Any new mom can appreciate the challenge of getting a new baby to sleep through the night. The cries of a child can be heartbreaking, and many parents can find themselves at the door wondering if they should just let them cry it or go in and comfort them. Doctors say most parents find success somewhere in the middle using a method called graduated extinction.
Dr. Eva Kubiczek-Love is a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital and says, "I wait, okay, I wait one minute and then I go in, and then maybe the next night I wait two minutes, and then I go in, and I think if parents have that sort of acclimated or titrated way of doing it, they're going to do better than keeping their hand on the door knob and never going in.”
A recent study in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ says that letting babies cry themselves to sleep does not cause any long term emotional or behavioral harm to the child. In fact, they found that babies who were put to bed using the gradual extinction method, or the bedtime fading method where bedtime is moved later to get the baby to fall asleep sooner, actually fell asleep quicker than those using other methods. That being said, many parents find it too stressful to let their child cry for long periods of time. The bottom line is that it's important for parents to learn their baby's sleep cycle that are developed in the first year, and parents shouldn't wait too long to establish their kids sleep routine.
Dr. Eva Kubiczek-Love says, "You want to start sleep training no later than six months, which means establishing a routine, really making sure that they're in the rhythm of understanding, 'oh, we're going to calm down, have a soothing environment, and okay now it's time for me to go to sleep.’”
Finally Doctor Kubiczek-Love says the most important thing parents can do when sleep training is to find a method and stick with it. Too many changes will ultimately make it more difficult for you and your baby to get a full night's rest.