Sleep regenerates the entire body and experiences are processed. Healthy sleep is therefore essential and particularly important in the first few months.
Sleeping is healthy and essential for child development.
Just imagine what it must be like to be a baby. When everything in your world is totally new and unknown. Colours, sounds, smells, taste, touch, warm, cold, up, down. How on earth do you make sense of it all? It’s exhausting! No wonder the smallest babies need the most sleep – up to 18 hours, every day. They need every minute to give their little brains and bodies the time to deal with their day and to develop.
So sleeping is absolutely essential for your child’s health. It’s particularly important for brain development, especially in the first year. The two most important types of sleep are active sleep (REM sleep or dream sleep in adults) and calm sleep (deep sleep).
Babies can switch rapidly between the two. During active sleep, babies process all the new stuff, everything they’ve learned during the day. They might twitch or smile and make faces or noises. In deep sleep, they’re processing memories and are extremely peaceful and relaxed.
Baby's sleeping behaviour
Since every child is different, each baby’s sleeping behaviour will also be very different. And it alters as they grow older. Newborns (especially in the first 3 months) sleep 16 to 18 hours. The sleep cycle then gradually changes over the first 3 to 6 months to mainly night-time sleep, as feeding times get further apart. And is there a parent on the planet who hasn’t celebrated that first all-the-way-through-the-night sleep!
A relaxed baby is a happy baby and don’t we know it!
Why a good sleep is so important for babies
Sleep is not just healthy and good, it’s also a major factor in your child's cognitive, social, and physical development. It’s been proved that when children sleep after learning something new, they’re much better at remembering what they’ve just learned. That goes for learned behaviour, too, such as being able to deal with feelings and perceptions.
A relaxed baby is a happy baby and don’t we know it! Rested children and babies who sleep well usually have a calmer temperament. Calm, deep sleep is also particularly important for your newborn's immune system to develop fully.
How to get your baby to sleep
There are lots of things you can do to help them get to sleep. Baths at bedtime, low lighting, peace and quiet. It’s also important that they learn to fall asleep on their own, so that if they wake up mid-snooze and you’re not there, they’re relaxed enough to simply go back to sleep. A sleeping aid like a well-designed swinging hammock can be great for this, doing the rocking and cuddling for you.
And let’s not forget why your baby’s sleep is important to you. Their zee time is your me time. It’s when you can read a book, meet a friend, do the ironing, plant a tree. Catch up with life!