Despite my best intentions when he was little, I have ended up sitting in with DS at bedtime while he goes to sleep, just like I did with his older sister - sigh!
He's now 18mo and taking longer and longer to go to sleep. And hour and 20 minutes tonight - ridiculous. I remember it getting like this with DD and eventually and reluctantly, but out of sheer desperation, left her to cry it out for a few evenings. It sorted it out pretty quickly, but I hated doing it.
I'd love to avoid that if I can this time, but can't think of another solution. I can't work out how gradual retreat would be any better, because if I'm not sitting there stroking his head, he'll be crying anyway, so it would be just the same just with him being more frustrated that I'm there but not doing what he wants.
I feel your pain! My 20mo DD is ridiculous with her sleep at the moment.
We did CC (not CIO!) at 14mo and it worked perfectly, barring a couple of blips, teething, etc. Then a couple of weeks ago she had a horrible cold and ended up in bed with us most nights. We did CC again and it worked in that she stays in her cot, but takes AGES to go to sleep and is still up in the night.
She keeps sitting up to check I'm still sitting on the floor. I used to be able to leave her and she'd sing herself to sleep. I miss that.
Exit - do you mean ready to sleep? I'm pretty sure he must be. I put him down between 6:30 & 7. He's not a great napper - normally does 45mins to an hour waking around 1, sometimes earlier, which I don't think is a lot at this age. So I feel he must be tired enough for bedtime, but he never has given very clear sleepy signals (or I'm not good at reading them!?