Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rock-a-bye Baby – or Else!

Parents of young kids have plenty of stress on them (or so I’ve heard). The formative years from conception to age 30 – when they finally move out of the house – are crucial to the development of good, decent, tax-paying members of society.

There are so many things to consider. Make sure you take prenatal vitamins. Read to the kid in the womb. Baby Einstein or Barney? Organic strained carrots or the regular stuff? Cloth or Pampers? Day care or stay-at-home parent?

Now a new study suggests another possibility for worry. The recently published Harvard study suggests that babies and toddlers who get less than 12 hours of sleep a day have a higher risk for being overweight by the time they get to preschool.

Preschool. Now we’re worrying about kids being overweight in preschool. Who ever used to think of that? I carried a lot of chunk around when I was in preschool – and elementary, junior high, high school, college and on up until today. But back then, it wasn’t viewed as anything more than a slice or two of Velveeta too many.

Now a study comes out that shows lack of sleep for kids in this age group means the likelihood of the kid growing up “husky” (as my mom used to call it) jumps as much as 12 percent.

Throw in watching television and the number balloons to 17 percent. So now it seems that nearly two out of every 10 non-sleeping, TV-watching babies has a higher likelihood of being overweight. And they haven’t even had the option of making their own bad judgments, like a Dr Pepper and Hostess Cupcake lunch in the school cafeteria.

The bottom line, experts say, is to get kids on a regular sleeping schedule. Make sure they get exercise. Don’t let them watch too much TV. All of which is good advice that should help you have a healthier kid.

I just wonder if we’re spooking ourselves too much with these studies. I wonder sometimes why parents just don’t lock their kids into hermetically sealed rooms and leave them there until they’ve passed the FCAT.

The fact is, simply by being born we’re exposing them to danger. Are we really helping things by worrying about every single thing that may or may not occur, based on a study? Probably not.

So don’t worry if your kid sleeps 11 hours instead of 12. If he gains a few extra pounds, make whatever adjustments you can. But losing sleep over every health study that comes down the pike won’t do anybody any good.

--Scott Samples
Public Information Coordinator

No comments: