If you’re a parent of a newborn, or even just a parent in general, you may be surprised to hear the recent claims that allowing your baby to cry might actually help them get a better night’s sleep.
The claims, made by American economics professor Emily Oster, author of new parenting book Cribsheet, suggest that babies sleep more soundly after ‘controlled crying’, or ‘sleep training’, than they may do otherwise.
However, perhaps not surprisingly, the claims have not come without criticism, with many protective parents blasting them as ‘ridiculous’ on social media.
Nonetheless, Professor Oster claims she has spent the last two years analysing both the benefits and risks of ‘sleep training’, and remains adamant that there is truth in her argument.
According to research by Baby Centre UK, controlled crying, or ‘crying it out’ as it is known colloquially, refers to a variety of methods whereby a parent does not respond to a crying baby for periods of the night.
Parents know all too well that getting your newborn to drift off to sleep at appropriate times can often be a challenge, especially given that the recommended daily amount of sleep for a newborn is around 15 hours – and if your baby is crying, it’s human nature to run to help.
However, many parents often think that controlled crying involves leaving your baby alone to cry for as long as it takes before they fall asleep – but this isn’t the case, and letting your baby cry for a specified, usually short, period of time before going to offer comfort and reassurance can often be the remedy needed to get them to drift off.
Silentnight’s resident sleep therapist, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, knows all about the struggles parents face, and has offered her advice to those who may be considering letting their little one ‘cry it out’ before they drift off.
Dr Nerina said: “New parents may find it hard to leave their baby alone. This is understandable, but babies often wake up, babble and go back to sleep, so give them some time to see if they can resettle themselves, before intervening.
“Newborns are used to being in the womb, so mirroring a similar environment can help soothe them. Create a warm, dark and compact space which only allows for low-pitched noises, as the world can be a weird place for them.
“Creating a sense of ‘womb-like’ security and getting up at a similar time each day can also help them to drift off. Implementing a consistent sleep routine can help you and your baby rest well too.”
Dr Nerina also recommends having a bath and some food before bed each night, as this can help manipulate your baby’s body clock.
Will you be letting your newborn cry it out, or will you still try and calm the tears? Get in touch via our social media pages and let us know.