Research Shows That Regular Bedtimes And Mealtimes Reduce The Risk Of Childhood Obesity

Could letting your toddler stay up late now cause weight problems when he or she is a teenager? According to a recent study, young children who do not have a consistent sleep schedule are nearly two times more likely to be obese by age 11 than preschoolers with set bedtimes.

How much sleep do kids need? This chart shows you at what age you should put your kids to bed. The Sleep Foundation recommends 11 to 14 hours for toddlers aged 1 to 2, and 10 to 13 hours for preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 5.

RELATED: This Chart Shows You When You Should Put Your Kids To Bed

A 2010 study by one of the same researchers found that regular evening meals as well as limited screen time also lower the risk of obesity. In fact, when combined with set bedtimes, mealtime routines and limited screen time are linked to a 40 percent lower incidence of obesity. That’s compelling evidence to keep your kids on a schedule!

Getting a small child accustomed to a regular bedtime may seem challenging. But there are some tried-and-true methods that can help you get your little one on a sleep schedule and possibly prevent obesity as well.

1. Nix Late Naps

Sleeping too late or too long in the afternoon can keep your preschooler wide awake come bedtime. Look for ways to adjust naptimes, such as getting your child up 15 minutes earlier and rousing them from lengthy naps.

Flickr | Jessica Lucia

2. Establish A Bedtime Routine

Bedtime rituals will give your preschooler consistency and signal to their brain that it is time to prepare for sleep. Taking a warm bath, brushing teeth and reading a story are calming ways to get ready for bed.

toddler brushing teeth photo
Flickr | makelessnoise

3. Turn Off Screens

Electronic devices such as TVs, phones and tablets emit a blue light, which suppresses melatonin, a hormone that controls circadian rhythm. Shut them down at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

toddler ipad photo
Flickr | dickdotcom

4. Create A Restful Environment

Make sure your preschooler’s bedroom is conducive to sleep. Decorate with soothing colors, provide comfortable bedding and keep the temperature cool at night.

toddler bed photo
Flickr | Wicker Paradise

5. Stick With It

Put kids to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends and vacations. Not only might this consistency prevent obesity later, it will also promote other good habits and can even prevent behavioral issues.

goodnight photo
Flickr | Sander van der Wel

[h/t: NPR The Salt]