Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Find a Center
Use the following fields to locate sleep centers in your area.

Search radius:

Ongoing Debate: The Best Way to Get Your Baby to Sleep

Filed in
  • Infants
  • parenting

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Apr 05, 2009
Email   Print

What's the best way to get your baby to sleep through the night?

Most new parents are desperate to know the answer. The AASM reports that bedtime problems and frequent night wakings occur in about 20 percent to 30 percent of young children.

But the advice that parents receive can be contradictory. And the subject is a source of debate, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The Herald Sun reports that recent research has stoked the debate in Australia. The research supports using the “controlled crying” technique for babies who are older than six months of age.

This method often is attributed to Dr. Richard Ferber. He advocates teaching infants how to go back to sleep on their own.

This is often called the “cry it out” technique. A more technical term is “graduated extinction.”

On the other side of the debate is Dr. William Sears. Instead of the “cry it out” method, he is a proponent of “attachment parenting.”

A 2006 study in the journal Sleep compared the advice found in 40 parenting books. Sixty-one percent of books endorsed “crying it out”; 31 percent opposed it.

Also in 2006 the AASM published practice parameters for bedtime problems and night wakings in young children and infants. A task force of experts reviewed all of the current research on this topic.

The report recommends graduated extinction as an effective therapy.
Discuss any ongoing sleep problems with your child's doctor. He or she may refer you to an AASM-accredited sleep center for help.