Sleep Training

Does Sleep Training Affect Baby-Mother Attachment?

Does Sleep Training Affect Baby-Mother Attachment?

Sleep is a precious commodity, and for parents, a good night's sleep can feel like an unattainable dream, especially when dealing with a baby. The idea of teaching your little one to fall asleep independently is appealing for both parents and their little ones. It promises a more restful night for all, better mood, and overall well-being.

However, many parents grapple with concerns when considering sleep training methods. The question that often arises is, "Will sleep training affect the baby's attachment to their mother?" While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, we can explore the relationship between sleep training and attachment to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Sleep Training:

Sleep training refers to various techniques that teach babies to fall asleep independently. These methods may involve a degree of crying as the baby learns to self-soothe and adapt to a more structured sleep routine. While sleep training promises improved sleep patterns, some parents worry about the potential impact on their baby's attachment to them.

The Tears Dilemma:

It's essential to acknowledge that almost all sleep training methods involve some degree of crying. The primary difference lies in the duration and approach. "Long" methods involve a longer period of gradual training, with less crying each day over several weeks. "Fast" methods result in shorter but more intense crying over a shorter period, typically 1-2 weeks. In either case, some tears are likely.

Attachment Formation:

It's crucial to understand that the bulk of attachment formation between a baby and their primary caregiver occurs when the child is awake. If your baby enjoys restful sleep, they'll be more alert and responsive during their waking hours, allowing for quality interaction and bonding. A well-rested baby is less likely to be fussy and irritable, which, in turn, reduces the stress and exhaustion felt by parents.

Research Insights:

Scientific research from various parts of the world provides valuable insights into sleep training and its impact on attachment and overall well-being:

United States Study: An analysis of over fifty studies, involving 2,500 children with an average age of 20 months, found that children who underwent sleep training significantly improved their ability to fall asleep, both three and six months post-training. Furthermore, 80% of children experienced not only improved sleep but also enhanced general well-being. This research indicated that quality of life improved not only for children but also for their parents.

Study- "Behavioral Treatment of Bedtime Problems and Night Wakings in Infants and Young Children.” An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Review.

Australian Study: A study conducted in Australia, involving six regional health centers and 328 families with children aged 7 months, found no evidence of adverse effects from sleep training. The study didn't observe any deterioration in children's mental health or adverse impacts on their educational development.

Study - “Long-term Mother and Child Mental Health Effects of a Population-Based Infant Sleep Intervention: Cluster-Randomized, Controlled Trial.” Harriet Hiscock, Jordana K. Bayer, Anne Hampton, Obioha C. Ukoumunne and Melissa Wake. Pediatrics, September 2008.

Two Encouraging Studies: Two separate studies involving 178 and 137 children respectively found that sleep training using rapid methods did not have any adverse effects on the attachment between children and their mothers or on behavioral development.

Study - "Parental use of 'cry it out' in infants: no adverse effects on attachment and behavioral development at 18 months.” Ayten Bilgin, Dieter Wolke. Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2020.

Study - "Parental Use of “Cry Out” in a Community Sample During the First Year of Infant Life.” Gerald F Giesbrecht, Nicole Letourneau, Tavis Campbell, Martha Hart, Jenna C Thomas, Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, June/July 2020.

Ready to help your little one and yourself get the rest you deserve? Let's do it together with my 3-week support 1on1 sleep training package, where you can choose the sleep training method that you are most comfortable with and have my daily support during the training process.