Aims: (1) To identify factors at 1 week of age which put infants at risk of failing to sleep through the night at 12 weeks of age. (2) To assess whether a behavioural programme increases the likelihood that these infants will sleep through the night at 12 weeks of age.
Methods: A community sample of 316 newborn infants was employed to identify the risk factors at 1 week of age which increased the likelihood of failing to sleep through the night at 12 weeks of age. Infants who met these risk criteria and were randomly assigned to a behavioural programme were compared with at risk infants in the control group on measures of sleeping, crying, and feeding at 12 weeks of age.
Results: Infants who had a high number (>11) of feeds in 24 hours at 1 week were 2.7 times (95% CI 1.5 to 4.8) more likely than other control group infants to fail to sleep through the night at 12 weeks of age. At 12 weeks, 82% of these at risk infants assigned to the behavioural programme, compared to 61% in the control group, slept through the night. The findings were similar in breast and bottle feeders.
Conclusions: Preventing infant sleeping problems should be more cost effective than treating them after they have arisen. This study provides evidence that it is possible to identify infants who are at risk of failing to sleep through the night at an early age, and that a simple, three step, preventive behavioural programme increases the number who sleep through the night by 21%.
- night waking
- behavioural programme
- parental care
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Preventing sleeping problems in infants who are at risk
of developing them
M Nikolopoulou and I St James-Roberts
Table 1 Background characteristics of the overall groups of mothers and infants.
Table 2 Week 1 potential risk variables, category cut-off points, and number of cases per category in the control group.
Table 3 Comparison of the at-risk infants assigned to the behavioural and control conditions on week 12 behaviours.
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