Babies who don’t get enough sleep have an increased risk of obesity in childhood, according to a Harvard study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Infants who slept less than 12 hours a day were twice as likely to be overweight than those who slept more, and the effect was most pronounced among those who watched more than two hours of TV per day. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
That’s one more reason to turn off the television set, said Chantal Britt in Bloomberg.com. TV—and video games, and the Internet—can make it harder for little ones to get to sleep. And these findings certainly support common-sense efforts to “promote adequate rest to prevent excessive weight, which affects about one in four children between 2 and 5 years old.”
“I always knew having a baby that didn’t sleep well was bad for a parent’s mental health,” said Katie Ryan O’Connor in the Lower Hudson Valley Journal News' Ice cream is not for breakfast blog, but this is the first evidence that it’s “also bad for the baby.” So find a “cheerful, soothing routine” and stick to it—“bottle, bath, book, bed.” It’s “supremely comforting for babies.” And the next step is “learning not to leap at every cry or fuss.”
“Calming strategies” often just make the problem worse, said Tiffany Sharples in Time.com. Another study published in the same journal found that parents who comforted babies who couldn’t sleep, instead of letting them cry it out, often kept it up until their kids turned 3, leading “to disrupted sleep—bad dreams” and trouble sleeping—in preschoolers.