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Infants Held Less Cry More, Sleep Through Night Earlier

But different parenting styles do not affect unsoothable crying

MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Infants who are held for fewer hours per day tend to cry more than babies who have more parental contact, but they are also more likely to sleep through the night at 12 weeks of age than infants who are held for many hours a day, according to a report published in the June issue of Pediatrics. However, all infants have periods of unsoothable crying that are unrelated to style of parenting.

Ian St. James-Roberts, Ph.D., of the University of London in the U.K., and colleagues studied behavior in three groups of parents who had different parenting styles: "proximal care" parents who held infants 15 to 16 hours per day and slept with them at night; parents in London who had 50 percent less physical contact with babies when awake or asleep; and parents in Copenhagen, Denmark, who had a parenting style in-between the other groups.

The researchers found that London infants cried 50 percent more than the other infants, but were more likely to sleep through the night at 12 weeks of age compared with proximal care infants. Copenhagen infants cried less than the London infants, and were as likely to sleep through the night at 12 weeks. The proximal care group didn't cry as much, but were also more likely to wake and cry at night at 12 weeks. All three groups had episodes of unsoothable crying.

The findings "add to evidence that bouts of unsoothable crying, which are common in early infancy, are not much affected by variations in parenting, providing reassurance that this aspect of infant crying is not parents' fault," the authors write. "The findings support some experts' concerns that many English parents are adopting methods of care that lead to increased crying in their infants."

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