While parents have often debated the merits (or lack thereof) of sleep training, attachment parents have dug in their heels, insisting that babies need comforting when they cry out for comfort in the dark of night. Now, evidence exists to back up their claims.
Dr. Teti, a researcher with Penn State, has determined that the more responsive parents are towards their infant’s nighttime wakings, the easier a time the babies had drifting off to sleep at night and the fewer times they awakened. This flies directly in the face of such so-called sleep training methods as the Ferber Method and other “cry-it-out” methods, requiring parents to leave their babies crying unattended alone in their rooms at night in order to learn to put themselves back to sleep.
“So is your baby sleeping all night?” is often heard by new parents, as some sort of test question to determine the skill of these parents or “ease” of the babies. Instead, parents need to be supported to be emotionally responsive to their babies needs, day or night, following their instincts rather than denying them on societal cues.
Unacknowledged crying, infants who are not comforted, according to this study, release dangerous amounts of cortisol that can actually alter their brain in dangerous ways — potentially permanently in those under 6 months of age.
“An emotionally available parent would probably not let their baby cry it out,” says Dr. Teti, who included babies aged one month to 24 months in his study. “Quite frankly, there aren’t too many researchers that advocate that any more. I don’t want to diss sleep-training programs per se, but the way we construed emotional availability is that an emotionally available parent is not a parent who is going to abandon a child at night and let the child cry it out.”– as stated to The Globe and Mail
Babies can be helped to sleep gently, without crying it out. Providing consistent sleep routines, co-sleeping if it works best for your family and can be done safely, sleeping in a dark and quiet room, and practicing nighttime parenting can all help a baby sleep better at night.
The No Cry Sleep Solution is a tried-and-true “no cry sleep solution” sanity saver for tired new parents everywhere. Pick up your copy today at St. Louis area Borders stores in Brentwood, South County, Sunset Hills, Creve Couer, South County, Fairview Heights (Il), and more — or check your local library for availability.
Sources: Coddle or let the kid cry? New research awakens the sleep training debate, The Daily Globe and Mail; 31 Ways to Get Your Baby to Go to Sleep and Stay Asleep Easier, Ask Dr. Sears.