Cry it out. It’s one of the many (many, many) parenting subjects that get the ‘discussion’ going. Some are for it; sleep filled nights here we come. Others go so far as to call the method cruel.
But an article published this week in The Wall Street Journal has again got the hearts a-racing.
Leading doctors from Tribeca Pediatrics’ in the US have come out to say that not only do they support parents using the cry it out method (or extinction method), but that parents have the most success in babies as young as two months of age. Yep, eight weeks old.
“It actually works better at 2 months than at 4 months. It is tougher when the baby is used to more soothing,” says Dr. Cohen one of the supporting paediatricians at Tribeca.
Parents are being told to begin sleep training as early as two months of age. (istock)
Extinction sleep training says that after bedtime parents should not intervene with their child getting to sleep and instead should allow them to develop their own self soothing strategies.
While the theory undeniably has it's critics, there are studies that indicate sleep training methods possess no long-term harm to a child's emotional development, stress regulation, mental health or relationship with their parents.
However, the recommendation from Tribeca is in conflict what what is generally advised to parents who want to try the method, and has been criticised by other professionals generally in favour of the approach. Typically parents are told to wait until a baby is at least four to six months old before attempting any self-soothing strategies.
Dr Deborah Golboa told the Today show in the US that she has serious concerns with these recommendations being made and says that control crying a child as young as eight weeks can have detrimental effects in the long term. She says "The research is pretty compelling that up until 6 months, kids benefit by being picked up when they cry. To be left to cry it out for 20 minutes, half an hour, or an hour at a time, causes trauma at that age."
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Parents seeking a solution to sleepless nights are being advised to pick an approach they are comfortable with and to stick with it. If control crying is your chosen method, doctors say that the best thing you can do is to be consistent and firm in your approach. “It works best if the parents don’t give in,” says Tribeca. “Otherwise the next time they try to do sleep training, it’s that much harder."
Tribeca also supports research which links a parents behaviour to the sleeping patterns of their babies. Parents who are quick to attend to a crying child are often those who experience sleep disturbances and poor sleep cycles where as those who are firm and direct in their sleep training report to have babies who sleep through the night from an earlier age.