There’s a lot of evidence that poor sleep contributes to weight problems in grownups and kids. For instance, lack of sleep can drive appetite and quash physical activity. But now evidence is mounting that poor sleep—even in infancy—can contribute to the obesity epidemic. The latest report, this one in the journal Sleep, found that babies who sleep longer through the night—and with fewer interruptions—may be less likely to become overweight during their first six months of life. And that’s important because researchers believe that being overweight as an infant may be predictive of future negative health outcomes.

And this isn't the first study to connect these dots. An earlier report out of Harvard found that babies who slept less than 12 hours a day at 6-, 12- and 24-months, were more than twice as likely to be overweight by age 3, than babies who slept roughly up to 14 hours.

What’s really interesting here is that, unlike with adults, a baby who hasn’t slept well isn’t, for instance, blowing off their morning jog. Instead, researchers suspect that parents may be turning to food in order to soothe their babies back to sleep, when perhaps, that’s not actually what their babies need. And that makes sense. After all, babies require a lot of nourishment, especially during those first several weeks. But after that, it’s great for infants to learn to fall asleep without having a bottle or a breast in their mouth. This helps them learn to self-soothe and to get not only more, but better, sleep in the middle of the night. It also teaches little ones to eat better at mealtime and to not need a tiny feed every time they wake.

Of course, parents, especially sleep-deprived new parents, are not mind-readers. It’s hard to know what your newborn wants! And it’s natural to try and soothe your baby back to sleep with what you know your baby likes: A cuddle and a feed. So, the key, really, is to help your baby sleep longer, so there’s less middle-of-the-night guesswork. And that’s where the 5 S’s—which involves soothing babies with shushing, swinging, and swaddling—come in. 

Penn State researchers found that babies whose parents used the 5 S’s (along with some other general parenting tips) slept longer than other babies. And those well-rested infants were half as likely to be overweight by their first birthday than babies whose parents followed a simple dietary plan, including waiting until the baby was 6 months old to offer solids.

SNOO, of course, lends a helping hand, providing the 5 S’s to your baby at each nap and night sleep. Our award-winning bassinet offers babies a low level of rocking and shushing…giving them a tiny bit of help so they can soothe themselves back to sleep without eating. And if your little one fusses more…SNOO gives a bit more help. But rest assured, your baby will let you know if a feed is in order! If, after a minute, SNOO isn’t calming your baby, that usually means your wee one is, in fact, hungry. And that’s when a full tummy really helps to reset the sleep clock...and prepare your baby for even more hours of SNOO-zing. 

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.