Finally! Good news for parents suffering newborn sleepless nights

Parents who use the controversial technique known as 'controlled crying' on their babies have been given welcome good news.

Research has found letting infants cry themselves to sleep is not harmful and may even be better for babies.

Mother-of-two Neralie Cain is well aware just how challenging it can be to get a baby to sleep.

Neralie Cain, pictured with her two children, says getting kids to sleep is tough. Photo: 7 News
Neralie Cain, pictured with her two children, says getting kids to sleep is tough. Photo: 7 News


“It's something that can become stressful for the whole family,” she told 7 News.

But a Flinders University study has found two training methods improved babies' sleeping habits without detrimental effects to the infant or their family.

The most successful technique was controlled crying, where babies learned to self soothe, which had infants falling asleep, on average, 13 minutes sooner.

Researcher Dr Michael Gradisar said there was the added benefit that the babies “weren't waking up so much during the night as well”.

There was no evidence to suggest the technique caused long-term problems or parent-child attachment issues.

Fast asleep: Controlled crying maybe a stressful technique to try, but researchers have found it bears fruit. Photo: 7 News
Fast asleep: Controlled crying maybe a stressful technique to try, but researchers have found it bears fruit. Photo: 7 News


“It's a stressful technique to actually perform in the short term, but it doesn't necessarily lead to any causes of elevated stress in the long term,” Dr Gradisar said.

The other, gentler method was ‘bedtime fading’, where parents delay an infant’s bedtime.

However, the results for it were not quite as strong as controlled crying.

Dr Michael Gradisar says controlled crying had no harmful impact on babies. Photo: 7 News
Dr Michael Gradisar says controlled crying had no harmful impact on babies. Photo: 7 News


On average, babies in the bedtime fading group fell asleep ten minutes faster than usual, but there were no changes in the number of nighttime awakenings.

Dr Gradisar says more research is needed to firm up the findings, but he hopes parents will become more open to controlled crying.

“I think that people will definitely consider it more,” Ms Cain said.

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