As any parent of an infant will tell you- sleep is a precious thing. So, what’s the best way to get your baby to sleep through the night? There are many ways to help baby drop off to dreamland, but two of the most common had researchers wondering if there might be long-term harm resulting from these techniques.
Turns out, they was nothing to worry about.
The study tested two methods; graduated extinction and bedtime fading.
Graduated extinction is more commonly known as controlled-crying or letting baby cry his or herself to sleep while learning how to self-soothe without parental involvement
Bedtime fading is keeping baby awake longer to help them drop of more quickly.
Researchers discovered that both techniques work and neither had any long-term negative effects.
The graduated extinction approach also showed babies waking up fewer times during the night.
Parents worry about the controlled-crying method, in particular, according to study leader Michael Gradisar, a clinical psychologist at Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia.
With that technique, parents resist the urge to immediately respond to their baby’s nighttime cries, so he or she can learn to self-soothe. Some parents worry that will damage their baby emotionally, and possibly cause "attachment" problems or other issues in the long run, Gradisar explained.
But, he said, his team found no evidence that was the case.
For the study, the researchers randomly assigned parents of 43 babies to one of three groups: one that started practicing controlled crying; one that took up bedtime fading; and a third, "control" group that was just given information on healthy sleep.
The babies ranged in age from 6 months to 16 months. All had a "sleep problem," according to their parents.
Parents in the controlled-crying group were given a basic plan: When their baby woke up crying during the night, they had to wait a couple of minutes before responding. They could then go comfort, but not pick up, the baby.
Over time, parents gradually let their baby cry for longer periods before responding.
Bedtime fading is a "gentler" approach, according to Gradisar: The aim is to help babies fall asleep more quickly by putting them down later.
Parents in that study group were told to delay their baby's bedtime for a few nights -- to 7:15 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., for instance. If the baby was still having trouble falling asleep, bedtime could be pushed back another 15 minutes.
After three months, the researchers found, babies in both sleep-training groups were falling asleep faster when their parents put them down -- between 10 and 13 minutes faster, on average. On the other hand, there was little change in the control group.
A year after the study's start, children in the three groups had similar rates of behavioral and emotional issues. They were also similar in their "attachment" to their parents -- which was gauged during standard tests at the research center.
Experts say that infants are usually able to sleep longer through the night, as they get a little older. By the age of 6 months, 80 percent of infants sleep all night. By 9 months, about 90 percent do.
If your baby doesn’t seem to be able to sleep through the night by those ages, contact your pediatrician to see if your little one may have a problem that needs checking out.
Story source: Amy Norton, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160524/what-really-works-to-help-baby-sleep