The debate on whether night criers should be tended to immediately or allowed to cry has long been a hotly contested one, and new research suggesting babies are best left to self-soothe is likely to garner opposition too.
US psychologists studying sleeping patterns in 1,200 children between 0-3 years have reported that babies left to get back to sleep on their own learn how to self soothe and are better sleepers in the long run.
Marsha Weinrub, a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia measured patterns of nightime sleep awakenings in babies from six months onwards, finding that those who’s mothers responded to their night time awakenings or were in the habit of being breastfed to sleep had more difficulty sleeping through the night.
The study divided the infants into two groups: Sleepers, who only woke in the night around once per week at six months, and transitional sleepers who woke seven nights per week.
The majority of the transitional sleepers were boys, tended to have more difficult temperaments and were also more likely to have mothers who were depressed.
Weinrub stated that further research should be conducted into the links between maternal depression and infant awakenings, and suggested the best advice for parents is to “Put infants to bed at a regular time each night, allow them to fall asleep on their own and resist the urge to respond right away to awakenings.”