I am VERY happy to report a BIG success story. With advice from this forum and after reading "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems" I made some big changes which have paid off! My seven month old was not sleeping more than 60 minutes at a time and seemingly had to sleep in bed with me. I was ready to pitch myself out a window (I am barely joking!) But within a week of changing her daytime schedule and practicing PU/PD properly she is sleeping up to 10 hours at a time!
First, the schedule. I had been trying to follow the Gina Ford schedule for quite a while but it was really stressing me out and I found very difficult to follow. I would be constantly referring to the book and getting really worried. After advice on the BW forum, I shifted my LO to being awake at more regular intervals (approximately three hours at a time) and then having more even naps (approx. one-to-two hours at at time) but usually no more than 2.5 hours daytime sleep. I also stretched out her milk feeds as she had turned into a serial-snacker and wouldn't take more than 3/4oz at at time (now her record is 7.5oz). Here is her rough schedule (but note, it does change somewhat day-to-day):
7am wake and milk-feed
8am solids breakfast, after which she has a vigorous play to burn off the energy
10am sleep (with a wind-down beforehand)
11/11.30am wake and milk-feed
12pm solids lunch, again another vigorous play. Usually try and get outside before the next nap.
3.30/4pm awake and milk-feed
5.30pm solids dinner, followed by a play and bath
7/7.30pm bed (with a good 20min wind-down)
then she is usually waking early morning (anywhere between 1-5am) for a dreamfeed
I use the PU/PD method to put her to sleep. Before reading the BW forum, I really thought I would have to resort to CIO, which was rather gut-wrenching to me; I really didn't think I had it in me. But I read how to do PU/PD properly and I really thought it would work for us both. And it did. So usually I will get her drowsy with some cuddles and patting. Then I put her down in her crib. If she mantra-cries and yabbers I don't tend to touch her at all, just sit by the crib. If she goes into crazy scream mode, I pick her up, sometimes shoosh-pat her but it is important I read her mood as sometimes this sends her more crazy. If she starts to back-arch and scream harder I put her back down and let her get it out on her own in the crib; if after a minute she doesn't get it out of her system and shift to a mantra cry then I pick her up again and hit repeat. Often I will just put my hand on her bum, or tummy, just so she knows I am there. When I started the sleep training I would have to PU/PD lots but now I barely do it at all, sometimes I don't even need to; sometimes now she goes down within a minute. And with this method she stays down....I hear her wake up through the night and she has a yabber/mantra cry and puts herself back to sleep without me needing to even go in there. If she does a shrill cry I know she can't put herself back down and go in as she is probably hungry (she usually only shrill cries now after 3am and only once). I should mention I am no longer sleeping in the same room with her; I feel that has made a big difference. I should also mention she is also taking solids now which is also helping her sleep better through the night. Another thing to mention; I had previously been using a pacifier and white noise, along with rocking her and "boobing" her to sleep (yes all the things you are not meant to do!) I went cold-turkey on all of it! I know they say to gradually phase out things, but I was kinda desperate and while it was a little painful those first few days, it was much better than spending 4-6am with her screaming. I found that removing all the aides immediately was key.
So I have gone from my LO not sleeping more than 60 minutes at a time, to sleeping up to 10-hour stretches. All in one week! Yes one week!! I wouldn't believe it myself if it didn't happen to me.