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Infant Sleep-Training Yields Positive Short-Term Results

There are numerous infant sleeping strategies, from immediately picking up a baby when it begins to cry, to the controversial “cry-it-out” method.  However, new sleep-training techniques been put to the test. In a recent study, researchers report that infant sleep-training can have positive short-term results with little long-term effects.

In a follow-up study, released out of Australia and published in Pediatrics, researchers report that the long-term effects on children who are sleep-trained are essentially non-existent. In fact, the only difference researchers found was that 2% more sleep-trained children (versus non-sleep-trained) had difficulty with regular sleeping patterns. Researchers speculate that the difference is so minimal that the differing results could just be due to chance. In the short-term, it was found that as babies learned to calm themselves and fall asleep easier, they were also able to sleep for longer periods of time. This benefits not only the child, but also exhausted parents struggling to find moments of undisturbed sleep.

Beginning in 2007, the infant sleep study examined 2 specific sleep-training techniques:  “controlled comforting” and “camping out.” Both allow parents to monitor their infants from a distance, allowing the baby an independent go at falling asleep. Neither of these sleep-techniques is as drastic as the “cry-it-out” method, but do still require a parent to have the will power to listen to their baby cry.

Controlled Comforting - A parent is to respond to a crying baby and comfort the child. As the period of time continues, attentive parenting is scheduled at longer intervals. The longer intervals encourage the baby to settle down on their own, yet still give mom and dad the satisfaction of checking on the child.

Camping Out - In this sleep-training technique, the parent parks themselves in a chair near the baby’s crib, while the child learns to fall asleep on their own. As time progresses slowly, parents will gradually move their seat farther away, until they are completely out of the room and baby is able to fall asleep alone.

The major concern of most parents involved in the study was the effect these techniques would have on the child-parent bond. Researchers were happy to report that no emotional, behavioral, or bonding issues were apparent in any of the participants. Also, there were no reported long-term benefits for parents either. What this study shows is that sleep-training can yield positive results for both parents and children, allowing everyone to get the best sleep they can, and have more energy to enjoy family time together.

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