Lack of sleep is one of the biggest challenges every new mom must learn to overcome especially during her baby's first year. He will eventually settle into his own wake-sleep pattern, but until he does you need to deal with middle-of-the-night wakings.
As a mom, of course, you do everything that needs to be done so your baby could sleep better. You make sure the little one is fed, and his nappies are dry and clean. However, there's a simple activity your baby may be missing out that could be the reason why he can't snooze off to slumberland: tummy time!
New research, the first to focus on the connection between health behaviors in babies, suggests that physical activity affects how well and how long he rests and sleeps.
Researchers from Michigan State University observed the physical activity and sleep behaviors of 22 healthy 6-month-old babies. The authors focused on how much time babies spend on their tummies during the day, suggesting that tummy time during the daytime may affect how long they sleep at night.
The results of the study published in Infant Behavior and Development showed that babies who slept less overall in 24 hours also slept the least hours at night and had more nighttime feedings and weighed more. These babies were also significantly less active during the day.
"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, via press release. But more research is needed to find out how tummy time affects sleep.
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A baby who has exerted themselves physically is likely to sleep more than a baby who isn't as active, according to the researchers. It's only natural to feel the need to rest and get some shut-eye after a good workout — and for babies, that exercise routine includes tummy time (one of its top benefits is developing good head control).
Parents should always put their babies to sleep on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome especially when they're below 6 months old. But newborns need their tummy time as soon as coming home from the hospital, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Make sure your little one is awake and alert, and not tired or hungry when doing tummy time. Keep an eye on your baby the whole time he's on his belly, too.
Start by placing your baby belly down on your chest or lap twice or thrice a day for about three to five minutes each time. Do it right after a nap, a diaper change, or a bath, and not when he just fed. Gradually increase tummy time as your little one gets comfy.
Along with other safe sleep practices that encourage your child to learn and adjust to his sleep patterns, your baby may be sleeping for at least as long as six hours during the night. Oh, yeah. That long six-hour stretch o uninterrupted sleep sounds great for you, too, moms!