If you’ve ever spent the night with a baby who just won’t seem to go to sleep, you know how frustrating the experience can be. Should you let the baby cry? Pick her up? A careful study now shows the healthiest way to cope.
Australian researchers have found that any reasonable way to get kids to sleep is acceptable. Letting kids cry for a while does not emotionally stunt them later in life. When kids were trained to fall asleep on their own with reduced amounts of parental comfort, there was no psychological harm.
The infants in the study were randomly selected to undergo sleep training at age 7 months either to be held or rocked until they fell asleep or to cry it out (within reason) before falling asleep on their own. By age 10 months, those trained to sleep alone had become better sleepers compared with the others. At age 2, the babies who underwent training were still sleeping better and their mothers showed fewer signs of depression and overall fatigue.
If you are interested in learning techniques to train your infant to sleep better, try the Ferber Method in which you gradually lengthen the amount of time you wait to soothe a sleepless infant.