Early Bedtimes For Your Baby Can Boost Health

baby sleeping

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Putting your baby to bed early won’t just give you some well needed alone time, it could also improve your baby’s health for years to come. A new study from the Penn State College of Medicine has found that babies that get into an early bedtime routine are 50 percent less likely to be overweight by the age of one as others. This is important because infants who are overweight by age one are more likely to be obese later in life and at risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions.


Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine studied more than 250 first time mothers and their babies. The mothers were visited frequently by nurses, with half given safety and health information on sleep, including bedtime routines and feeding. Some advice included putting the baby to sleep early and letting  the youngsters cry themselves to sleep rather than feeding them at night.


Researcher Jennifer Savage says “Feeding a baby can be an easy and fast way to quiet an upset baby. But we don’t want parents to use feeding to soothe their baby if the baby isn’t hungry – crying is one of the last things a baby is likely to do if they are hungry.”


By nine months of age, babies who were put to bed by 8pm slept almost an hour and a half longer on average than babies who were put to bed later. By the age of one, they were half as likely to be overweight, the study reported.


Professor Ian Paul, the author of the study said: “A lot of parents try to keep their babies awake longer, thinking that they’ll sleep longer at night if they’re tired and won’t wake up. We found that’s not true. When parents keep babies up longer, they just sleep less.”


“If you want your baby to sleep longer, put them to bed earlier. 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.”


A version of this article appeared on the dailymail.co.uk on July 4, 2016, with the headline “How early bedtimes for your baby can boost its health for decades: Children who get into a good regime early on are half as likely to be overweight”


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