New Study Reignites the Debate About Controversial Sleep Training Method

New Study Reignites the Debate About Controversial Sleep Training Method

The babies' crying frequency were assessed at birth, three and 18 months.

The cry it out method of sleep training has been around for many generations. While some parents swear by it, others are staunchly against it, often leading to rather heated debates on the topic.

A recent study has revealed that “parental use of ‘cry it out’ in infants [has] no adverse effects on attachment and behavioural development at 18 months.”

The study was led by researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK and published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

About the study

New Study Reignites the Debate About Controversial Sleep Training Method

Have you tried the cry it out method? | Image: iStock.

They looked at 178 infants and their caretakers, noting the cry duration via reports from the mothers at birth, three, six and 18 months of age. The babies’ crying frequency was also assessed at birth, three and 18 months.

Attachment and behaviour was noted and a self-completed questionnaire was completed by the parents at 18 months of age.

The results showed that the use of the cry it out method became more common as babies grew older. In fact, it is quite rare for parents to use this technique at birth, however, as they battled with more sleepless nights, they became more inclined to employ this method.

They also showed that leaving a baby to cry it out a few times as a newborn and often at three months of age was associated with less fussing and shorter crying duration at 18 months of age.

Furthermore, the report states there were “no adverse impacts of leaving infants to cry it out in the first six months on infant–mother attachment and behavioural development at 18 months.”

About the cry it out method

cry it out method

Are you for or against the cry it out method? | Image: iStock.

This method was made famous by Paediatrician Richard Ferber in the late 1900s. It involves putting your baby in their cot or bassinet when they are drowsy but not yet asleep. Parents are then to say goodnight and leave the room. You can read a more detailed run-down on the method here.

Despite the name suggesting otherwise, this method does not mean you abandon your child and simply ignore the crying. A routine of returning to check on your baby without picking them up should be followed, but the idea is essentially to teach your baby to self-settle.

Understandably, not everyone agrees with the approach. In 2014, Dr. Justin Coulson wrote for Kidspot: “With scientific developments, we can confirm that letting babies get distressed can damage them” in the following ways:

  • Letting babies get distressed can impact on their relationships throughout life
  • It can impact on intelligence
  • It can impact on health
  • It can increase anxiety
  • It can increase uncooperative behaviour.

Dr. Justin also reminded parents that, “researchers are in almost absolute agreement that crying it out should NOT be attempted with any child under the age of six months.”

This post was first published on Kidspot and was republished on theAsianparent with permission.

ALSO READ: Expert Reveals What Is Causing The Rise In Kids’ Sleep Battles

New Study Reignites the Debate About Controversial Sleep Training Method

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