Baby Sleep Training Methods Safe For Infants [STUDY]

I came across this study on a number of news sites recently and wanted to share.

The study looked at the long term effects of 2 sleep training methods vs no sleep training on infants.

Here’s a tidbit from the article:

But a new Australian study may provide some reassurance to those who are trying to sleep train an infant. The study finds that there are no long-term emotional harms linked to two popular behavioral sleep interventions.

Researchers tracked 225 children who were enrolled in the study when they were 7 months old and experiencing sleep problems, through age 6. Half underwent some form of sleep training, either “controlled comforting” (often called “graduated extinction”) or so-called “camping out.”

Graduated extinction is essentially a modified cry-it-out method, in which parents let their babies cry and respond to them at increasing intervals in order to teach them to self-soothe. In camping out, parents sit or lay in their babies’ room and may pat or stroke them while they are in their crib, but do not feed or cuddle them to sleep. Gradually, parents move back from the crib and eventually out of the room.

I wonder if I can use the graduated extinction method in training patients’ parents during physical therapy sessions, where I make parents wait longer intervals before comforting their children.

One of the biggest challenges I have found in pediatric PT is deciding how much I should let my patients cry/”pretend to cry” before letting their parents comfort them.  I’m not really concerned about the patients’ welfare so much, but more concerned about whether the parents will hate me for making their child cry and not letting them do anything about it haha.  One of the keys to being a successful physical therapist or successful clinician in the medical field is developing a positive rapport with your patients.  At least now I have a formal definition for what I want the parents to try instead of telling them that they need to cut back on how quickly they comfort their children 🙂

OK so back to the article!  I recommend new parents check it out.  Interesting to learn that the study recommends you put the child to bed when they’re awake and not drowsy!  I would not have thought of that.

“The key to both of these methods is that you put the child down when he or she is drowsy, but awake,” said Dr. Kyle Johnson, a pediatric sleep specialist with Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University. “You have them fall asleep on their own at bedtime. It’s a learned behavior.”

And as with any parenting or therapist strategy,

Indeed, the authors of the new study caution that there might be groups of children, including those who have experienced early trauma or who are especially anxious, for whom the techniques might do more harm than good. Further research is needed to determine if that is the case.

So with that recommendation, I obviously take extra care when treating more anxious patients or patients that have other sensory issues or history of trauma.


So parents or anyone else with opinions about the strategies discussed in the article, what are your thoughts??

Categories: News Articles

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