New research on infant sleep appears to deal a blow to those in the cry-it-out camp. Penn State researcher Douglas Teti examined the role of emotional availability on infant sleep and found that regardless of a family’s night-time routine, infants with parents who were responsive and warm had fewer night wakings and an easier time drifting off. In his study, which involved infrared cameras placed in families’ bedrooms and nurseries, a lapse of more than a minute resulted in a lower emotional availability score.
While more research is under way to further test those findings, Dr. Teti, a professor of human development and psychology, says his work adds to a growing skepticism toward sleep training – not only that it may not work, but that it may, in turn, affect the parent-child relationship itself.
“An emotionally available parent would probably not let their baby cry it out,” says Dr. Teti, who included babies aged one month to 24 months in his study. “Quite frankly, there aren’t too many researchers that advocate that any more. I don’t want to diss sleep-training programs per se, but the way we construed emotional availability is that an emotionally available parent is not a parent who is going to abandon a child at night and let the child cry it out.”
Imagine you are in an unfamiliar, loud, bright and sharp, cold place – after spending the first part of your life somewhere relaxed, snug and safe. What if you didn’t speak the language in this new land? Didn’t really know anyone, or how to communicate. Would you want to sit and cry alone, unable to transmit your needs to others or would you prefer to be dependent on their compassion, love and patience to find a way to break through the barrier of language?
More research shows what I have always known to be true in my heart, sleep training is cruel and unusual. As a society we keep moving further away from our mammalian roots and our history as social creatures who live in nurturing and nourishing environments. Read more about the detriments of sleep training or crying it out. Remember – we all have choices to make as parents, be informed and listen to your instincts. If it feels wrong, if you feel guilt – these are our internal indicators that what we are doing just isn’t right.
Keep in mind – Cuddling isn’t the same as Coddling The Sleep Training Debate