MH finds out from the experts just why sleep is important for your baby and how many hours is necessary.
WORDS CHERYLENE RENÉE
The crib is set up with the bumper pads in place, her pyjamas are stacked neatly in the wardrobe and the nursery is all set up, ready for its newest and littlest guest. But chances are that the crib that was lovingly assembled in anticipation of her arrival will soon be traded in for a queen sized bed and sleeping companions.
Ask any new mum how motherhood has been treating her and the reply will most likely be, “I need sleep!” Like many mums before them, coping with the lack of sleep that comes along with having a newborn at home is common and that joy and initial excitement can dissipate quickly and before you know it, your baby is awake for yet another crying fit. But have you ever wondered just how important sleep is for your baby?
The Importance of Good Sleep
Dr Pradeep Raut, a consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at Kinder Clinic explains that sleep is a primary and restorative function of the brain. “In the womb, babies sleep most of the time and are awake for some time especially at night. During the state of deep sleep (non-rapid eye movement/NREM) there is tissue repair and regeneration, restoration of energy balance, and major hormones also follow the circadian rhythm (or the relationship to our sleep and awake cycle).”
Healthy sleep is also crucial for your baby’s growth and development. Studies have shown that the lack of or bad sleeping habits can also have adverse results in the long run. “Poor sleep during infancy has been linked to many health consequences including obesity and adverse effects on their cognitive, psychomotor, physical and socioemotional development. It can also affect the emotional health and sleep of their caregivers. ‘Poor sleepers’ during infancy have also been shown to be more likely to continue as ‘poor sleepers’ in the later stages of childhood,” says Dr Petrina Wong, a consultant at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s Department of Paediatrics.
Clocking the Hours
The number of hours of sleep that your child requires per day will gradually decrease as she ages.