Time to assess how this is working. Let's start with night sleep - because that's what's most important, I think.
For three nights in a row now, Abbey has gone to sleep sometime between 6 and 6:45 pm and slept through the night. If you consider sleeping until 4:30 am sleeping through the night. Which she, apparently, does. But I'll take it. That's about 10 hours without a feeding, and the kiddo is hungry. So, although I'm a bit disgruntled about having to drag my ass out of bed at that wicked hour, it's necessary. She also goes back to sleep immediately afterward and sleeps to 6-6:30 am. That's a win. Unfortunately, Mom is awake and can't catch the extra Zzz's.
But still - a BIG improvement. So, in the category of night sleep, I whole-heartedly recommend the "crying-it-out" method. Listening to your baby cry is not easy - but it's harder on the parent, I believe, than the baby. And it only took two nights for Abbey to figure it out. She's now waking up happy in the morning, and well rested, and we're getting sleep, and all of that is good, good, good.
Here's where I say, "Stop the bus, I want to get off." Naps. Abbey has never really been the best napper. While I can definitely see that a natural nap schedule is starting to evolve in her, it's not solid. The Weissbluth approach to nap training is not working for her. At least not right now. Yesterday, she cried for an hour solid for both her morning and afternoon nap, and never fell asleep. That is, until, I rescued her, cried a little myself for torturing my baby so, rocked her back to sleep, and put her down in either her swing or pack 'n play. If she was in her swing, I turned the motion off after she fell asleep. And in both cases she slept for 30-40 minutes. I'll take it. I'll take that over the hour-long wailing. I have to.
My research on the subject is telling me this: at four and a half months old, she's just not ready yet for a structured nap schedule. The sleep development centers of the brain are different for napping versus night sleep. The morning nap develops first - usually around five months. So, we're still a bit shy of being ready for that. And so, abandon ship. We're going to loosen up on the whole nap thing, and take what we can get however we can get it during the day while sticking to the program for night sleep. The new goal is to maximize the total amount of day sleep we can, any way we can.
So, as I type this, Abbey is just starting to drift off in her swing. Tear free. For what I hope will be a nice, long, morning snooze.
And thus concludes our sleep/nap training. At least for now. I'm sure I'll be revisiting this subject in the weeks, months, and years to come - until she leaves the house for college.