I am lucky. Grace slept through the night at 5 weeks old---well, she slept for a straight 6 hours that night---enough to count as "through the night". Since then, I can recall 1, maybe 2, nights that she has woken us up in the middle of the night. That chicken pox vaccine really upset her and she got a raging fever and spent at least an hour or two screaming in the middle of the night. Otherwise, I have the perfect child when it comes to sleep.
A typical evening at our house: Come home from day care at 5:30, play with Mommy and Daddy, eat dinner at 6:30, bath time at 7:00 pm, and in bed by 7:30 pm. When you ask Grace if she is ready for bed, she says "Yea" and walks to the crib, pulls her blankie out, gives hugs and kisses, and then she lays down to sleep. Next time we hear from her is in the morning. About 7 am everyday, you can hear her in the crib talking to her baby doll, singing songs, and laughing. Like I said earlier, I have the perfect baby.
A friend of mine asked, "How do you get these little ones to sleep!?". I have no idea! As we approach each stage of development with Grace, I read everything I can and spend hours on the 'net (love BabyCenter.com Tips and Parents.com Tips) trying to find the tips and tools of the trade. There are countless books in the "Baby" section of Barnes and Nobles but after flipping through them and reading the basic philosophies of each book, I just didnt find one that I totally agreed with. She is my baby and there was no way I was going to sit back and listen to Grace cry night after night. After the first week of being home with Grace, we realized that sharing our bed with the baby was not for us.
Looking back, I think the key to our success is consistency. Bedtime rarely wavers, the night routine is the same, and Grace's nap schedule made it clear from the beginning what night and day meant (day=play, night=sleep). Naptime at day care during the week is 12:45-2:45. Even is she doesnt sleep, Grace has to have "quiet time" during those times. We have adopted the same theory at home. Each night, we go through the same routine so that Grace knows it is time to calm down and sleep. She has her blankie and her baby doll. We try to keep those things in her crib and not let her take them all over the house with her (cuts down on those frantic searches each night!) though blankie finds a way to get downstairs sometimes. Those things are her comforts. Babies need to know how to self-soothe themselves when they wake up but we as parents should help them find some methods to do this---blankie does it for Gracie. She cries some nights when we turn off the light and leave the room but unless she is still screaming 20 minutes later, we let her cry it out. Most nights, she cries for 10 minutes and is fast asleep shortly after.
So, to my friends out there with babies who dont sleep, I am not an expert by any means but these things worked for me. Be consistent. Let the baby know you love them, will be there in the morning, and that you are in charge (easier said than done, I know!). Hope these pieces of advice help someone!