New Zealand babies top survey

Vicky Mair with her 14-month-old daughter Ruby. Photo from The New Zealand Herald.
Vicky Mair with her 14-month-old daughter Ruby. Photo from The New Zealand Herald.
It may seem hard to believe for parents suffering sleepless nights, but New Zealand babies are the best behaved in the world.

An international survey has found Kiwi infants sleep better and go to bed earlier than any other babies worldwide - and, crucially, wake less during the night.

The survey, commissioned by baby product developer Johnson's Baby, examined the sleeping habits of nearly 8000 babies aged 0-36 months in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and the United States.

It found New Zealand babies go to bed earlier, sleep longer at night and during the day, and also wake less often.

The survey also discovered babies here were less likely to be difficult to settle to sleep.

Despite the findings, nearly a third of New Zealand parents believed their baby had a sleep problem.

A further 8% said their baby slept poorly.

The survey said New Zealand babies woke less than average during the night (0.9 times per night), were less likely to sleep in their parents' bedroom (18%) and were more likely to have the same bedtime routine (82%).

Dr Alex Bartle, director of the Sleep Well Clinics, said parents who were worried about their children's sleep patterns needed to focus on routine.

"Establishing a routine is the essence to getting babies to sleep better. For infants up to 6 or 9 months old, parents should try and establish a routine of half-an-hour quiet time before baby is bathed, massaged and put to bed,'' Dr Bartle said.

"For toddlers, parents can allow up to an hour's quiet time before their bedtime routine begins. This routine should consist of pyjamas, teeth, toilet and bed. Once the toddler is in bed, parents can read them a story - then lights out.''

Vicky Mair said she used to worry about her daughter Ruby's sleeping habits.

"I used to worry when she was younger . . . she always seemed to be waking up,'' Mrs Mair said.

"You talk about it with other parents and they say their babies sleep more, so you worry if you're doing something wrong.''

She said a contentious sleeping issue often discussed by parents was whether or not to let a baby cry or to go and get it.

"We decided we would always go in and get her. We thought it was her trying to tell us something".

Mrs Mair agreed with Dr Bartle's comments about the importance of establishing a routine - "it makes sense'' - and welcomed the news Kiwi babies were more settled than others.

"It's fantastic. Long may it continue.''

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