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Does sleep training cause long term damage?

(84 Posts)
Needsleepnow87 Tue 30-Jan-18 08:09:18

I’m thinking of doing some interval sleep training (DS is 9 months)...but I’m worried that it will cause long term emotional damage.

Does sleep training negatively effect your bond with baby or cause issues later on in life?

I’m talking about for older babies (nearly 1), not newborns!

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Tue 30-Jan-18 08:12:00

It's an age old debate and you'll get both sides here but yes, I believe it does and it's why I didn't do it. Cortisol is a pretty powerful thing to be messing with. Do whatever you feel best but do your proper research first and look at the studies.

Redrosebelle Tue 30-Jan-18 08:12:36

There’s lots of people who says it does and lots of people who will say it doesn’t
I’m a paeds nurse and would never leave any child to cry. Their heart and breathing rate goes so high, I personally think it must have an adverse event. If nothing else it exhausts them or they make themselves sick.. for me you just don’t know for sure either way so I wouldn’t do it. All kids learn to sleep eventually.

FortheloveofJames Tue 30-Jan-18 09:14:28

Again, it’s an age old debate and I’m sure you’ll get lots of different views when people reply. It’s a very emotive topic on here. However I think it depends on the type of sleep training you mean. I think people always assume you’ll be leaving baby to cry alone continuously, and that’s not always the case as their are techniques that mean you stay with baby providing comfort constantly (it may just also mean that baby is crying while you are there because you’re not nursing/rocking)

dementedpixie Tue 30-Jan-18 09:15:55

There are different types of sleep training and it's not all about leaving them to cry it out alone

crazychemist Tue 30-Jan-18 14:42:38

I think it probably depends on the baby and why they are waking. One way or another, you are teaching them that you don't come when they cry at night. I don't know whether that is a long term effect or not. You have to weigh up whether you'll be a better parent to them during the day if your sleep is less disrupted.

OhHolyJesus Tue 30-Jan-18 14:52:24

Not sure of cortisol levels for CC but don't kids get stressed from all kinds of things?
I did CC and it's been great. DS is a gorgeous 2 yo who is advanced in speech and has your usual tantrums you would expect for his age. No emotional scars showing yet!

InDubiousBattle Tue 30-Jan-18 14:58:00

No. I don't believe that a night or two sleep training a child in an otherwise loving home would have any effect on a child's emotional development.

I would never leave a baby to cio. Cc with long spells being left (more than a minute say)wasn't for me either but i've known friends do cc and it worked well for them.

When ds was 7 months old he began waking every hour to 90 minutes. Initially he would be fed back to sleep but would only take an oz then fall asleep, we would have to hold him for around 30 minutes until he was really asleep, put him in his cot then get to sleep ourselves, before waking an hour later to do it again. He wouldn't even go an hour if we brought him into our bed. 3 months of this we were exhausted, so was ds, he was getting nowhere near enough sleep.
Firstly helped hi to self settle for naps, I would stay with him in his room rubbing his back for him then gradually retreat until, he could go to sleep after a brief back pat. Then we night weaned (he was around 11 months by then)offering water at ever (hourly)wake up. We then did an altered version of cc. I left him for 1 minute-90 second 4 or 5 times then went and slept in his roo m, but I wouldn't give him milk or rock him to sleep. He wasn't left alone after the first 10 minutes or so. He cried ion and off for about 2 hours then first night, 10 minutes the second night and slept through every night since (barring illness).
The process took about a month but I think it was certainly sleep training. He was a much, much happier child once he was getting enough sleep. With my dd we didn't sleep train becasue she was happier to co sleep.

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Tue 30-Jan-18 16:29:55

OP it's a fairly divisive subject and you'llget prob 50/50 opinions on it. Best bet is to do your own research/reading (check sources!), see what your instinct is telling you and then make a confident decision. None of us know you, your baby or your personal circumstances, and it's a very personal decision. Best of luck.

bookworm14 Tue 30-Jan-18 17:29:54

Personally, I think being cared for by a dangerously sleep-deprived parent is more likely to cause damage than a few nights of sleep training.

Ouchmyundercarriage Tue 30-Jan-18 19:41:43

The general consensus amongst psychologists and neuropsychologists is that after 6 months baby’s brain is developed enough for gentle sleep training. Before this age there are concerns about the impact of excess cortisol and other stress hormones as baby is less developmentally able to self soothe. It will not affect your bond or attachment - this may be a problem for babies who are chronicly neglected or inconsistently parented. If you are both able to sleep better it may well improve other things eg your mood, energy, etc. Good luck!

splendide Tue 30-Jan-18 19:47:51

I don’t know about damage - doesn’t seem hugely likely to me.

I didn’t want to leave mine crying because I didn’t want him to be upset at the time. Also I worried that he’d think of his bed as a frightening or upsetting place to be.

Having said that I’ve been ignoring my 3.5 year old shouting “come and say goodnight again” for the last 30 minutes. So don’t ask me!

ChocolateDollyMixture Wed 31-Jan-18 13:25:03

I did CC with my 9month old as the 'damage' from him waking nearly every hour was visible right there -red eyes, withdrawn, falling asleep more in the day. He was SO tired but waking all hours of the night.
I don't buy into the stress of crying being bad for them as in that sense should we stop all tantrums too, do we give in to all their whims and stop all crying? (Plus make it VERY clear that Controlled Crying is not CIO -I did not put my DS down and leave him for the night.)

For me the CC wasn't about ME needing the sleep, it was about helping my DS get the good sleep he needed.
Less than 3 nights later he slept through. 1 week later he had colour back in his cheeks, eating better & more full of life. His day naps improved too.

But, as said above, do your own research and do what works for you. Good luck.

Schwanengesang Thu 01-Feb-18 08:30:38

Depends how well it works.

DS is 15 months. He is chronically & acutely sleep-deprived. On a good night he only wakes every 45 minutes, most nights he can wake 20-30 times, sometimes with a battle to get to sleep (12.30am bedtime anyone?) or 2-3 hours awake from 2am. He sleeps about 20 minutes during the day despite all attempts to get him to sleep more.

We have done 5 lots of 2-3 weeks of DH going in & offering water and cuddles at night, since he was about 8 months. It works for a few nights (there might be a few 2-3 hour stretches at the beginning of the night, and some 1-2 hour daytime sleeps) then goes back to normal and makes no difference. He wakes up the same number of times if it's DH with water, or me with the boob. Going back to sleep isn't a massive problem, it's the light sleep & insanely frequent waking. Once he's woken, if we leave him to cry or if I go in and don't feed him, he can cry for hours non-stop. THen wake 30 minutes later and do it again.

I'd be in favour of sleep training if i knew how to make anything work.

GeeKayChesterton Thu 01-Feb-18 18:17:41

No, it doesn't. The evidence cited in support of arguing it does invariably involves profoundly neglected children, not those in ordinary loving homes.

That said, I think leaving them to cry for long periods is distressing for them, and personally don't understand why you would opt for that over gentler methods. You won't break their brains though.

Needsleepnow87 Thu 01-Feb-18 19:47:17

In my head I just think I’m the one person my little baby will build all of his future relationships on, the one person he should trust and to just let him cry (even minutes of controlled crying) just seems horrible to me. I think it must lead to trust issues (maybe a bit extreme!) but then night time comes and it’s sometimes so hard to be patient and I think about sleep training. By day, I feel fine again and think the above. If I was really confident it wouldn’t cause issues, I’d do it straight away!

JesusInTheCabbageVan Thu 01-Feb-18 19:51:45

I didn't do cc or sleep training. However, DS had bad colic and screamed for several hours every night for the first three months. His cortisol levels must have been through the roof (I know mine were). He seems pretty chilled now though.

Ouchmyundercarriage Thu 01-Feb-18 20:13:19

Honestly, gentle sleep training at 9 months will not lead to trust issues. Most methods get you to regularly and consistently comfort them so they are able to predict when you are coming and they know you are there. It is just designed to help them learn how to sleep without you. If you are an inconsistent parent during the day and night that would potentially lead to trust (attachment) issues.

Liskee Fri 02-Feb-18 13:38:05

I sleep trained both of mine when they were old enough to understand that nighttime is for sleep and to enable them to fall asleep on their own in their own beds. I know my own childrens cries and never left them for longer than 30 seconds if they were properly crying or distressed. They both (unless they're sick or teething) now go to sleep on their own in their own beds and stay that way until morning. In fact, I now know that if they do shout or cry in the night, it's because there's something wrong.

Last night, for example, the 3 year old ended up in my bed with a high temperature while DH and the 18 month old were on the sofa having cuddles after calpol because his molars are cutting through (yes, fun night indeed in our house!)

It's entirely up to you if you sleep train or not. As PP have said they all learn to sleep eventually. I made a decision based on our circumstances and it was the right choice for our family. I don't believe my (generally, cos you know, toddlers) happy wee munchkins have suffered, or trust me any less and I do believe it's helped me and my husband.

Doublechocolatetiffin Fri 02-Feb-18 14:02:48

For me the two nights it took to sleep train my DD were absolutely worth it and I can’t see any long term damage from what must have been an hour and a half’s crying over two nights. However, I didn’t do CIO, instead I went back after 1min, 5mins, 10mins etc so they crying wasn’t continuous and it wasn’t like she felt abandoned.

It’s all very well citing cortisol isn’t good for babies, but sleep deprivation is also detrimental to their development so it’s a balance. For me it was worth it so we could both sleep properly and I could function much better as a parent.

Needsleepnow87 Fri 02-Feb-18 14:30:11

For those who did the controlled crying...did you leave the room between intervals and aren’t you supposed to gradually increase the interval? I think I’d just increase it by 10s each time so it never gets too long!!

TwigTheWonderKid Fri 02-Feb-18 14:43:25

I think you just have to go with what feels right to you. There are lots of studies about the effects on the brain of babies who are left to cry (Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt and What Every Parent Needs to Know by Dr Margot Sutherland are interesting reads). I also had a baby who decided at 8-9 months that waking up every 45 minutes was the way to go. For us, co-sleeping sorted that out and he is 12 now and since he was about three, I can honestly say he has never ever woken at night and has always found bedtime to be a positive experience. Of course that's not to say tat had we left him to cry we would not have had the same outcome but for us, that was just something we would never have been able to do.

Crumbs1 Fri 02-Feb-18 14:57:00

No it does no damage at all. In fact the opposite, it teaches them that they are able to settle themselves, it prevents both parents and children suffering lack of sleep and forms a good basis for parents establishing boundaries. Sleep trained babies are less stressed.

qz.com/692971/researchers-say-sleep-training-is-not-emotionally-damaging-and-can-actually-reduce-stress-for-your-baby/

www.laleche.org.uk/letting-babies-cry-facts-behind-studies/

www.reuters.com/article/us-infant-sleep-training/infant-sleep-training-has-no-long-term-effects-study-idUSBRE8890JP20120910

Valerrie Fri 02-Feb-18 15:02:07

Yes. HTH.

Raaaaaah Fri 02-Feb-18 15:04:46

We did CC with DC3. I had been against it with our previous two (1 good sleeper, 1 fairly bad sleeper). DC3 woke every 45mins-1hr even if she was in bed with me with full access to the boob. I was on my knees, my temper was short with the elder two and I was very close to becoming extremely depressed. Yes it might have caused temporary stress for her but in our case it was the lesser of two evils. As a PP said, babies and children will experience stress, have tantrums etc which will raise cortisol. It is life. A mother’s health and mental state does not become redundant when a baby is born and I truly believe some children need gentle help with learning how to sleep to benefit everyone. DD was never left for more than 1 1/2 minutes.

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