June 6, 2006

NPR: Authoritative British Accent Delivers Scientifically Tested Sleep Advice

As every documentary filmmaker knows, British accents are far more believable. So it's worth taking a listen to this NPR story from yesterday [6/5], in which UK psychologist Ian St. James-Roberts [a hyphen like that? It MUST be true!] discusses his recently published study of sleep techniques which followed three groups of moms [...].

The three groups practiced:
- "proximal care," with co-sleeping, on-demand feeding, and near-constant carrying.
- "conventional Western care," which meant fairly strict schedule-setting [these were "London Moms,"] and
- and a blend of the two, a lot of attention/carrying during the day, but no co-sleeping ["Copenhagen Moms"].

The results: proximal care led to less crying early on, but more erratic sleep and crying behavior later. London had a lot of crying, and it tapered off a bit. Copenhagen had less crying, and good sleep later [I.e., at 3 and 10 months]. And there were colicky, crying babies in every group, and nothing worked with them, so relax: it's not your fault.

[npr.org, where this has been the most emailed story for a while now]
Abstract:
"Infant Crying and Sleeping in London, Copenhagen and When Parents Adopt a 'Proximal' Form of Care", Ian St. James Roberts [pediatrics, jun 6, 2006]

1 Comment

I haven't listened to the NPR yet, but from looking at the full text of the study it appears there was at least a little co-sleeping in all groups. "Most proximal care parents coslept with their infants for the entire night, whereas 16% of Copenhagen and 9% of London parents did this at 12 weeks. London infants were predominantly put down to sleep in cots at night, whereas Copenhagen parents mixed cot use with taking their infants into their bed for part of the night"

I think one thing this study proves is how hard it is to categorize sleep approaches. Everyone's is a little bit different.

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