Good sleep habits can help children shed the baby fat that can lead to lifelong weight and health problems. Coupled with healthy food choices, portion control and regular exercise, pediatric experts say teaching your children good sleep habits during their infant and toddler years can significantly decrease their risk of developing obesity later in life.
Concerned about the growing problem of childhood obesity, the Institute of Medicine released a report last week recommending that obesity prevention begin well before children reach school age. According to the report, more than 1 in 10 America infants and toddlers are overweight and too often that baby fat doesn’t disappear. Between the ages of 2 and 5, more than 1 in 5 children are packing on enough pounds to be considered overweight. Studies have shown that chunky children will continue to fight the battle of the bulge throughout their lives and are likely as adults to struggle with obesity and the chronic health problems it incurs.
Recent research emphasizes the import role early childhood sleep habits play in protecting children from later obesity. The Institute recommends that children receive the following daily amounts of sleep:
- Newborns (under 3 months): 10.5-18 hours
- Infants (3-12 months): 9-12 hours at night with 1 to 4 30-minute to 2-hour naps during the day
- Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours
Nighty Night videos and CDs can help children fall asleep and get the healthful sleep they need.