[Sleep therapy for young children: do not polarize, but aim for diversity in treatment]

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2020 Mar 12;164:D4693.
[Article in Dutch]


Behavioural interventions, such as developing positive sleep-related associations and gradual extinction, are common and proven methods to treat behavioural childhood sleep problems. Although behavioural interventions are safe and effective, controversy has arisen because of the impression that they are incompatible with sensitive parenting (i.e. cued care). The practice of extinction, however, does not preclude a sensitive parenting style. It stimulates autonomy and self-regulation in the child. Instead of counterposing behavioural interventions and cued care, we suggest it is more productive to start from their similarities, such as optimizing sleep hygiene and developing a fixed sleep-wake rhythm. Such measures could be the first steps in a stepped-care model that may be supplemented with additional treatment aimed at the underlying causes of insomnia. For this comprehensive approach it is necessary to have a diverse array of evidence-based treatment options that suits the needs of both children and parents.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Parenting*
  • Parents
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Sleep Hygiene*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / prevention & control
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / prevention & control
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Sleep*