Parents, Rest Easy About Infant Sleep Training
Researchers have reassuring news for parents struggling to get their babies to sleep.
Previous studies have shown that controlled comforting and camping out were helpful at getting infants to sleep through the night and reducing related depression in moms for up to 16 months.
But the new study shows that some of these benefits may last until the child turns 6, and there are no long-term downsides. (The sleep improvements made by such training tend to last until age 2 and taper out by age 6.)
Parents should take comfort in the new findings, says Lewis J. Kass, MD, of Northern Westchester Hospital. He is a pediatric sleep expert based in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
It is OK to sleep-train your babies using these tried-and-true methods. "Many parents worry that letting their kids cry it out will cause some type of irreversible damage to their psyche and the parent-child bond, but there won't be any long-term damage," Kass says.
Sleep training is a challenge for many parents, and there are no hard-and-fast rules, he says. "Most infants can distinguish between night and day by 4 to 6 months of age."
What’s more, sleep-trained babies were similar to infants who did not participate in formal sleep training in terms of their mental health, sleep habits, stress levels, and their relationship to their parents at age 6, the study shows.
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