This may help parents sleep better. Babies who cry themselves to sleep do not suffer emotional, behavioral or other health issues, researchers say.
What’s your preferred method for putting an infant to sleep?
An Australian study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics, compared the method used to get 43 babies aged 6 to 16 months to sleep. Parents kept sleep diaries, the infants wore a sleep-tracking device on their ankles and a stress hormone was measured in their saliva each morning.
Researchers compared infants in three groups: Those using the “cry it out” or graduated extinction method; gentler methods such as bedtime fading where infants were put to bed a little later each night; and a control group where parents only received information about infant sleep.
Three months into the study, researchers started to see results.
‘Both (gentle and non-gentle) treatments helped the babies fall asleep quicker,’ Michael Gradisar, associate professor of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and a researcher on the study, told Today.
‘However graduated extinction was better in reducing the number of times the infants woke during the night, as well as the amount of time they spent awake during the night.’
Either technique seems safe for children. A year after the study, researchers followed up with the subjects and did not note any signs of increased attachment by the children to parents. Also, parents in both sleep groups did not report more behavior problems than parents in the control group.
‘What our data probably do not capture is the peace of mind surrounding bedtime that we see when we work with families,’ Gradisar told CNN.
Read more: What’s the ideal bedtime for kids?