If you’ve ever discussed sleep training (haha, that was a joke!), you know that Never Never Land is not just a place kids drift off to at night — it’s a place where moms and dads actually agree on sleep training methods, and it doesn’t actually exist. As a result, researchers continue to drop bombs as to what works best, and walk away as parents explode amongst each other about who’s right and wrong. Well played, nerds!
A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics does just that, looking at what methods work best and what methods cause the most stress. Although the sample was small, 43 babies ages 6 to 16 months, the methods were thorough. Infant mothers were randomly assigned one of 3 sleep training methods, including the graduated extinction (Ferberizing), bedtime fading (the chair method), and a control group who was just told to keep doing whatever the hell they were doing. Data was collected via parent-reported sleep diaries, parent reported mood and and stress levels, as well as infant stress levels that were measured by tracking cortisol levels in their saliva — luckily something babies have plenty of to spare.
Overall, the results showed that graduated extinction and bedtime fading were more effective than the control group, and had no adverse long term effects in regards to stress levels or parental attachment. Unfortunately like most studies, they did not look at any dad-infant groups, which could launch you into a new, much more heated sleep training debate in your household: Are dads better at it? On second thought, you’re probably better off fighting with strangers instead.