Sleep, baby, sleep: parents' behavior has direct impact on children's slumber

Apr 08, 2008

Parents who want their babies to sleep through the night would be wise to avoid co-sleeping arrangements or feeding their children evening snacks beyond early infancy. According to a Université de Montréal study published in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the way parents put their babies to bed has a direct impact on how well children sleep when they reach four to six years old.

Some 987 mothers and fathers with five-month-old tots were recruited to answer questionnaires about their children. Parents detailed their offspring’s psychological characteristics, socio-demographic factors and sleep habits until they reached six years in age. They also recorded sleep habits or disturbances: bad dreams, total sleep time and delays in falling asleep.

“Few studies have investigated how parenting can affect sleep in children,” explained lead researcher Valérie Simard, from the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal and its affiliated Sacré-Coeur Hospital, who completed her study with colleagues Toré Neilsen, Richard Tremblay, Michel Boivin and Jacques Montplaisir.

The study asked parents to report on their own behavior at their child’s bedtime. For instance, whether parents lulled children to sleep, laid them down awake, or stayed with them until they slumbered. Mothers and fathers were also questioned on how they reacted to night awakenings – did they comfort children in bed, take them out of bed, give them food or bring them to the parental bed for co-sleeping"

Predictors of sleep

The researchers found that the manner 29-to-41-month-old toddlers were put to sleep influenced how they would slumber between the ages of four to six. Parenting behaviors that most affected children’s sleep included:

-- Giving children food or drink after they awoke, which provoked bad dreams, sleep of less than 10 hours or delays in falling back asleep.

-- Co-sleeping with children when they awoke delayed their falling back asleep by 15 minutes.

Staying with children at the beginning of sleep, conversely, appeared protective against delays in slumber. “Giving children food or drink – effective parenting strategies for early sleep problems – can later become inappropriate,” said Simard. “Since mothers come to believe that infants cry only when hungry, they might adopt an inappropriate response of giving food or drink when 29 to 41-month-old toddlers awake, which in turn causes bad dreams and shorter total sleep when children reach four to six years old.”

Beyond parental behavior, Simard cautions, babies can develop poor sleep patterns on their own that affect them into preschool years and beyond. “Parents often opt for co-sleeping as a reaction, but co-sleeping is not the best option to prevent future sleep difficulties. Co-sleeping and other uncommon parental behaviors have negative consequences for future sleep.”

Source: University of Montreal

Explore further: New drug sales help boost Novartis Q1 profit (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

6 minutes ago

About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for us. Looking through the portholes of the submersible ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

36 minutes ago

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

1 hour ago

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Sea floor conditions mimicked for drilling platforms

1 hour ago

Mobile jack-up drilling platforms used in the oil and gas industry are at risk of rejection before installation due to their use in harsher environments and deeper waters—but University of WA scientists ...

Recommended for you

Amgen misses 1Q views as higher costs cut profit

Apr 22, 2014

Despite higher sales, biotech drugmaker Amgen's first-quarter profit fell 25 percent as production and research costs rose sharply, while the year-ago quarter enjoyed a tax benefit. The company badly missed ...

Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

Apr 22, 2014

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist investor Bill Ackman have unveiled details of their offer to buy Botox maker Allergan, proposing a cash-and-stock deal that could be worth about $45.6 billion.

User comments : 0

More news stories

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Breast cancer replicates brain development process

New research led by a scientist at the University of York reveals that a process that forms a key element in the development of the nervous system may also play a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...