Marriage woes link to baby’s sleep troubles

Marriage woes link to baby’s sleep troubles

Mummies and daddies, listen up. Fights, problems in marriage and increasing stress levels in the house can affect your baby adversely.

Marriage woes link to baby’s sleep troublesMarriage instability, talks of divorce, friction between parents and the stress on both mum and dad due to the disagreements; may all cause the child to have sleep issues.  This was revealed by a recent American study.

It’s lead researcher, Anne Mannering, of Oregon State University, said that a child at 9 months whose parents are in a rocky relationship would have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep when he is 18-months-old.

‘The quality of the parents’ relationship can influence the quality of the parent-child relationship and vice versa,’ Mannering told MyHealthNewsDaily

She then added: ‘in addition, other research suggests that stress may negatively impact sleep, and we know that infancy is an important period for the development of sleep patterns.’

The researchers shadowed 350 families starting when the babies were 9-months-old.  They continued to follow the families for nine months.  The children in the study were also adopted.  This rules out any possibility of sleep problems due to shared genes from biological parents to the child.  They then found that the results held true even when taking into account difficult temperaments in the children, anxiety by the parents as well as birth order.

The study offers a look into how babies are able to sense the stress level in their surroundings even at a tender age.  Manning also believe that it is possibly a negative chain effect – marital instability leads to stress within the family system which in turn influence the child’s sleep pattern directly or through parenting.  It is also quite likely that a troubled marriage could cause parents to be less responsive in their care to the child.  However, more research is needed to determine all these possibilities individually.  The study also does not show how the severity of fighting affects the kids; instead it focused on the parents’ thoughts of divorce.

Next in the plans, Manning said her team of researchers would be looking at whether the children’s sleep problems associated with marriage instability last after the age of two.

In the end, what this study essentially shows is how parents of newborns are often unaware that the stress they place on themselves eventually affects the baby.  Hence, in order to reduce the tension level in the house, it is important for parents to learn to relax.

Here are some ways to cope with the stress-level and workload of having a newborn around:


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Sharing is caring: Schedule a timetable of chores for both your spouse and you to share.  Take turns to tend to the baby at night so that your partner can get enough rest as well.  Daddies, your wives might be a SAHM however, that does not mean she sits at home with nothing to do.  Most SAHMs would be able to tell you that it is a full time job which tire them out too.  So husbands need to learn to do their part at home and help out with the newborn.

Squeeze in some me-time: Ensure that both you and your spouse get to spend some time for yourselves.  Once again, take turns in doing so.  Facing the baby and chores 24/7 would do none of you any good.  So take some time (even half an hour a day would suffice!) to do what you like.

Cuddle me in: The newborn should not come in between you and your spouse in a negative way.  Instead, while the baby is asleep, use that time to communicate and spend some time together as a couple.  You have to remember that essentially the family started with the both of you. [/stextbox]

Meanwhile, as you work on maintaining a good relationship with each other, we have also come up with some ways to ensure your child get a good night’s rest.


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Slow things down: As bedtime approaches, quiet the activity level in the house. Television, music, and high-octane running around can be replaced with reading and quiet play as you prepare for your child’s bedtime ritual.

Bath, bed, repeat: Create a bedtime routine that you can follow nightly. Maybe it’s bath, then PJs, followed by a book and a back rub. Your child’s routine should be quiet, soothing, and enjoyable for you both.

Set that bedtime: Once you’ve picked a bedtime for your child, stick with it. Toddlers ages 1-3 should be sleeping from 12-14 hours a night. (The National Sleep Foundation has recommendations for sleep amounts for children from infancy to adolescence.) Whatever time you pick, remember—consistency is the key.

Don’t skip the naps: Skimping on naps won’t make babies more apt to sleep. Also, it’s best to put your child when she’s sleepy, not exhausted or actually asleep. This way, she’s better able to develop self-soothing techniques that will help her fall asleep on her own.[/stextbox]So if you and your spouse have a good marital life with good sleeping habits, this will get passed on to your child.  At the end of the day, children are often molded according to how their parents were and their surroundings.  So share with us your thoughts.  Do you have other ways of keeping the marriage alive and heathy?

Source: MSNBC, psychologytoday

Photo  credit: aechempati on

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Written by

Wafa Marican

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