And I'd keep an attentive ear to her cries. Most of the time, there would be a mild escalation of fussing, followed by silence, then a little fussing, then maybe repeat the cycle a few times. If it changed, if it became a frantic cry, then I would go in, pat her on the back and tell her I loved her, help her to calm down (without picking her up if possible), then go back out, and reset the timer for 20 minutes. If she made it to the end of the 20 minutes and was still fighting, then I would go back in and reassess the situation. Did her diaper need changing? Was she warm enough, too warm? How long had it been since she ate? If I determined there was a problem, after correcting it, we'd start the process again. Sometimes a little snuggle and her 'goodnight' song ("Jesus Loves Me") would be all she needed to settle down and go to sleep. But honestly, there were not very many times when she ever made it past the 20 minute mark.
I've had more than one person question me directly about this method, including members of my extended family. I even had one woman tell me, in a very accusing tone of voice, that she had tried to let her child cry, but that it "went against every motherly instinct." Wow. Talk about a condemnation.
I was asked by a well-meaning individual if I'd heard of the Attachment Theory (also known as Attachment Parenting), to which I replied, "Yes, I'm an educator. I got all that in University." But that doesn't mean I agree with it. Smooch was NEVER left unattended. Allowing her to fuss for 20 minutes is not the same as letting a child cry unattended for 'however long it takes for her to give up' -- which could, in fact, lead to a child having attachment issues.
If you're not familiar with the Attachment Theory, here is a very broad take on it: The first 6 months of a child's life are extremely formative, particularly relationally. If a child's cries are not attended to, the child learns that he cannot communicate his felt needs, therefore he does not learn to trust his caregivers, which leads to attachment issues later in childhood. And I would, for the most part, agree with this theory. However, the way most people interpret this is more along the lines of, "if a child's cries are not attended to immediately" ... ... then he will have attachment issues. That's the part I don't buy into.