Babies Who Are Active During the Day Get Better Sleep at Night, Study Says

If you want to up the chances of baby having a good night’s sleep, experts say this is what you should be doing.
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profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
November 29, 2018
happy active baby doing tummy time
Image: Ken Oka / Getty Images

Parents will try just about everything when it comes to getting baby to sleep through the night, and a recent study reveals some helpful intel on the topic. Babies who are less physically active during the day tend to get less sleep overnight, according to New Michigan State University researchers.

The study analyzed 22 healthy 6-month-old infants and monitored their physical activity levels and sleep over a period of 24 hours. It turns out, the babies who had the least amount of sleep overnight, as well as more overnight feedings, were significantly less active during the day.

And if you’re hoping your baby’s naps throughout the day make up for his lack of snoozing at night, that’s probably not the case. In fact, babies who slept less at night, but napped more during the day still weren’t able to get as much sleep overall as those who slept more at night. That’s not all. The not-so-sleepyheads weighed much more based on their length, which could be a warning sign for onset obesity.

You’re probably wondering how active a little one can actually be when they’re merely infants. And while experts don’t expect the tiny tots to have crawling relay races anytime soon, there are ways for you to help your little one get moving. Tummy time is the perfect example. When baby is positioned on her stomach, it encourages her to develop motor skills.

“While we don’t have evidence yet that tummy time directly affects sleep, it increases physical activity and promotes healthy weight gain," says study researcher Janet Hauck. “So, parents who feel their baby isn’t sleeping enough could promote tummy time during the day to boost their baby’s physical activity level.”

The relationship between physical activity and how much sleep a person gets is nothing new. But the study suggests the connection could emerge as early as the infant years, which are a critical time for development.

And when you’ve tried every trick in the book and baby still isn’t sleeping through the night, you’re likely not alone. Much to parents’ dismay, many healthy babies don’t start sleeping through the night even when they’re one year old, says a study in the December 2018 issue of Pediatrics. But don’t despair! For some more ways on how to help baby sleep better, check out these tips.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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