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Forget Routine, Babies Need a Happy Mom at Bedtime

Parenting experts recommend routine, routine, routine when it comes to getting the baby down for a long night’s sleep. But bed, bath, book is beside the point, according to a new study in the latest issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.

What matters most? Mom’s attitude. If she’s emotionally present, warm and positive, she ups the chances of her baby sleeping well. If she’s cranky, baby’s cranky. And a cranky baby just won’t sleep.

Researchers tested 39 mothers for the “emotional intelligence” and then videotaped them putting the baby to bed (not enough fathers participated in bedtime routines to be included in the study).

Nursing babies to sleep didn’t make a difference. Neither did lots of close holding and hugging. It was mothers who had a positive attitude and warmth who had the best-slept babies. Irritable mothers’ kids fared the worse.

“Parents’ emotional availability at bedtimes may be as important, if not more important, than bedtime practices in predicting infant sleep quality,” the study says. Feeling safe where one sleeps is a prerequisite to good sleep, researchers say.

If you’re hating these warm glowing mothers, don’t. Researchers found that few moms could maintain that warmth and positivity as their sleeping babies became more obstinate toddlers.

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