Washington D.C.: According to a recent study, babies who are less active get less sleep, something new parents may want to consider when looking for possible solutions for the long, sleepless nights.
The research was published in the Journal of Infant Behavior and Development and is one of the first to focus on the connection between common health behaviors in babies.
According to the study, napping doesn't help either. In fact, babies who slept less at night, yet napped more during the day, still weren't able to get as much sleep overall as those who slept more at night. Plus, the tired tots weighed significantly more based on their length, indicating a potential risk for early-onset obesity.
"We know physical activity and sleep influence each other and are strongly associated with growth in older children and adults. Our findings suggest that this association could emerge as early as infancy, a critical developmental period," said Janet Hauck, an assistant professor of kinesiology.
Hauck's research centers around the effect, physical activity, such as tummy time, has on babies as they grow and develop. Tummy time is exactly that - the time babies are positioned on their stomachs and encouraged to develop motor skills while supervised.
"While we don't have evidence yet that tummy time directly affects sleep, it increases physical activity and promotes healthy weight gain. So, parents who feel their baby isn't sleeping enough could promote tummy time during the day to boost their baby's physical activity level," added Hauck said.
The study analysed 22 healthy six-month-old infants and monitored physical activity level and sleep over 24 hours. Weight and length were also measured.
"Babies who slept less overall in the 24 hours and had the least amount of nighttime sleep had more overnight feedings and were significantly less active during the day," Hauck stated.
She also highlighted that those infants who slept longer than 12 hours in a day had a better weight-for-length score, around the 53rd percentile than those who slept fewer than 12 hours and weighed more.
"Parents can make 12 hours of sleep or more a priority for their baby by creating a bedtime routine and being consistent with it. While their little one is awake, they should encourage physical activity by interacting with their baby during floor time activities and do supervised tummy time several times a day," Hauck concluded.