Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Naps can benefit babies by boosting their memories, but as your child grows, too many naps may actually worsen sleep patterns.
Researchers in Australia reached this conclusion after analyzing 26 studies focused on the affect of napping on kids’ health and social development. The age range covered in the studies varied from birth to 5 years old.
The researchers also reached the conclusion that poor sleep patterns had a negative impact on weight, cognitive functioning, and emotional health.
“The evidence suggests that beyond the age of 2 years, when cessation of napping becomes more common, daytime sleep is associated with shorter and more disrupted night sleep,” Karen Thorpe, a professor in development science at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, told TODAY Parents.
The latest study isn’t too surprising, as longer naps could make it difficult for kids to fall asleep later and stick to a more regular bedtime routine. And it makes a case for decreasing naps as kids age, especially as toddlers transition from two naps to one.
However, not all scientists are persuaded by the study for a few reasons, reports Live Science. The age range focused in the 26 studies offer too many variables, sleep pattern data supplied by parents may be inaccurate, and there are no other studies that confirm significant differences between day and nightime sleep for kids. Also, kids who nap during the day may have chronic sleep issues that require them to catch up on sleep.
Instead, most experts agree that getting your child on a consistent sleep schedule is more important than worrying about whether your child is napping too much or too often.
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.
Photo of sleeping toddler boy via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
bedtime, bedtime routines, nap, napping, naps, naptime, sleep, sleep deprivation, sleep habits, sleep training, toddler sleep | Categories:
New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now
Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Babies who don’t get enough sleep may end up weighing more later in childhood, according to a study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. More from Time.com:
Plenty of studies connect poor sleep habits in adults to obesity, but few track the long term effect of infants’ sleep throughout childhood. That’s why Dr. Elsie Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, and her colleagues followed babies every year from 6 months old until they were 7. At each visit, the team recorded height, weight, body fat, waist and hip circumference and sleep habit information to get the most complete picture yet of how sleep patterns are connected to childhood health.
Taveras rated the children’s sleep according to the recommended amounts for their age group set by the National Sleep Foundation and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute—for those under 2, that was more than 12 hours a day; for 3-4 year olds, that was more than 10 hours a day; and for kids 5 to 7, that was more than nine hours daily. At age 7, children with the lowest sleep scores throughout their young lives had the highest rates of obesity and body fat, specifically abdominal fat which other studies have linked to a higher risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
What sets Taveras’ work apart is that it shows how consistently disrupted sleep throughout childhood can have a cumulative effect on health. “This lends more evidence to the fact that insufficient sleep has significant health implications,” she says.
Consistently skimping on shut-eye, especially at an early age, may interfere with appetite hormones that control how hungry and full we feel. And because sleep is an important time for the body’s metabolism to reset itself, sleep deprivation can also skew the body’s circadian clock, changing the body’s ability to burn calories from the diet and leading to higher blood sugar levels.
The researchers recommend that parents maximize their kids’ sleep with healthy practices including consistent bedtime routines, limiting stimulating food and drink–especially caffeine-containing beverages–and eliminating electronic devices like televisions or mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms.
Need help getting Baby to sleep? Here’s what you need to know now!
Image: Sleeping toddler, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Sleep-training techniques that fall into the controversial “cry-it-out” category are actually effective and do not cause psychological harm if conducted in a controlled, consistent way, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Time.com has more:
The study looked at two sleep-training methods known as controlled comforting and camping out, both of which let babies cry it out for short amounts of time. Controlled comforting requires the parent to respond to their child’s cries at increasingly longer intervals to try to encourage the baby to settle down on her own. In camping out, the parent sits in a chair next to the child as he learns to fall asleep; slowly, over time, parents move the chair farther and farther away, until they are out of the room and the infant falls asleep alone.
While neither strategy is as extreme as letting babies cry all night by themselves, they have been criticized over concerns that they may cause long-term emotional or psychological harm in babies, interfere with their ability to manage stress or cripple their relationship with their parents.
The new study by Australian researchers involved 326 children who had parent-reported sleep problems at 7 months. Half of the babies were put in the sleep-training group, in which parents learned helpful bedtime routines as well as the controlled-comforting or camping-out technique (parents could choose which strategy they wanted to use), and half were put in a control group that did not use sleep-training. The researchers followed up with the participants and their parents five years later. (By the study’s end, about 30% of families had dropped out.)
By age 6, the researchers found no significant differences between the kids in either group in terms of emotional health, behavior or sleep problems. In fact, slightly more children in the control group had emotional or behavioral problems than in the sleep-trained group.
Researchers also found no differences in mothers’ levels of depression or anxiety, or in the strength of parent-child bonds between families who had used sleep-training and those who hadn’t.
Image: Crying baby in crib, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment