Study Finds Sleep Training Does Not Harm Baby

The latest salvo in the sleep training wars is a study in the journal Pediatrics that shows that sleep training does not causeĀ  emotional damage or attachment issues to babies.

According to the article on CNN, we’re not talking about the old school idea of putting baby down to bed and not returning to the room come hell or high volume screaming. Rather, Australian researchers looked at two different methods of controlled soothing to get babies to sleep on their own:

Preferred strategies include “controlled comforting,” in which parents gradually reduce the amount of time they stay in the room with a crying baby, and “camping out,” which involves sitting or sleeping in the room without picking the baby up.

These methods have produced promising results. A landmark 2007 study from Australia, for instance, found that controlled comforting and camping out reduced the odds of infant sleep problems by 50% and maternal depression by 60%, compared to a control group.

Those who oppose sleep training techniques that involve any crying had cited the fact that the children in the study were only followed until 2 years and it is possible that there are sleep problems or attachment issues that could emerge later in childhood. The follow-up released today puts those fears to rest:

The same research team tracked the mental health, behavior, and stress levels of 326 children from the original study up to age 6, and found no differences between the groups who did and did not follow the bedtime routines.

Nor did the researchers turn up any differences in the quality of the children’s relationships with their parents or the mother’s depression levels, suggesting that the routines have little lasting effect, good or bad, beyond infancy and early toddlerhood.

That should come as a relief to those of us who used some variation of the sleep training techniques in the study. It’s hard not to second guess your choices about sleep whether you train or not. It’s nice to know that whether your employ a variety of sleep training methods or not, your baby’s health and relationship with you won’t be damaged.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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