'm a single dad with no previous experience with babies. I didn't have much information about his sleep patterns, but I later learned that his previous experience was feeding to sleep and if he didn't fall asleep after the bottle was done, he was allowed to cry it out. This worked: when he came to me, he was sleeping through the night.
Lacking any experience with babies and with little information about him, and wanting to maximize our bonding and minimize his distress, I started responding to his every cry. I discovered that I could sometimes overcome his penchant for fighting sleep by holding him until fell asleep. Because he wouldn't tolerate a bumpy transfer from my arms to the crib, I quickly realized that I was physically incapable of dangling myself over a crib to transfer him smoothly, which I was often having to do repeatedly.
So I started putting him to bed on a queen size mattress on the floor because it was easier to hold him on my chest and then roll gently to transfer him. I also tried transferring him from an Ergo carrier, but that was also physically difficult and usually didn't work.
Still, this approach was often taking an hour for him to get to sleep- and that's counting from after we had lain down, after the bath and bottle. This hour was a lot of him alternating between being grumpy and frustrated and entertaining himself by playing with his feet and vocalizing. So this was taking too much time, and I also realized that once he could start moving I wanted him in the crib (although I've also considered getting a twin or large-chair size futon for the floor - so long as the room is childproofed, this is perfectly safe - there's nowhere to fall and no crevices to get caught in, and it allows me to lay down next to him).
All my reading convinced me that holding him to sleep was a losing proposition since it was both physically taxing and took a lot of time. (I know a lot of people say that this prevents them from learning to fall back asleep by themselves when they wake up at night ... while this may be true, when I was holding/rocking him to sleep I did not find that he was waking up and demanding being held to fall back asleep.)
I started running low on patience and was feeling that I was at my limit. So I tried the cry it out method for one night and one naptime the following day. I used the standard approach: come back after 5 minutes, then 10, then 15. He cried for about 45 minutes that first night.
I did not like this. I had never heard him in such distress. When he screamed during the naptime on the second day, I aborted the approach and haven't tried it since. I just didn't feel right about it. Again, I'm not judging - I just didn't want to go through with it, even though I know that it can often be completed in just a few days and that there's no evidence that the kids are harmed. I can say that I felt emotionally distant from him for a day or two afterwards. Perhaps I was imagining it, but I felt that the extreme crying brought some coolness and detachment into our relationship.
So I was committed now to staying in the room while he fell asleep. I created a ritual, which consists of a bath, then while seated in a glider, I feed him from a bottle as I tell him what we did that day, and I sing the same two songs to him. Before he's done feeding, I put him on his back in the bed and hold the bottle for him. Alongside is the special blanket he uses to rub on his face and settle himself to sleep. (My pediatrician tells me not to worry that feeding on his back could cause an ear infection, though my dentist wants me to start cleaning his teeth after feeding or giving him some water to rinse -- I haven't started with this yet.)
After time, I realized that though he seemed to want to be picked up, my touching him was sometimes stimulating him and preventing him from falling asleep. So rather than touching him a lot, I switched to putting my hand on his stomach for maybe 10 seconds and saying "shhhhh," and repeating this perhaps every 5 minutes.
It still wasn't working. Maybe 2 nights out of 3 he would fall asleep at the 7 pm bedtime. The other times it could take an hour to fall asleep, a time when he would be grunting and whimpering in frustration.
So I made a simple change. Since he just didn't seem to want to go to bed at 7 pm, I moved his bedtime from 7 pm to 8 pm. He now takes between 0 and 10 minutes to settle down and fall asleep after he's done with the bottle. Then I leave the room. It was that simple.
I can live with this. There's no drama. Yes - he sometimes grunts and whimpers a little. Sometimes this sounds like frustration (I think he doesn't want to miss out on the fun of being up), but I've made peace with not rescuing him from some necessary frustration. Mostly the sounds he makes are him settling himself. I don't sense any anxiety or distress. I have noticed that it can be hard to distinguish the sounds of frustrations with the sounds of a bowel movement, so I've taken to checking his diaper more frequently, as he often has a bowel movement after a feeding, rather than just assuming that he's frustrated because he doesn't want to go to sleep.
Now he was still waking for feedings most nights, at around 1 am and 5 am. It wasn't a big deal for me - I was able to go back to sleep, so I wasn't sleep deprived. But my pediatrician advised me that the 1 am feeding was probably giving him more calories than he needed. So I've started giving him cereal after the bath but before the final bottle, and I try to keep him awake to get as much formula into him as possible before he falls asleep. I've also started decreasing the amount of the 1 am feeding - I'm down to 3 ounces and plan to decrease it to zero, or perhaps to switch to diluted formula which eventually is just water. He's already waking less often, and I'd say now about half the time he is sleeping through the night, other times waking up at 5 am and then going back to sleep, and only occasionally still waking around 1am.
So there it is. It took a few weeks of trial and error, but bed and naptimes are now drama-free. He's going to sleep because he wants to go to sleep, and I get a wonderful feeling being there with him as he falls asleep. He continues to confirm my impression of him that he's a reasonable and respectful little guy: when he cries, it's because he needs something. So now when I'm baffled at his crying, I always run through five questions: Is his diaper clean (take a peek); is he hungry (offer food); is he hurt or afraid (make him comfortable/soothe him); is he tired (put him to bed); does he feel neglected (try to give him a few seconds or minutes of my attention if I can).