August 18, 2016
Written by Lisa Rapaport
This post originally appeared on Reuters.
(Reuters Health) – Deciding when and how to train infants to sleep through the night is one of the hardest issues for new parents, but a small study suggests the process needn’t always be stressful for mothers, fathers or babies.
Researchers followed 43 infants and their parents for one year after randomly assigning them to one of three sleep-training options. One group stretched out how long babies cried before the parents went to get them – a process known as graduated extinction. A second group delayed bedtime a bit longer each night to limit babies’ total time in bed – a process known as bedtime fading. The third group merely received education on infant sleep habits.
Both sleep-training programs were linked to better sleep for babies, but parent education wasn’t, researchers report in Pediatrics.
At the start of the study, the babies were about 11 months old on average and healthy, but at least one parent said the child had a sleeping problem.
Researchers asked families to stick with their assigned sleep program for three months, and then followed them for a year after the interventions ended.