Is letting your baby cry itself to sleep at night cruel and unnatural or no big deal?
What is best for your baby: crying itself to sleep, controlled crying or being soothed on demand?
I find almost nothing arouses as many polarised opinions amongst parents and experts as this topic ( apart from smacking/spanking)
Last week a study from Philadelphia University was reported by the Daily Mail as advising mothers to let babies ‘self-soothe’. In fact it really documented the natural development of sleep patterns in more than 1,000 babies from the ages of six to 36 months.
When I work with parents who are having sleep issues – as I did on “This Morning” a few months ago I always start by looking at their routines for slowing down the day and creating soothing and slow routines that are consistent. I also teach parents to get into a relaxed, positive & confident mindset themselves first, as kids unconsciously pick up on your mood intuitively too.
Babies are very different to toddlers or older children as babies under six months should never be left to cry because they may be ill or need feeding, and at that age they are too young to respond to behavioural training anyway.
Controlled crying (where your baby is left to cry for longer each night, although you go and pat them between sobs), doesn’t have a strong evidence base for how best to do it, how well it works and if it causes any lasting damage and personally I think it is just too stressful for everyone and some experts worry that stressed babies produce more cortisol, a hormone that could harm the developing brain too.
My simple advice is to put your infant to bed at a regular time every night, & allow them to fall asleep on their own and to resist the urge to respond immediately if they wake up so they learn to fall back to sleep on their own.
Trust your intuition, don’t be over anxious and learn to relax, as your child picks up on your vibes more than anything else.
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