Mums, do you know how much sleep does your child need every day?

Mums, do you know how much sleep does your child need every day?

Know about that and other benefits of sleep for your baby in this article.

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You'd be surprised to see how much your baby sleeps after he arrives! They may sleep for at least 18 hours out of the 24 hours for the first few weeks. This is perfectly normal with the little ones.

You may also notice that they may not sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours at a stretch.You may be sleep deprived with your little one around you and so, you may find this phase of your baby like an eternity. Be patient and let your baby get the fullest of its sleep which will help it to develop its emotional, behavioral and physical health. 2

The importance of sleep for a newborn


Sleep is important for the wellbeing of a baby throughout its lifetime. For the brain to function properly, sleep is very essential. It also helps in the overall growth and development. Sleep helps the child to make decisions, pay attention and be alert. 3

1. On an average, newborn babies sleep for 16 hours. When they are of 3 months, they may still need at least 15 hours of sleep. Your baby follows its own sleep cycle which is similar to what you experience i.e. from drowsiness to light sleep after which there is deep sleep followed by dreams. This is the phase when there are rapid eye movements. 4

2. Understand that sleep is as important for your baby as it is for you. In the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, states that sleep is the power source that keeps the mind alert and calm. It also increases brainpower and attention span and allows a person to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time.

Continue reaidng on the next page to read about the other benefits of sleep!

3. Extraordinary amount of learning happens in infants. You may be wondering how this happens when your baby sleeps for most of the day. The answer to this is ‘sleep’.

4. The naps your babies take promote changes in memory and gives greater flexibility in learning.5Research states that children having sleep-related problems may show cognitive and language deficits. 6

5. Changes in the brain are enhanced by a good sleep. The growth and development of the neural circuitry is the basis of brain development.

6. Sleep helps control behavior, gain memory and learn new things and overall sleep has an effect on brain plasticity i.e. our ability to change to environmental inputs.

7. Sleeping helps your baby restore energy and build brain connections. It also helps in the physical growth of your little one.7 Research states that fragmented sleep in children who are less than 3.5 years old can cause low cognitive performance, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)and impulsivity. They may even suffer from problems associated with neurological development.

How much sleep does you child need

While your baby is growing, it needs various growth hormones to initiate several biological processes occurring in the blood, bone, and muscles. One of the most important hormones is the human growth hormone (HGH). Its release is affected by numerous factors like stress, nutrition, and exercise.

In babies, sleep plays a pivotal role in releasing this hormone. Generally, HGH is produced all throughout the day. But in babies, it is released while the baby is in the beginning of a deep sleep. Though the release is for a short duration of time, the release is intense. 8With sufficient sleep, your baby’s brain may produces a chemical that may control hunger and weight. 9

  1. Every child’s requirement of sleep is different. Some may need more sleep and some may need less. In general, observation is that a 1-2-year-old needs at least 11 to 14 hours of sleep and a 3 to 5-year-old needs 10 to 13 hours of sleep every day.8
  2. Importance of sleep can be understood when you notice the consequences of insufficient sleep in your baby. It may be tired which may make it cranky and agitated. You may experience trouble while feeding your baby.1011
  3. Insufficient sleep may cause conditions like insomnia (habitual sleeplessness), sleep walking, sleep talking, nightmares etc. When you notice any of these signs, make sure to visit your pediatrician.9
  4. When your baby sleeps, make sure you try to sleep near your baby at the same time. Settle your baby to a sound sleep for his/her healthy life ahead.

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[Images courtesy:]
1Establishing good sleep habits- newborns to three months. Baby center Accessed September 14, 2016.
2Dahl Sleep and the developing brain. Sleep 2007 Sep 1; 30(9): 1079– Accessed September 14, 2016.
3Why is sleep important? The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website. Accessed September 14, 2016.
Understanding your baby’s sleep. Baby center website. Accessed September 14, 2016.
4Gómez RL.  Bootzin RR. Nadel L. Naps promote abstraction in language learning infants. PsycholsciAug;17(8):670-4. Accessed September 14, 2016.
5Hupbach A.  Gomez RL.  Bootzin RR.  Nadel L.Nap dependent learning in infants. Dev Sci.2009 Nov;12(6):1007-12. doi: 10.1111/ Accessed September 14, 2016.
6Sleep in early life may play crucial role in brain development. UCSF website. Accessed September 14, 2016.
7The connection between sleep and growth. Babycenter website. Accessed September 14, 2016.
8Sleep- An important part of healthy development. Oregonstate website. Accessed September 14, 2016.
9Sleep- children and naps. Better health website. Accessed September 14, 2016.
10Connection between sleep and growth- ages 5 to 8. Baby center website. Accessed September 14, 2016.

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