INFANT SLEEP TRAINING IS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE, STUDY FINDS
This is a perfect example of how important it is to actually read studies and not just get information from the headlines or summaries. What most parents and even doctors will take from that is that letting a baby cry does no long-term damage and helps babies learn to sleep through the night.
I just have to explain the details of this study so parents will understand what it proved, and what it didn't.
*Study started with 8-month-old babies. NOT newborns!
*The methods were either to respond slower each time or to move farther away while in the room. Neither of these methods were closing the door and letting baby cry indefinitely. Both were GRADUAL.
*It showed NO IMPROVEMENT in baby's sleep habits.
*The only change the study showed (positive or negative) was improvement in mother's attitude in the short term.
The headline could just as easily been written:
SLEEP TRAINING FOR OLDER INFANTS DOES NOTHING EXCEPT MAKE MOMS FEEL BETTER
I can't help but wonder, would mothers also have improved attitudes about their baby's sleep if they had been counseled about how common and normal night waking was? More than one study has shown us that at least 50% of 12-month-olds still wake up at night. That's not the message our culture gives us, though. I know the most common question I got about my baby even in the early months was, "Is she sleeping through the night?" Why does that seem to be what we determine good parenting on? Children do eventually learn to fall back to sleep on their own if they wake up, as my other 7 children prove!
Also, would parents have ever used these methods if it had been disclosed that they wouldn't even help the child sleep better, but only make them feel like they were doing something? I can't resist pointing out that these methods also involve going against the AAP's own sleep guidelines, because they seem to hinge on the baby sleeping in another room, which has been shown to be dangerous. Shame on the AAP for misrepresenting what studies actually say about infant attachment and normal infant sleep.