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Sleep Training Success Linked to Parents' Attitudes

1055569383_7254689907_m2A new study just published by Today’s Parent says that sleep training methods work better if the parents using them have the right attitiude.

This is particularly true for the “controlled crying” method advocated by Ferber and a few other sleep experts. What Today’s Parent found was that parents who feel Ok about letting their kids cry get better results with these methods:

On average, those who believed their child would feel abandoned or get even more upset if they didn’t respond quickly reported less success with sleep training. Conversely, those who believed it was OK to let their child cry at night for sleep-training purposes, and who were able to resist their child’s nighttime demands, tended to be more successful.

The researchers also found that most parents try to follow sleep training techniques recommended by experts. Night waking is a problem for almost every new family, and in general they use the same basic tricks:

  • sticking to a stable bedtime routine
  • structuring the day to promote good sleep habits
  • some kind of controlled crying method

Parents who had their partners and friends supporting them did better with solving their sleep issues than those who were going it alone. Overall, even though nearly everyone uses these

This is hardly surprising, but it agrees entirely with my experience as a mom. I’ve co-slept with both my babies, and have never been able to tolerate listening to them scream at night. I’ve often wishes that I was less of a touchy-feely hippie Mama and a little more cool and collected about putting them down in a crib and walking away. Usually I’ve wished that around 3 a.m. Of course by then it’s far too late to transform myself into some Other, Better Mom. I’ve got to work with what I’ve got, which is a soft heart.

One little ray of light for me in their study: the vast majority of parents said their babies were calm or happy upon waking, while fewer than one in five reported having an infant who started howling at full fever pitch before they were even awake. My first kid was definitely in that unhappy minority, and those parents found little love in any sleep training technique. Apparently, sometimes, you just have to ride it out.

What’s worked for you? Did you co-sleep forever or let ‘em cry it out? How important was your attitude in getting your kid to sleep?

Photo: Brandon Baunach

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