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Brief behavioural intervention for infant sleep problems reduces depression in mothers

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Does brief behavioural intervention aimed at modification of infant sleep patterns at age 8 months improve maternal depression and child sleep at age 2 years?


328 mothers reporting infant sleep problems at age 7 months. Mothers were recruited to the study when the infant was 4 months old but were only allocated to intervention or usual care if they reported infant sleep problems in a questionnaire administered at 7 months of age. Exclusions: infants born before 32 weeks’ gestation; or mother’s English too poor to complete self-report questionnaire.


Well child centres in six government areas (two low, two medium and two highly disadvantaged), Melbourne, Australia. Recruitment October to November 2003.


Brief behavioural sleep intervention (n = 174) or usual well child care (n = 154). Sleep intervention was delivered by specially trained nurses who taught parents two main strategies: either “controlled crying”, where parents respond to the infant’s cries at increased time intervals, or “adult fading”, where a parent sits with the infant until they …

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  • Source of funding: NHMRC and the Pratt Foundation, Australia.


  • Competing interests: None.