It’s the reassurance millions of parents have been wanting to hear.
A new study, conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), has found that controlled crying poses no long-term risks to the health of babies and infants.
The term ‘controlled crying’ is of course a contentious one. For many parents it conjures up images of parents shutting the nursery door and leaving their baby to cry for hours on end — all night if need be.
But in 2012, ‘controlled crying’ (or controlled comforting) refers to gentle sleep school programs for babies over six months where parents are going in and out of the nursery every few minutes, providing plenty of reassurance to baby.
This from Brisbane Times:
CONTROLLED crying improves infants’ sleep, reduces mothers’ depression and does not cause any long-term harm, a Melbourne study has shown.
Researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute analysed outcomes at six years for children whose parents used behavioural techniques to regulate their sleeping as infants.
The techniques – designed to teach babies to fall asleep by themselves – included controlled crying, in which parents put their baby to bed tired and left them for short periods even if they cried, returning to reassure and settle them if necessary. Another technique adopted by parents in the study was ”camping out”, in which a parent sat next to their baby’s cot on a chair while the baby fell asleep and the parent slowly moved out of the room in a gradual process over a few weeks.Writing in the journal Paediatrics, the researchers said there was strong evidence that the techniques reduced infant sleep problems and associated maternal depression for up to 16 months afterwards
But they said unproven concerns about potential long-term effects on children’s mental health had provoked vigorous debate and limited uptake of the techniques, despite their effectiveness. Their study, the first to follow up children as late as age six, compared outcomes for children whose parents used the behavioural techniques at age eight to 10 months to those whose parents did not.
The researchers found there were no differences in the mental and behavioural health, stress levels, and relationships of children across the two groups five years later.
Lead researcher Anna Price said parents and health professionals should therefore feel confident about the effectiveness and safety of sleep interventions in infants aged six months and older.
Are these controlled crying programs for all parents? No. But it’s an option to seriously consider if you are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation.
The fact is that chronic sleep deprivation can unravel families. It affects your ability to think clearly and stay rational. It affects your relationship with your baby. Your other children. Your confidence. It impacts your marriage. Your work. Your partner’s work. And, of course, sleep deprivation can put mothers at a greater risk of developing Post Natal Depression.
It’s no surprise that we’re fans of gentle controlled crying programs here at Mamamia. Our very first eBook “The Gift of Sleep” harnesses the wisdom of sleep whisperer Elizabeth Sloane and her 20 years of experience in teaching more than 10,000 babies how to self-settle.
The Gift of Sleep reveals Elizabeth’s ENTIRE 3-day program – showing you step-by-step how to teach your baby (from 6 months – 2 years) to sleep through the night, self-settling every time they naturally wake without the need for props like patting, rocking, feeding or re-plugging dummies every hour.
In the end, all parents need to do what is right for their family. And to respect the choices made by other parents.
But what do you think? Do these latest research findings encourage you to try a controlled comforting program with your baby? What lengths have you gone to to get your baby to sleep? For more information about The Gift of Sleep click here.
For more information on the study’s findings, check out our sister site iVillage.com.au.