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Research suggests breastfeeding and income affect babies’ sleep

Author James Dunsford
Submitted 10-06-2008

A lack of sleep is one of the main problems facing new moms and dads, as they develop the parenting skills necessary to get up several times a night to tend to their baby.

Although there are a number of reasons why infants often do not sleep through the night, new research from Harvard Medical School has suggested that maternal depression, breastfeeding and a lower socioeconomic status could affect a baby’s sleep.

The study looked at 1,676 six-month old children and found that babies in households with lower than average income, or where the mother has a limited education, slept 0.94 hours less a day than the average of 12.2 hours.

Meanwhile, babies who were being breastfed at six months or whose mother had a history of depression during her pregnancy were also likely to get less sleep.

Those who find it difficult to get their babies to sleep are not alone – research suggests that 22 per cent of nine-month-olds have difficulty settling down and 42 per cent wake frequently in the night

However, help is at hand for those moms and dads who dream of a full night’s rest, as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has come up with parenting advice on the subject.

It recommends establishing a relaxing setting at bedtime and following a consistent routine, which includes allowing ten to 30 minutes to prepare the infant for bed.

In addition, the academy suggests that parents do not let their baby fall asleep while it is being held, rocked or fed.