Different ways to enable new parents to cope and deal with their baby's crying at night have been revealed by various advice centers in Australia.
The two most trusted advice centres, Tresillian and Karitane, have quietly and controversially abandoned their policy of allowing a child to cry and learn to self-settle, instead advising parents to move into their baby's bedroom.
AdvertisementKnown as "parental presence", the practice involves setting up a bed in the baby's room, and making a coughing sound or some other gesture when they cry so they know you are close by.
According to them, it's a "gentler" method than so-called controlled crying or comfort settling where a parent only enters the room at set intervals for a moment to reassure a crying baby then leaves again.
Researchers found nearly half of the respondents reported improvements in their child's sleep problems after using the technique of either refusing to sleep in the baby's room or camping out.
Parental presence works best for children aged over six months. The parent needs to sleep in the child's room for one week with a night light allowing the baby to see them if they wake up. Parents are told to only calm the baby by hand if they become distressed.
However, according to Mothercraft nurses the method is time-consuming and could make the child cry even harder knowing their parent is in the room but not touching them.
"We don't advocate leaving a baby to cry and become distressed," the Daily Telegraph quoted Karitane Monica Hughes, manager of education and research as saying.
"We have thrown the clock out and don't tell parents to wait a set amount of time before entering the room. Once inside, you stay as long as you need to calm them," she said.
She said the study, conducted at a Karitane clinic in south-west Sydney, proved the new sleep strategy was valid.
"We always believed parental presence would work but it was really good to get evidence to say, 'OK you don't have to leave a baby to cry to teach them how to sleep'," she said.
In their brochures, Karitane and Tresillian instruct parents to sleep in the baby's room for seven consecutive nights.
"Once your baby has three consecutive nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep you can begin to leave the room before she is asleep and sleep in your own bedroom.
"Night nannies" or nurses charge up to $1000 a night to help parents break the habit of lying in a child's room to help them fall asleep.