HOW well your baby sleeps through the night could be a crucial indicator into their future health.
A study has found children who get a good sleep in the first months of their life could stave off obesity when they are older.
Researchers at US hospitals tested the theory on newborns and their sleep patterns.
They found how the babies slept for the months after they were born are crucial.
Just one additional hour of sleep cuts the risk of them being overweight by 26 per cent.
On top of this infants that woke up less in the night were less likely to gain excess weight.
Scientists think, although it’s unclear exactly why, getting more sleep sets up a routine feeding practices and self-regulation – which stops overeating.
Study co-author Susan Redline, MD, MPH, senior physician in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at the Brigham, said: “While an association between insufficient sleep and weight gain is well-established in adults and older children, this link has not been previously recognized in infants.
“In this study, we found that not only shorter nighttime sleep, but more sleep awakenings, were associated with a higher likelihood of infants becoming overweight in the first six months of life.
“This study underscores the importance of healthy sleep at all ages.
“Parents should consult their paediatricians on the best practices to promote healthy sleep, like keeping consistent sleep schedules, providing a dark and quiet space for sleeping, and avoiding having bottles in bed.”
Redline and other colleagues looked at 298 newborns born at a Massachusetts General Hospital, monitoring their sleep patterns using ankle devices.
Researchers extracted three nights’ worth of data at the one and six-month marks while parents kept sleep diaries, recording their children’s sleep and wake episodes.
To collect growth measurements, scientists measured infant height and weight and determined their body mass index.
Babies were classified as overweight if they fell into or above the 95th percentile on the World Health Organization’s growth charts.
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