Ignoring your infant's sleep problems can lead to toddler troubles
Getting your baby to sleep through the night is one of the toughest challenges of parenthood. But if you’re banking on the problem resolving itself or just learning to deal with being up all night, you might be making a risky bet. You could be setting your child up for behavioral problems during the toddler years, at least that’s what a new study suggests.
A study recently published in Developmental Neuropsychology shows that infants who woke frequently throughout the night were more likely to have behavioral problems and difficulty concentrating once they reached 3 and 4 years old.
In the first study of its kind, a group of 1 year old babies were put to bed wearing devices on their wrists to monitor their sleep and determine how often they were waking at night. The same kids were then studies at 3 or 4 years of age. They were given computerized attention tests and their parents were surveyed to determine any behavioral problems that had occurred.
The results showed significant predictive correlations between fragmented infant sleep (frequent night wakings) and toddler attention regulation and behavioral problems. What has been suggested for years has now objectively been proven - babies that don’t sleep through the night struggle as toddlers.
The reasons why babies experience night wakings can vary widely. Oftentimes, babies are not getting enough total sleep in a 24-hour period which leads to them being overtired and causes them to wake frequently at night. Babies may also wake during the night because they like the attention they get from mom & dad. Some babies get in the habit of being fed during the night although this is unnecessary for most babies past 4 or 5 months of age.
In most cases, night wakings can be eliminated when parents are armed with a plan. Yes, parents have to take the lead. On average, it only takes about two weeks to get babies sleeping through the night when a plan is being followed consistently. And now we know that it’s even more important than ever to accomplish this.
How well does your baby sleep at night?