The hottest debate among parents today? Deciding whether or not to let your baby “cry-it-out.” That’s the term for a sleep training method that promotes letting your baby cry itself to sleep, instead of rushing to comfort them. The thinking is that if you offer comfort every time your baby cries, then they’ll never learn to fall asleep on their own and you’ll never get any rest!

That’s a big deal, because a new study from Temple University shows that sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of stress and depression among parents. So, here are the two sides of the “cry-it-out” debate:

  • On one hand, studies show that after the age of six months, most infants left to cry-it-out DO learn to fall asleep on their own faster, compared to infants who are comforted by a parent.

  • However, a new study found that even though cry-it-out babies fall asleep faster, their stress levels remain very high. And a child’s high stress could impact their emotional health and behavior, as well as their ability to bond with their parents.

But what happens in the long-term? One new study followed babies from birth to 6-years-old. Half were allowed to cry-it-out, or self-soothe, and the other half were always soothed by a parent. The results? Researchers found no significant difference in emotional health, behavior, or sleep problems. Also, parents had similar stress levels, and parent-kid bonds were the same. So, whether you let your baby cry-it-out, or pick them up with every whimper – it all evens out in the end.

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