Should we leave infants to cry themselves back to sleep, or rush to comfort them?
It’s a topic that divides parents and academics alike, and will be debated today by two leading academics with conflicting views at the Helen Mayo House Annual Conference in Adelaide.
"One of my main areas of focus is infant sleep management and I have developed a method that allows infants to sleep better without the need to ignore them and make them cry, which is a commonly-used method," Assoc Prof Blunden says.
Dr Symon, described in tabloid press as the 'Aussie baby whisperer', is reported as advocating a bedtime routine for babies over six months, on three meals a day and not ill or overtired.
"As hard as it is, do not re-enter the room until 7am the next day - unless you feel your baby is unwell," he told the Daily Telegraph.
Assoc Prof Blunden has published 'To cry or not to cry: The need for increased choice in behavioural sleep interventions for parents of infants', in InPsych, the bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society Ltd.
The Adelaide-based researcher says parents need to be offered alternatives to 'cry-intensive' responses.
"Other 'cue-based' methods where crying is not ignored ... have been developed and are successful but are less commonly offered and less well known," Assoc Prof Blunden says.
"Cue-based methods have as a common denominator responding to the infant cries overnight. They are guided by attachment theorists who consider that maternal availability and responding to infant cues at bedtime are necessary in young children.
"Responding to the child is coupled with the option of reducing the intensity of the response in order to gradually reduce the child's dependence on a parent for sleep re-initiation.
"For instance, the reduction in interaction would move from cuddling a child to sleep, to patting the child to sleep, to eventually not touching the child at all while he or she falls asleep."
What do you think? Do you think babies should be left to cry?