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Natural Awakenings

Parenting Tip: Cultivating Sound Slumber

"Few studies have investigated how parenting can affect sleep in children,” explains Valérie Simard, of the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal, who recently recruited nearly 1,000 parents with five-month-old toddlers to answer questionnaires about their children’s sleep, as well as their own behavior at the children’s bedtime. Then, the parents were asked to follow and detail their offsprings’ psychological characteristics, socio-demographic factors and sleep habits up to the age of six.

The researchers found that giving food or drink, which is a known effective strategy for early sleep problems, can become inappropriate as the children get older. Instead, it can provoke bad dreams, causing delays in falling back asleep and reducing overall sleep time. They also learned that parents’ electing to sleep with their children when they awoke tended to delay the little ones’ falling back asleep and created negative consequences for future sleep patterns.

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