Can Tummy Time Promote Healthy Sleep Patterns?
Is your baby getting enough sleep at night? A lack of physical activity during the day may be the cause of frequent waking, according to a new study from Michigan State University.
The research, published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, suggests that babies who are less active during the day get less sleep at night. Scientists examined the effect physical activity, such as tummy time, has on babies as they grow and develop. Tummy time positions babies on their stomachs while being supervised by an adult. It is thought to tire youngsters out by testing their motor skills long before they do so with baby food.
"We know physical activity and sleep influence each other and are strongly associated with growth in older children and adults," said Janet Hauck, an assistant professor of kinesiology, who specializes in infant motor intervention research. "While we don't have evidence yet that tummy time directly affects sleep, it increases physical activity and promotes healthy weight gain," Hauck said.
The research also reminds parents just how important sleep is for our little ones in connection to healthy weight gain. Findings from the study show that sleep promotes healthy weight gain, with those in the study who got more than 12 hours a day landing around the 53rd percentile, while the babies who got less shut eye weighed more.
This study supports previous research that linked plenty of sleep in the first six months of a baby's life to a healthy weight. Insufficient shut eye at two months old has even been found to affect an infant's size six years later.
According to the research, "Parents can make 12 hours of sleep or more a priority for their baby by creating a bedtime routine and being consistent with it," Hauck said. "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."