Parents may want to start singing those lullabies earlier in the evening. A new study has found that babies who crash earlier are less likely to be overweight at age one.
Having a healthy weight at age one can translate to achieving a healthy weight in adulthood, according to researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine.
Obese babies may grow up to become adults who have a more difficult time shedding excess weight, which could lead to obesity and other health issues.
In addition to earlier bedtimes, the researchers recommend letting babies cry instead of feeding them if they wake up during the night.
Crying Vs. Feeding
Feeding a crying baby may be a quick and easy way to soothe them, but researcher Jennifer Savage believes that letting babies self-soothe may be more beneficial to their health in the long run.
“We don’t want parents to use feeding to soothe their baby if the baby isn’t hungry,” Savage told the Daily Mail, adding that tears don’t always translate to a growling tummy. “Crying is one of the last things a baby is likely to do if they are hungry.”
Instead of rushing in to feed a child, Savage suggests that parents let babies learn how to put themselves back to sleep.
Taking away the expectation that crying means a parent will come in to feed can help babies learn to self-soothe. As a result, they may not overeat, which could reduce the risk of encountering problems with obesity in adulthood.
Earlier bedtimes also triumph over later ones when it comes to sleep duration, the researchers found.
At nine months, babies who were put to bed by 8 PM and allowed to cry if they woke up slept for longer stretches (almost an hour and half longer) than babies with later bedtimes. They were also half as likely to be overweight by age one.
The study is published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.