Crying and unsettled behavior in infancy is common. Prolonged disturbed infant sleep can have significant negative effects on the development of the child, and on the psychological well-being of the mother. Compared to studies examining the effects of behavioral sleep programs such as extinction-based techniques in infants over 6 months of age, fewer studies have looked at such strategies in infants under 6 months of age. The aim of this article is to summarize the literature examining the effects of behavioral techniques on infant sleep outcomes in the first 6 months of life and provide evidence based recommendations for the management of infant sleep disturbance.
An electronic search of the literature was performed to identify studies which examined the effects of a behavioral intervention aimed at improving sleep in infants under 6 months of age.
Eleven studies were identified, of which 8 demonstrated improvements in infant sleep outcomes subsequent to the implementation of an educational behavioral program.
Education directed to parents about the use of simple, prescriptive, behavioral techniques is effective in improving infant sleep. Long term follow-up studies have failed to find any negative effects on the child, either from a psychological or physical perspective.
*Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia;
†Kensington Park Medical Practice, Kensington Park, South Australia, Australia;
‡Faculty of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.
Address for reprints: Georgina E. Crichton, PhD, Kensington Park Medical Practice, 84 Shipsters Road, Kensington Park, South Australia 5068, Australia; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Received July 13, 2015
Accepted December 01, 2015