Could your baby’s sleep schedule be putting him at risk for childhood obesity? According to a study from researchers at the University of Washington and UCLA, babies who get too little sleep at night—classified as less than 10 hours of shut eye a night—may be at higher risk for developing weight problems in childhood. Published online September 6, 2010, in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the study looked at data taken from a nationwide survey in 1997 and 2002 and found that babies and children (ages 0 to 4 years old) who did not sleep enough at night were 80 percent more likely to be obese five years later compared to other children with normal sleep patterns.
In a CNN Health piece on the study, study authors also said that napping is not a substitute for sleeping at night because day and nighttime sleep serve different functions. According to researchers, daytime naps may help reduce stress and help a child be more alert to learn, while nighttime sleep involves "complex biological, psychological and restorative functions."
How much should Baby be sleeping? According to recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, newborns (birth to 2 months) need 10.5 to 18 hours while infants (2 to 12 months) require 14 to 15 hours a night. Sound impossible to work in so much snooze time? Babies, of course, will wake during the night, but sleep experts agree that parents can maximize sleep time in young children through routines and bedtime rituals including sticking to a schedule (sticking with the same approximate time each night for Baby’s last feeding), creating an optimal sleep environment (low noise and light), and avoiding TV or videos playing in the background as you put Baby down for the night.