Practical Research Parenting – Best of 2014

Thank you for joining me on my parenting adventure in 2014. Here is 2014 in review.

Top 5 Practical Research Parenting Posts Practical Research Parenting - Best of 2014from 2014

My 5 most popular posts were:

Feed your baby to sleep – The possums sleep intervention new recommendations

The possums sleep intervention asserts that the association between feeding, body contact, and sleep is a very natural, biological association, not a learned association. Intentionally breaking this association risks breaking the association between sleepiness and sleep, which could cause greater issues. The Possum Sleep intervention is not sufficiently tested empirically, but provides a logical theory that contradicts a lot of common advice.

How to get your baby to self-settle: a review of 5 sleep training methods

This post examines research that found the following techniques were effective in encouraging self-settling behaviour:

1. Prevention education – which involves educating new parents or expecting parents of the benefits of giving their baby opportunities to fall asleep alone, a routine, different day and night environments etc.

2. Positive routines/ Faded bedtime with response cost: This involves building an association between an enjoyable bedtime routine and sleep. Then moving the start of the routine back gradually, until it occurs at a more reasonable hour.

3. Scheduled awakenings: Which involve arousing and comforting your baby just before they would naturally wake.

4 and 5. Cry it out and controlled crying. You have probably heard of these techniques, both involve not responding to your babies cries.

For each technique I detail the steps, the evidence for their effectiveness, the philosophy, and appropriate age.

Response to “Self Settling – What really happens”

Here I respond to a post by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. We come to similar conclusions, that controlled crying approaches are not kind, and are certainly not a desirable approach. However, I point out some over-generalisations in Sarah’s argument. This post explores the nature of self-settling and how we can help babies to develop it gently.

Teaching emotion management: Helicopter parenting and sleep

Being emotionally responsive to your child develops emotional regulation skills. However, letting your child experience, and learn to handle emotions such as frustration without leaping in and fixing the issue is also important. Children can practice emotional regulation throughout the day, and is an important part of settling to sleep.

How to toilet train

This post looks at the elements of toilet training and examines the evidence for their effectiveness.

Other posts I like

Sleep Summary

This page summarises what I have learned about baby sleep so far.

Help your baby to sleep, guilt free

This post addresses the flawed mindset that we are “giving in” or “failing” when we have to help our babies to sleep. I give empirical reasons why we should not feel guilty about this, why it is an important part of parenting.

Dream Baby Guide Summary

This post is not just a book review. It outlines important recommendations from the book and the pre-requisite skills needed to develop self-settling. I have had a lot of success with the Dream Baby Guide methods, and a lot of them make sense in the context of child development, but this is more of a practice-based than science-based post.

Bedtime routine modeling

Modelling is such an important tool in teaching children. In this post I look at how modelling can communicate expectations around bedtime routines and sleep.

A sneak preview of 2015

I have a number of goals for Practical Research Parenting in 2015:

1. I plan to start a podcast so you can listen rather than read if you would prefer. Initially podcasts will recap content I have already written, then hopefully I’ll arrange some interviews.

2. I am working on developing a sleep decision guide, to give you a selection of gentle sleep solutions that you could try with your child.

3. The posts will of course keep coming. At the moment I am working on a post on consistency and responsiveness. I will also be branching into “discipline” issues. I’ve realised that my interest in and knowledge of motivation principles is very important here, because “discipline” is usually an attempt to motivate your child to act in particular ways.

Please comment and let me know what you want more of, and what you want less of from Practical Research Parenting. Thank you for reading, and sharing!

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  • Sleep Options Wizard (for 0-5 year olds)

    Take steps towards solving your child’s behavioural sleep issues now. The Sleep Options Wizard (for 0-5 year olds) specialises in addressing bed-time struggles, night-wakings, extended night wakings, waking too early, and transitioning to a bed or a separate room. Suggestions are tailored to your child’s age, your situation, and your family. Answer the Wizard’s questions about your child’s sleep, and your family preferences, and he will give you suggestions on the spot.