Parenting

Journal Studies

Post-deployment programs that address parenting would be helpful, especially for families with children from birth through age 5, as this age group is particularly vulnerable to changes in attachment patterns.

While it is well known that traumatic or extended separations negatively impact child development, even week-long separations that occur within the first two years of life have lasting consequences on child behavior.

Infants with night-wakings were more likely to be boys, be breastfed, have a difficult temperament, come from a large family, have a depressed mother, be in a single-parent home, and/or attend fewer hours of non-parental child care; however, this tendency for more night-wakings tended to resolve by 18 months.

In solitary sleep arrangements, mothers were more involved in nighttime parenting than fathers, and breastfeeding was related to less father involvement. More father involvement early on predicted fewer night-wakings by 6 months.

Child sleep problems are based more on culturally-influenced parental perceptions than actual biological reasons, and nighttime sleep issues tended to be perceived more problematic than daytime naps.

More research is needed to identify normal sleep patterns in breastfed versus bottle-fed infants, in toddlers, on weekdays versus weekends, and as related to gender and ethnic differences. What is known is that children sleep longer at night and experience fewer night-wakings and daytime naps as they develop.

Exclusively breastfed infants had less colic and fussiness, and slept longer. Melatonin, which promotes sleep, available only in breastmilk, showed a clear relationship to infant sleep patterns.

More research is needed to identify what is normal when it comes to child sleep. Some of what is known is that children need longer nighttime sleep until about 9 years old. By school age, most children sleep through the night, but children up to 3 1/2 years old continue to wake at least once. Low birth-weight and pre-term infants sleep more. Infants of younger mother sleep more. All infants sleep longer at night, wake multiple times at night, and sleep longer daytime naps than young children who mostly stop taking naps by 5 years old. Girls sleep longer than boys. Children with siblings sleep less.

As infants grew older, mothers provided less nurturing touch, patting and stroking but more tickling and static touch.

Touch is needed for social-emotional and physical development and well-being. In addition, there are therapeutic benefits of massage.

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