31 May 2016
A topic that is discussed between many families and parenting groups, South Australia has recently conducted the controversial research on control crying.
The South Australian controversial study is the world’s first research that has been conducted through Flinders University and published overseas today. The research has found that the sleep training method, where babies are left to settle themselves to sleep at varying intervals has no adverse long-term effects on a child’s emotions, behaviour or attachment to its parents and in fact provides significant sleep benefits to the baby and the whole family.
Lead study researcher, Flinders University’s Associate Professor Michael Gradisar recently tested the saliva of 43 babies. The babies were tested for cortisol levels to see if the babies subjected to the controversial sleep training method suffered further stress compared with the babies that used other methods to get to sleep.
The researchers established that the parents that used controlled crying did in fact get more sleep, the babies sleep patterns were also monitored. The researchers found that the controlled crying group did extremely well, the time taken for babies to fall asleep had major improvements also the time that babies spent awake through the night had also improved.
The researchers did not find that the technique led to increased chronic levels of cortisol, which in reflection makes sense as this technique generally takes three nights to implement. Even though it may cause stress on the baby for the first three nights, for a baby to produce elevated chronic levels of cortisol, it would require a baby to be stressed for a much longer period.
The researchers tested two different types of sleep training interventions commonly recommended for babies one of the methods being controlled crying and a gentler method called bedtime fading.
The researchers found that the control crying method babies fell asleep an average of 13 minutes sooner and woke up significantly less during the night.
Dr Gradisar mentioned that this study was a landmark, due to until this point in time the salivary cortisol levels in babies associated to controlled crying had never been scientifically tested. The results of this study from Flinders University have now been published in the American Paediatrics journal.
The study’s results go against parenting advice that generally promotes for gentler sleeping techniques, including rocking and swaddling.
Twelve months later the 43 babies were retested for salivary cortisol, and once again the researchers were unable to find any harmful effects on children’s behaviour or emotions.
Research shows that mothers of children who didn’t sleep well were at greater risk to develop post-natal depression. The improvement of their babies sleep through controlled crying may actually override the stress some parents felt when conducting the method.
When deciding that it is time to implement a method to help your baby sleep through the night. It is important to have a good support person during this process who can take over during times you find it difficult.
We do need to keep in mind that every family is an individual and that all families sleep issues, requirements and beliefs are unique. There are many methods and what may suit one family maybe unsuitable for another.