There is much debate as to whether a child's sleep behavior is nature or nurture. In my opinion, it is a little bit of both. I was blessed with a child who likes to have a good night's sleep as much as I do but at the same time I started "training" her from day one. This is what worked for me:
Read the Book
For my babyshower somebody had bought me a very unassuming paperback book called Babywise. While pregnant and on bed rest I read the book which to some may offer a very rigid regime, to me it pointed out that babies do not know the difference between night and day and it is up to the parent to teach them.
Figure out a Schedule
If you are going to teach your baby the difference between night and day you need to figure out when you want baby in bed and waking up. If you put baby down at 6pm, you can anticipate a very early morning for yourself. My husband and I decided on 8pm as a bedtime for baby and 10pm for ourselves, this gave us two hours of alone time which can be hard to come by.
Create a Routine
Babies need a routine and the book Babywise suggests cycles of diaper change, feeding, wake time followed by nap time - repeated throughout the day. To get into a routine, watch and take note of your baby's needs; how often does he/she eat, soil a diaper etc. Once you have figured out the pattern of your baby's behavior you can create a suitable routine and adapt it to work with what you want to do. My baby was hungry every 2.5 hours and this coincided with her needing a diaper change. Our pattern was, change, feed (during which she would nap - not part of the book recommended way but this worked for us) followed by awake time and repeat every 2.5 hours all day. At night time our baby was tired and would either fall asleep nursing and stay asleep or if we put her down fed and changed, she would fuss for a moment (6 minutes) and drift off.
Don't Worry - Let Baby Cry
If you place your baby in his or her crib, he or she is safe. Our baby will be sleeping in my arms and as soon as I place her onto her cold sheets she opens her eyes and says "WAH" while looking straight at me - I close her door and go downstairs with the monitor off, check the clock and wait ten minutes. With a new baby ten minutes of crying can be excruciating that is why I keep the monitor off and preoccupy myself with dishes or laundry. In ten minutes if the monitor goes on and she is not settled or settling, I will go comfort her and try again. Our baby takes about six minutes to calm herself down. My husband on the other hand cannot leave her to cry and if she is upset he will sit in the dark and rock her for as long as she wants, this is counterproductive to all of my efforts. Be sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to bedtime routines.
When you have a good routine going and baby is sleeping for a few consecutive hours make noise. If you want your baby to be able to sleep through anything do not shut off phones, tvs and radios at night. In fact, vacuum, do dishes, and run the laundry. Baby may wake up the first day or two but he or she will become accustom to there being background noise and you will not have to tiptoe around in the evening.
Don't Give In or Give Up
If you have an established routine try your best to stick to it. Babies are quick to master the art of manipulation and if you give in one time they will know you are weak. Our daughter will whisper "Dada" through the monitor in the middle of the night if she would like some company knowing he is more likely to come. Use your judgment here - you know your baby best, if he or she is teething or sick he or she may need a little extra comfort to settle down.
If your baby won't sleep through the night don't give up, instead nap when baby naps or call a friend of family member so you can take a break. Your baby eventually is going to sleep through the night and you will be the one waking up in a panic to check on him or her.