7 Benefits Of Sleep For Your Child’s Growth & Development

Babies spend at least 50% of their time sleeping. A good night’s sleep, no doubt makes your baby happy, healthy and smart. This sleep time is very much essential for physical development, social skills development and emotional development of your baby. It is vital to newborns as they grow rapidly within a small period of time.

As a parent, you must have already realized how happy and cheerful your baby will be after a good amount of rest, and how cranky and fussy your baby can be when it has not slept to its content. It always helps to establish good sleep habits to avoid sleep problems later.

In my native tongue, there is an old proverb which means – One who loses sleep, loses his mind as well.”

No doubt that a good nap can make your baby less cranky, less fussy and easy to calm down. In simple words, a good sleep makes your baby behave well, respond well to stimulus and relate well to others.

 

What happens when babies don’t get enough sleep?

Though we may think that sleep is just another natural process, lack of quality sleep can affect your babies’ physical and cognitive growth, emotional and behavioral responses and social skills.

In fact, it may even affect the learning abilities of your baby, may impair growth and even cause obesity.

For babies, losing as less as one hour of sleep per day can show up as sleep deprivation. So, you have to always ensure that you not only meet your baby’s nutritional needs but sleeping needs as well.

Let’s see what lack of quality sleep leads to.

  1. Brain development gets impaired due to lack of sleep. Research has shown that sleep restriction potentially affects the brain activity in children.
  2. Lack of sleep affects the physical growth of your baby as high amounts of growth hormones are released only during sleep. Lack of growth hormones may lead to your baby not growing to full height or not putting on the expected weight.
  3. Sleep deprivation causes the production of higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in the body. This leads to irritability and fussiness throughout the day. Your baby might get anxious and might not show interest in any activities or in learning new skills.
  4. Lack of sleep can indirectly cause obesity in children. A sleep-deprived child will have less amount of the hormone – leptin which signals our brain to stop eating. Low amount of this hormone leads to overeating in children, which in turn leads to obesity.
  5. Sleep deprivation may even lower immunity in children. Children who sleep well are known to be less prone to seasonal infections and other common infant diseases.

Now that you know what sleep deprivation can lead to, let us understand how much sleep to babies really needs.

 

How much sleep do babies need?

#1. Newborns (0-3 months) –

Newborns usually sleep for 15-18 hours a day. Their sleep pattern is rather irregular and last from a few minutes to several hours. At this stage, most babies mostly sleep in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage where the sleep is lighter and can be easily disrupted. This type of sleep is considered to be very important for the brain development of the child.

This is the phase when a baby learns face recognition and bonds with the mother. Sleep disruption in this initial phase can affect a child’s association with the world and with social bonds, later in life. It is very critical to understand sleep signs around this age. Lack of sleep can result in stress and crankiness. Interestingly, products like gentle vibrating mats and white noise devices are now available in the market and can help your baby relax and sleep.

#2. Infants (4-11 months)

Between the age of 4-11 months, babies sleep 14-15 hours a day. Their sleeping pattern will usually be established. Their nap time may vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time. The social skills of the infant develop significantly during this time. If the child feels secure in its environment, it will develop better sleeping patterns.

This is a significant emotional development and can affect sleep patterns and how children behave as they grow older.

#3. Toddlers (1-2 years)

Between 1-2 years of age, your toddler’s nap time reduces to once a day, for a period of 1-3 hours. Their total sleep time also reduces to 11-15 hours per day. At this stage, children assert to be independent and their motor, social and cognitive skills speed up. Toddlers usually love to explore and learn new things at this stage and may not be interested to go to bed.

However, lack of sleep can make them irritable and moody and affect their behavioral skills. This is the time you have to ensure that your child gets quality sleep, and also set a bedtime routine. Better sleep patterns and bedtime routine can have a long-term benefit on the sleeping habits of your child. Please understand that every baby might not have the same sleeping pattern. If your baby looks contented and active after waking up, it indicates that she has had a good slumber.

Do not force your child to sleep when she does not look sleepy or show any indications of wanting to rest. However, if they show signs of wanting to sleep you can help them to settle down into a comfortable mattress or even sing a lullaby.

 

What are the benefits of sleep?

We know what ill-effects sleep deprivation can have on babies, and now it is time to know the benefits of having a good sleep.

Cognitive Benefits:
  1.  A good sleep helps your baby’s brain to restore the resources that were used up throughout the day. A well-rested brain can be calm, learn new information and attempt to pick up new skills.
  2. The attention span of kids who have sufficient sleep is known to be higher than those who lack sleep.
  3.  A well-rested brain can solve problems faster, be more creative and make better decisions.
Physical Benefits:
  1. A good sleep can give the required boost to your child’s growth as maximum quantity of growth hormones are released during sleep.
  2. Good sleep improves immunity and decreases the chances of general health problems and emotional difficulties like anxiety and depression.
Behavioral Benefits:
  1. Babies who sleep well are more energetic and playful. They calm down easily and don’t tend to be fussy.
Social Benefits:
  1. Babies who sleep well maintain good relationships with others and adjust well to new environments.

In general, a baby who sleeps well grows well, learns well and keeps away diseases as well!

 

Tips for better sleep

Here are some tips for a good night’s rest for your baby.

  1. Set a consistent bedtime. Establish a routine throughout the day. It will set their body clock to know that it’s time to zzzzzzzs and they are ready to go to sleep without any fuss.
  2. You can use products that can help your baby sleep better. There are a lot of such products in the market that are safe and very effective such as white noise speakers, gentle vibrating mats and ambient lights to enable your baby to sleep peacefully.
  3. Avoid any stimulating activities like TV, games or videos before bedtime.
  4. Ensure that your baby’s room is dark and quiet.
  5. Always use a comfortable mattress and soft, cotton sheets for your baby.
  6. If your baby is already potty trained or getting potty trained, ensure that they use the washroom before they sleep to get uninterrupted sleep.
  7. Never try to wake up a sleeping baby. Allow your child to wake up on her own.

Dear Parents, no doubt that you also become sleep deprived when your baby does. It just takes an extra effort to help your baby settle down into a daily routine of sleep and play time so that you can also catch a good amount of sleep as well. Your effort will be rewarded as your baby will soon grow to be hale, healthy and cheerful child, who is not only physically strong and a fast learner, but also can manage her emotions as well.

What Is White Noise And How It Helps Your Baby Sleep?

When you have a newborn at home, a good night’s sleep seems like a distant dream. It is not just about frequent feeding sessions and nappy changes that keep you awake. Sometimes, your baby might have difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep.

Pediatricians usually recommend relaxing activities like a warm bath or massage to help babies sleep better. When these techniques don’t work, you can try alternatives like white noise.

For adults, the sound of the sea or calming music is the go-to sounds to help us relax. Similarly, for babies, white noise is found to help them relax and sleep soundly. White noise is one of the most effective, easy and inexpensive sleeping aid for babies.

 

What is White Noise? How does it help your baby sleep?

White noise is a familiar sound that can keep the baby calm and drift them off to sleep. It is a commonly used method of calming a crying or colicky baby to sleep.

Unlike what we assume, your womb is a very noisy place!

When in mother’s womb, babies are surrounded by noise which is a mixture of a heartbeat, rushes of amniotic fluid, breathing sounds of the mother, muffled the sound of mother’s voice and blood flowing. These sounds are comforting to the baby. When babies are born, they feel uncomfortable with the newness as they haven’t gotten used to the outside world and find it difficult to adjust to the relatively calmer environment in the external world. This often leads to stress resulting in constant crying and colic.

White noise is familiar to the baby and that’s why they love white noise. It is like “home” to them. It imitates the familiar sounds of the womb. These repetitive sounds can soothe the baby and drown out other noises that occur in the environment like a noise of appliances such as your dishwasher, vacuum etc and hence help the baby stay asleep.

Babies have something called as “sleep arousals” which is the short interval for which they fall asleep and then wake up for a short duration. Typically, babies sleep soundly for 20-45 mins and then wake up. White noise helps the babies to fall back asleep if they wake up from sleep and help them get quality sleep which is very important for their overall development.

 

Benefits of White Noise

#1. White Noise reduces stress

Are you wondering what babies get stressed about? Well, the answer to that is almost everything. Babies get stressed when they are tired, when they get overwhelmed with the external environment – the faces, the lights an the sounds. White noise comforts them and also helps them cry less. Some white noise machines have a heartbeat setting, such as the NapNap Mat which is similar to the mother’s heartbeat and can be very comforting for the baby.

#2. It helps them sleep better

Babies fall asleep faster when there is white noise in the background as it reduces stress and settles the baby. It also masks other environment sounds like traffic, vacuum, washer etc., and help the baby sleep longer. Babies have sleep arousals when they only nap for 20-30 minutes White noise also helps babies to sail through these arousals and hence enjoy longer and relaxed naps.

#3. White noise also reduces the risk of SIDS

Better sleep is a great way to lower the risk of SIDS and suffocation in babies

#4. White Noise will also help you sleep

Parents wake up every time the baby gets up. White noise can help your baby sleep which will eventually make you sleep.

#5. Can help a colicky baby

By imitating the sound of the womb, white noise offers a comfortable environment by blocking distracting noises an helps your fussy baby settle down.

It is, however, important to understand what precautions to take before you start using white noise. The recommended noise limit for white noise machines for infants is 50 decibels. Also, if your baby cries when you start the white noise or wakes up too frequently during sleep, it can indicate that the white noise is disturbing your child’s sleep.

Dear Parents, sleep is very much essential for your child’s physical and emotional growth. If the typical sleeping aids like lullabies, massages and warm baths don’t work, you can try using white noise to help your baby sleep. Babies also wake up frequently due to issues like hunger or wet nappies. It is important to understand the root cause of it.

White noise is harmless and does not have any side effects if it is used in the right manner. It is definitely a recommended alternative to help your little one to fall asleep soon and stay asleep longer.

7 Benefits Of Vibrations For Your Baby’s Sleep

As a parent, the first and foremost thing you would wish for is that your baby is comfortable and non-fussy. You may never want your baby to be upset or cranky.

However, there are many times that your baby is going to be fussy or cranky for many reasons like discomfort, colic, stress etc. As a parent, you can easily make out if your baby is cranky because of hunger or sleep or any discomfort. However, it becomes very difficult when you are unable to identify the reason why your baby is crying. Sometimes babies cry due to colic or to release stress or if they just feel like crying. In such situations, you should be patient and soothe your little bundle of joy.

There are many ways to soothe a crying baby such as swaddling, rocking, massaging, singing lullabies, white noise etc. However, there is one technique which most parents are either not aware of or have not tried and that is Vibrations.

Though it may sound alarming to many parents, vibrations are one of the most effective and harmless ways to soothe your baby.

 

What’s it about vibrations that soothe babies?

Vibrations are not new or alien to your baby. In the womb, your baby would have experienced enough vibrations and noises from rushing of blood to the placenta, mom’s heartbeat, regular movements of the mother etc. Your baby in your womb will experience what you are doing or going through. The regular activities of the mother such as walking, talking etc., sends gentle vibrations to your unborn baby.

Also, if you observe carefully, you will notice that fussy babies will calm down fast if you tap rhythmically on their backs or sing a song/lullaby with rhythm. Infants find rocking, rhythmic motion soothing and feel comfortable. Don’t we all do these things to our baby to make them settle down, relax and sleep?

Vibrations are nothing but repetitive motions set to a rhythm. For example, you might have observed that babies fall asleep quickly when you take them for a drive in your car. Many parents use this technique to put fussy babies to sleep. Vibrations would, in fact, remind your baby of all the gentle vibrations it experienced in the womb. The gentle rhythm of vibrations, your baby will relax faster and fall asleep sooner, giving you enough time to relax yourself.

 

How to use vibrations for your baby?

You can use baby products which have vibrating features such as vibrating mats, rockers/bassinets with vibrators, or soft toys with vibrators. The mats and the rockers/bassinets are usually equipped with adjustable vibration frequency. You can use low vibrations or higher ones according to the comfort of your child. Most of these products come with automatic shut-off function, which helps you to stop the vibrations after a set time.

Read More: What is White Noise and how it helps your baby sleep?

 

Do vibrations harm your baby?

A little vibration is not going to harm your child. Vibrations are only repetitive and rhythmic motions which calm and relax your baby. It is very similar to the gentle, rhythmic tapping you would do to put your baby to sleep. It just simulates a few conditions similar to that in the mother’s womb.

 

Precautions to take while using vibrating products
  1. If you plan to use vibrations in bassinets or rockers, ensure that you keep them on flat surfaces always. A vibrating seat has the chance of tipping over on an uneven floor and injuring the child.
  2. Vibrating mats are a smart choice as your baby can lie on the back, relax and gently check into deep sleep.
  3. You can switch off the vibrations as soon as your baby has fallen into deep sleep. Look for products with automatic shut-off modes for peace of mind. No need to use vibrations throughout the night.

 

Final Words

Dear Parents, vibrations are an effective and harmless way to soothe your baby. Babies will find it very comforting and soothing as they simulate some of the conditions in the womb.

You can use vibrations in either mats or bassinets or rockers or soft toys according to your baby’s liking. So Dear Parents, you can definitely use vibrations to help your child relax and fall asleep faster. And vibrations also add over an hour of sleep for your baby and you, which is great! Isn’t it?