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Many babies don't sleep through the night as soon as parents expect, study says

"If there was only one thing I could tell parents, it would be do not worry if your infant does not sleep through the night at six months of age," the study's lead researcher, Marie-Hélène Pennestri told NBC News.

Many babies don't sleep through the night as soon as parents expect, study says

It's one of the most common, and often frustrating questions moms of infants hear: "Is she sleeping through the night?" But new research from McGill University suggests parents shouldn't worry if their child doesn't reach this milestone by six months of age or even a year old.

The study, to be published in the December edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, found a large percentage of developmentally normal, healthy babies don't sleep through the night by a year old, and are not at increased risk for delays in cognitive, language or motor development as a result.

"If there was only one thing I could tell parents, it would be do not worry if your infant does not sleep through the night at six months of age," the study's lead researcher, Marie-Hélène Pennestri told NBC News.

Sleeping through the night, also known as consolidating sleep, was defined in the study as six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. At six months of age, 38% of typically developing infants were not yet sleeping six consecutive hours at night, and more than half — 57% — weren't sleeping eight hours. At 12 months old, 28% of infants weren't yet sleeping six hours straight at night, and 43% weren't staying asleep for eight hours.

So if your baby isn't sleeping through the night you are not alone, mama.

One of the biggest takeaways from the study is dispelling the notion that interrupted sleep in the first year could cause developmental problems. "In the present sample of typically developing infants, we were unable to find any significant associations between sleeping through the night at 6 or 12 months of age and variations in mental or psychomotor development," the study concluded.

The researchers gleaned information from a longitudinal birth survey of mothers and their babies and followed the babies until they were three years old. They looked at surveys of parents of 388 infants aged up to six months, then checked in with 360 of them at 12 months.

While sleep undoubtedly plays a fundamental role in child development, total sleep, including naps, might be more important than getting eight consecutive hours, the researchers wrote.

Child development isn't the only concern however when examining infant sleep patterns. Some parents may worry that lack of sleep increases their risk of developing depression. While it's true that sleep is critical for mental health, the researchers also found no direct link between how often babies woke at night, and the mother's postnatal mood, but rather that overall sleep plays a bigger role.

A mom who is able to catch up on sleep and nap during the day for instance, may be less affected by sleep deprivation even if she is up frequently through the night.

"Maternal sleep deprivation is often invoked to support the introduction of early behavioral interventions, but it may be that mothers' expectations about being awakened at night along with the total number of hours they sleep over the course of a day are better predictors of maternal well-being," the study's authors wrote. "It is something that will need to be considered in future studies."

While it wasn't definitively clear to researchers why some babies slept long stretches and others didn't, the researchers did find that babies who were breastfed were more likely to wake up at least once during the night. "This association was present at six and 12 months of age as measured by both the 6-and 8-hour criteria. It's not clear why and more research is needed," the authors wrote, noting that breastfeeding offers many benefits for babies and mothers.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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