I have started letting Miles "whine it out" when I put him to bed. It occurred to us recently that we feel ok not responding immediately when Miles whines. We know that nothing is wrong because, for four months, we heard what noise he makes when something is wrong. Everyone on our block heard it. For 100 days. Without stopping.
So now, when he makes this whining sound, if we are mid-cup of tea or nose-blowing or almost at the end of an episode of the Office, we feel pretty forgiven for not running at high speed to see what's going on.
When we put him down for bed or for a nap, he often is asleep at the breast or over the shoulder and then, somewhere in the transfer to his bed, he wakes up and starts whining. We pat his back a bit, tell him everything is ok, that it's time for lovely sleep, and if he's not done whining yet, I'm going to go ahead and admit that I walk out the door, close it, and let him whine it out for a few minutes until he falls asleep.
I wonder if this is what people thought was going on when they would suggest I let Miles cry it out earlier in his life? Because this is totally bearable. I suppose it might sound like crying to some folks, who haven't heard what it sounds like when Miles ACTUALLY cries. There aren't even tears involved in this new whining, let alone stiff back arching and vomit-smearing. This is just limp-bodied, face buried in the hands, tired whining. He usually stops within three or four minutes, becomes totally asleep, and everyone wins.
Every now and then, the whining will turn into actual crying and we get our butts in there before it becomes screaming. But we've learned to tell the difference between the two sounds--or rather Miles has learned to make different sounds.
I think that in teaching us the difference between his desperate need for comfort and just plain whining, Miles has actually set himself up for a tougher path as a toddler or teenager. He showed us his good cards right away, so we know exactly what it sounds like when he is having an emergency. Which means we know what it sounds like when there is nothing actually wrong, too. For the rest of his life, he is totally effed if he is seeking any sort of urgent response from whingy little sleepy sounds.