Optimizing parent-infant sleep from birth to 6 months: a new paradigm

Infant Ment Health J. 2014 Nov-Dec;35(6):614-23. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21455. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Currently, the dominant paradigm for infant sleep from birth to 6 months is behavioral sleep interventions that aim to entrain the infant's biological patterns of sleep using techniques such as delayed response to cues, feed-play-sleep routines, sleep algorithms, and education of parents about "tired cues" and "overstimulation." A recent systematic literature review has identified that while behavioral sleep interventions may modestly increase the length of time an infant sleeps at night without signaling, they are not associated with improved infant or maternal outcomes and may have unintended negative consequences (Douglas & Hill, 2013). This article reviews the empirical literature on behavioral infant sleep interventions, sleep regulation, and sleep disturbance. Based on the available scientific literature, a new paradigm for infant sleep intervention, from birth to 6 months of age, is proposed. This new approach, the Possums Sleep Intervention, integrates interdisciplinary knowledge from developmental psychology, medical science, lactation science, evolutionary science, and neuroscience with third-wave contextual behaviorism, acceptance and commitment therapy, to create a unique, new intervention that supports parental flexibility, cued care, and the establishment of healthy biopsychosocial rhythms.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child Development
  • Cognition
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / education*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / prevention & control*