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Babies Should Be Left To Cry Through The Night, Experts Say

Sat, January 5, 2013 9:26am EDT by 20 Comments
Baby Cry Night Study
Courtesy of Flickr

According to a new study, parents should let their babies cry it out in their cribs at night instead of going in and comforting them! Do YOU think that’s OK?

Even though parents may want to rush immediately to their babies’ bedside as soon as they start crying in the middle of the night, experts are now stating that it’s better for their overall sleep cycle to let their children self-soothe and cry themselves back to sleep.

The study, published in the journal of Developmental Psychology, revealed that babies have a sleep cycle every one-and-a-half to two hours, and they wake up slightly before falling back asleep.

“When mothers tune in to these night time awakenings… then [the infant] may not be learning how to self-soothe, something that is critical for regular sleep,” Marsha Weinraub, Professor Temple University at Philadelphia, who led the study, said.

Examining The Sleeping Patterns Of 1,200 Babies

The research, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, looked at the sleeping habits of more than 1,200 babies, and found that two-thirds slept through the night, while one third woke up at least once a night.

The study supported the practice that infants should bet put to sleep at a regular time every night, and they do better if they wake up and then fall back asleep on their own.

“By six months of age, most babies sleep through the night, awakening their mothers only about once per week. However, not all children follow this pattern of development,” Marsha said.

“If you measure them while they are sleeping, all babies — like all adults — move through a sleep cycle every 1.5 to 2 hours, where they wake up and then return to sleep. Some of them do cry and call out when they awaken, and that is called ‘not sleeping through the night.'”

In the research, parents reported their child’s awakenings at 6, 15, 24 and 36 months. By six months, 66 percent of babies did not wake up (the “sleepers”), or woke up just once a week, and kept that pattern as they grew older. But 33 percent woke up seven nights per week at six months, then just two nights by 15 months old, and then on night a week by the time they were 24 months old.

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Sleep Through The Night

“Because the mothers in our study described infants with many awakenings per week as creating problems for themselves and other family members, parents might be encouraged to establish more nuanced and carefully targeted routines to help babies with self-soothing and to seek occasional respite,” she said.

What do YOU think of the study HollyMoms? Will you let your baby self-soothe and fall back asleep on his or her own?

— Christina Stiehl

More baby studies:

  1. Why Having A Baby Boy Changes Your Brain — New Study
  2. Baby Bonding: How The First 18 Months Can Shape Your Love Life
  3. New Study: Obese Women Are Twice As Likely To Miscarry Or Endure A Baby’s Death