Letting a baby cry before falling asleep may not have any significant lasting psychological effects, a new study from researchers at universities in Australia and the U.K. showed.
The research team examined 326 children who had trouble sleeping at the age of seven months. Parents were told to use two different methods of allowing children to "cry it out" before bed time.
The first method, called "controlled comforting" involved a short waiting period before comforting a crying child. Another method called "camping out" involved sitting with a child to comfort them but moving gradually further away from them over time.
After a five-year follow up, the researchers found children with parents who used these techniques displayed no lasting effects on mental health, sleep, psychosocial functioning or stress regulation. There was also no lasting effect on the child-parent relationship, maternal mental health or parenting styles.
"Behavioral sleep techniques have no marked long-lasting effects (positive or negative)," the study stated.
"Parents and health professionals can confidently use these techniques to reduce the short- to medium-term burden of infant sleep problems and maternal depression."
The study appears in the current edition of the journal Pediatrics.
by RTT Staff Writer
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