Despite the negativity surrounding letting your baby "cry it out", research has proven that it is an effective and harmless method for providing babies and parents a full night's rest!
Parents everywhere know the struggle and hardships associated with getting a full night’s rest. Not just for themselves, but for their newborn, or young baby. For years, parents have been trying numerous different sleep training methods to get baby to sleep. One popular sleep training method is known as “graduated extinction.”
What is graduated extinction? Simply put: letting your baby cry it out.
Many parents claim the method is bad for baby, causing everything from long lasting emotional problems to stress related issues; however, a new study is proving those claims wrong.
The Australian study, conducted over a three-month period, gathered 43 sets of parents and their babies between the ages of 6 and 16 months. The researchers divided the parents into three groups. The first group used graduated extinction to get their child to sleep at night. Parents were asked to leave the room within a minute of putting their child to bed and, if their children cried, to wait longer and longer periods of time before going back to comfort them.
The second group utilized the sleep training method known as “bedtime fading”. Essentially, this means that children were put to bed at or around the time which they usually go to sleep. Parents were encouraged to stay in the room until the child fell asleep.
The third group was the control group. They were not asked to implement any sleep training methods and instead received general information about toddler sleep.
The three groups were studied over a three-month period. What the researchers found was that the first group (graduated extinction group) had children that were sleeping approximately 15 minutes sooner than the group three (control group). The second group (bedtime fading group) had infants sleeping an average of 12 minutes sooner than the control group.
As the study indicates, both of the applied sleeping methods yield efficient results in terms of getting your baby to sleep sooner. Though, it should be noted that the “cry it out” group’s results bested the fading group’s in other measures during the three-month study, including the number of times babies awoke during the night and their total sleep time.
Research proves that these methods, specifically graduated extinction, can get baby to sleep faster. But what effects do these methods have on babies? Apparently none. The researchers found that the levels of cortisol, the hormone that produces stress, were lower in the babies whose parents used sleep training methods. Furthermore, one year after the interventions, the babies did not show signs of being more attached to their parents, nor did their parents report more behavioral problems compared with the babies in the control group.
Knowing that these methods have no long lasting effects on their children, parents would be wise to implement one of the techniques as soon as possible. But which one of these effective sleep training methods is fit for your child?
Daniel Lewin, a pediatric psychologist and sleep specialist at Children’s National Health System in Washington, says “If you have an infant that only has nighttime awakenings, it appears from this study that bedtime fading is not as effective. In the real world, you could do a combination of both.”
It seems that either method is effective, but it takes a bit of trial and error. The good news is that the study suggests that it doesn’t take long to see the benefits and effects of these sleep training methods. Researchers suggest that parents could see results in as little as three days.
Despite the negativity that has always surrounded letting your baby “cry it out”, science has proven that it is an effective and harmless method for providing babies and parents a full night’s rest!
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