Does sleep training really cause no long term harm? Maybe, but this study doesn’t doesn’t prove it.

When I blogged last week about the study which supposedly showed that sleep training  via Ferberizing, cry it out, controlled crying, controlled comforting –  whatever you want to call it – has no long term ill effects on children, I noted that I hadn’t read the full study, only the abstract and the media commentary. I was commenting mainly on the media coverage of the story and an interesting finding that the authors  chose not to highlight.

Well, now, I’ve read the study and I’m not terribly impressed. Actually, I’ve read enough sketchy “peer-reviewed” studies to make me a lot less impressed with the term peer review than I used to be. And this study definitely had its shaky points – primarily that they don’t have very good data on what either group of parents did or didn’t do in terms of sleep training. One group got an educational session on sleep training, the others did what they wanted – which could have included sleep training for all we know. I won’t go into the details of this study’s flaws because other bloggers have already done that very well. If you want details here are two examples by two top Canadian parenting bloggers PhD in Parenting and Evolutionary Parenting.

Suffice to say, when you’re reading news media reports about a study, most of the time you can assume the reporter didn’t read the study, let alone understand it, and, very often they simply parrot what was in the media release. And what’s in the media release is often more spin than fact.

I guess that’s why we need bloggers.


About uncommonjohn

I am one of Canada's top parenting writers. My areas of expertise and interest include debunking bad parenting advice (especially about sleep), self-regulation, fatherhood, child development, children's mental health, childbirth and breastfeeding.
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