Babies will sleep better at night if you leave them to cry, parents are advised

For every decision you make as a parent, there's always a counter-argument or movement.

Whether or not you should leave your baby to "cry it out" at night remains one of the thorniest topics. Many mums and dads swear by it, others would never dream of not going to comfort their nocturnal bundle of joy.

Entering the debate is Emily Oster, an economics professor and mum-of-two.

An advocate of controlled crying, Emily has authored a book called Cribsheet which examines the benefits of leaving your baby to cry, which in turn is based on "thousands of papers of academic literature", The Sun reports.

"There doesn't seem like there’s any downside long-term," Emily explains.

"That doesn't mean it's going to be the right choice for everybody but for those who do want to do that, there’s a reassuring picture from the data."

Of course, controlled crying isn't the same thing has just leaving your baby to cry without tending to them at all.

How it works, is parents let their little one cry for short, set increments of time before going in to soothe them.

A further endorsement comes from Monique Robinson, principal investigator at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia.

In a piece for The Conversation   she wrote that in a study involving mums and babies aged between six and 12 months, "not only was there a significant improvement in infants’ sleep, there was also a significant reduction in maternal depressive symptoms compared with controls".

"The research team  followed up  these mothers and infants at the age of six years, and found no difference in emotional or behavioural problems, sleep problems, attachment, parenting styles or maternal mental health between intervention and control groups."

She also takes pains to point out that controlled crying is different to the "extinction" method (where babies are left to cry themselves out). Controlled crying means you can check in on your baby.

Professor Oster also told the Mail : "In studies where parents were encouraged to use this technique and others were not, they found – on average – after the sleep training, babies sleep better.

"Many studies found parents reported their babies are happier after the sleep training than before.

"In addition, there seems to be some benefits to parents, including less maternal depression and better marital satisfaction."

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