Treatment of sleep problems in families with small children: is written information enough?

Acta Paediatr. 2002;91(8):952-9. doi: 10.1080/080352502760148694.


The aim of this study was to evaluate a standardized sleep programme, i.e. a two-step variation of graduated extinction, where the child is first taught to fall asleep by him/herself at bedtime (first intervention) and 2 wk later also after night wakings (second intervention). The outcome after consultations with a therapist followed by telephone support during both interventions was compared with the outcome after giving written information only during the first intervention and therapist support during the second. A total of 67 families with infants exhibiting spontaneous awakening and crying episodes during the night were randomly assigned to either programme. There were no significant differences in terms of outcome between the two groups. In both groups the number of registered night wakings decreased immediately following the first intervention. At registration, at 1 mo and 3 mo later, all parents, with the exception of one couple at the 3-mo follow-up, reported that the sleep problem had improved.

Conclusion: If parents experience their infant's night awakenings as a problem, teaching their infant to fall asleep by him/herself usually solves this problem quickly. Written information is in most cases sufficient to help parents introduce the new evening routines.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child Rearing / psychology
  • Counseling / education*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Social Support*
  • Time Factors