Life Parenting
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What’s the one thing most parents lack, new parents desperately want and all of us physically need? Obviously as anyone with a child could tell you, the answer to that riddle is good old fashioned sleep.

We all know that getting a decent amount of shuteye is good for the brain, body and soul. We also know that giving our bodies a rest is a surefire way to maintain a healthy body weight (coupled with a good diet and exercise, of course). But as it turns out, that last tidbit also rings true when it comes to our kids.

A new study from Penn State’s College of Medicine reveals that infants with healthy sleep habits may have a lower risk of developing obesity later on in life. Basically, in order to test out that theory, researchers broke parents into two groups. One group was given information on healthy sleep habits and bedtime routines, while the other was handed some info about preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

As it turned out, the parents who received the sleep info had children who were roughly 50 per cent less likely to have developed obesity by the time they were a year old. But there are a few rubs to that data.

As part of the “obesity prevention” educational materials, parents in the first group were controversially encouraged not to feed their children when they awoke in the middle of the night or to rock them back to sleep. That little bit aside, we were interested to hear that some of the other components of the program included establishing a good bedtime routine and working on longer sleep patterns. Turns out that means putting your kids to bed earlier, rather than letting them stay up in hopes of them tiring out and then sleeping for longer.

In fact according to the study’s research, putting kids to bed later could actually result in your child getting even less sleep. The thinking goes that they’re bound to wake up in the middle of the night either way. Also interesting? Apparently the parents in the “educated” group also had kids with “more consistent bedtime routines, earlier bedtimes, better sleep-related behaviours and longer sleep during the night.”

Which all leads us to believe that the important step here is establishing a good bedtime routine — whatever that happens to entail for you. Some parents like to give a bath and a baby massage before putting their kiddie into his or her favourite sleeper; others rely on a Sleep Sheep and pacifier. Either way it’s clear that getting your kids to bed at a decent time with a regular schedule is going to benefit both of you — not just in terms of your future weights, but in terms of your overall sanity, too.

Now if only we could all train ourselves not to dream of that extra slice of cake.