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Infant Sleep And Its Relation With Cognition And Growth

Description: Sleep is the most important part of a baby’s life. Here, we’ll provide you with science-backed information about an infant’s sleep and how it impacts cognitive development and physical growth. We’ll also discuss how to get a baby to sleep.

Infant Sleep and Its Relation With Cognition and Growth

We, as new parents or parents-to-be, must consider numerous factors to enable our kids to grow and develop properly. We know everything about the best baby stuff and toys, the most responsible of us are even aware of such things as diapers expiration (wow!). But what do we know about the most important part of every baby’s life – sleep? 

According to a study, baby sleep is a vital brain activity for cognition and physical growth. So, it’s extremely important for every parent to learn this theme deeper and establish an adequate sleep routine for kids.

We’ve teamed up with experts to create this post and empower you with evidence-based information on the role of sleep in the early years. You’ll also find here recommendations on how to get the baby to sleep. After all, a little one who gets a quality nap and good night’s rest is far more tolerant, patient, and engaging.   

Why Do Babies Need A Healthy Sleep?

All parents know instinctively that infants need quality, uninterrupted zzz’s. But unfortunately, many of us struggle to improve our own and our baby’s sleep patterns. Some lifestyle factors like a busy schedule, long working days, various commitments push back bedtimes and kids sometimes miss naps. If it happens too often, it can seriously affect brain development and increase the chances of behavioral and learning issues in the future.

Here is why your infant needs a good sleep:   

  • It enhances brain development – when a kid gets enough sleep, it helps increase his/her grey matter – brain tissue. It’s especially important during the first three years of life. 
  • It enhances learning – the baby’s brain is always busy during the night sleep; research has shown that kids who take naps have a better memory. 
  • It improves health – children with sleep disorders are prone to heart-related problems, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. 
  • It boosts growth- growth hormone is produced most effectively during sleep, hence insufficient sleep leads to a deficiency of this hormone.  

Healthy Infant’s Sleep

As we touched on above, a baby’s healthy sleep must be long and uninterrupted. It means that the kid has to get good sleep without being woken up by noises, lights, or other distractions. Furthermore, infant shut-eye should be in sync with the internal clock. Simply put, your baby should catch zzz’s when he/she wants to or feels like sleeping.

Here is a baby sleep chart:

Kid’s age Total sleep hours Night sleep Daytime nap
Newborn 16  up to 9 not less than 8
1 month 15.5  up to 9 not less than 7
3 months 15  up to 10 not less than 4
6 months 14 up to 10 not less than 4
9 months 14  up to 11 not less than 3
12 months 14  up to 11 not less than 3
18 months 13.5  up to 11 not less than 2.5
24 months 13  up to 11 not less than 2

Baby Sleep Regression: Is It A Problem?

Don’t worry, sleep regression in babies is totally ok. It’s a period when a baby starts fighting sleep although he/she has formerly been a perfect sleeper. Sleep regression may occur at any age, but the first one usually hits at 2-6 months and lasts 2-4 weeks. During this period a baby can experience problems with settling down when it comes to daytime naps or wakes up in the middle of the night. 

What may cause a sleep regression? Why baby won’t sleep?

  • An illness, e.g., cold, ear infection, allergies, etc.
  • Teething pain
  • Reaching a new milestone
  • Disruption in routines, e.g., starting a daycare
  • Traveling
  • Fatigue

How To Get A Baby To Sleep?

Swaddle

Keeping a tight swaddle allows the baby to feel like in the womb – safe and snug. Plus, it prevents them from startling themselves awake, so your newborn will sleep better and longer. However, swaddling is good for newborns (up to 2 months).

Sleep training baby

When your little one is 4 months or older, it’s time to sleep training him/her – let your baby self-soothe in the crib. 

  • Do not rock him/her to sleep 
  • Do not feed him/her to sleep
  • Do not rush, give the baby some time to settle down.

Be patient, sleep training takes time, but the result is worth it!

Consider room temperature

The room temperature in the nursery must be cool and consistent – up to 

73 degrees Fahrenheit. And do not over-bundle your baby; this way, it’ll be easier to control his/her temperature. 

Sooth with music or sound

Put your little one in the crib and turn on white noise or baby sleep music. He/she will learn to associate these sounds with shut-eye. 

Keep the music in the lowest settings so that the kid feels comfortable.  

Share the room not the bed

According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should share the room with a baby until he/she is 6 months, but do not share the bed. It reduces the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), helps the baby sleep better, and encourages breastfeeding. 

Create a bedtime routine

Kids of all ages, especially the youngest ones, thrive on structure, routine, and predictability. A consistent bedtime routine will bring order to a chaotic world and help your little one get settled before sleep. 

Hopefully, our post was helpful for you and you found several good recommendations for yourself. If you have your own tips and tricks on how to get a baby to sleep, kindly share them with us in the comment section below! 

 

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