Babies with good bedtimes less likely to be overweight

By Drum Digital
05 July 2016

Babies that have a good bedtime routine are less likely to be overweight as they grow.

Researchers from America’s Penn State College of Medicine found that youngsters who get into a good sleep routine reap the benefits. To garner their results the team surveyed more than 250 first-time mothers, who all received home visits from nurses. The medical professionals shared safety advice and information on sleep, including setting an early bedtime and letting babies cry themselves back to sleep when they awoke during the night. Researcher Jennifer Savage points out that feeding a baby to soothe it if it’s not hungry is not the right course of action.

After nine months the babies and their sleep patterns were reviewed, with those put to bed by 8pm and left to cry during the night sleeping for almost 90 minutes longer than babies with later bedtimes. After a year, the babies with good bedtime routines were half as likely to be overweight.

The findings mark an important discovery, as little ones who gain weight during their first year are more likely to be obese as adults. Health problems caused by obesity include diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Study author Professor Ian Paul explains that while it’s common for parents to keep their babies up in the hope they’ll sleep for longer, the new research proves this could be a harmful tactic.

“If you want your baby to sleep longer and better, put them to sleep earlier,” he said. “Regardless of what time you put babies to sleep, they wake overnight.

‘If we don’t set the expectation that they’re going to be picked up and fed, they learn to soothe themselves back to sleep. It is important to establish good sleep habits early in life for health reasons, including obesity prevention, but also for the emotional health of parents and families.

“New parents of infants aren’t thinking about obesity. Our intervention is designed to prevent obesity without having to explicitly talk to parents about their child’s weight.”

Results were published in journal Jama Pediatrics. © Cover Media

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