Why Sleep Is So Important For A Childs Development

Is sleep important for baby’s development?

I know we all want a good night’s sleep and we of course want that for our own children. When it comes to getting our little one’s to sleep, it can be such a struggle. Starting from even before your little one is born, sleep is so unbelievably important for growth and development.

While you are pregnant, your baby is growing rapidly inside your womb (obviously) but did you know that most of those 9 months, your baby is sleeping!?!

Even after your baby is born, they sleep…and they sleep A LOT! A well-rested baby is a happy baby. They want to sleep, they just need to learn how to sleep!

Learning how to sleep does not just happen, we as their parents need to help teach them how to connect those sleep cycles. Once your baby can connect their sleep cycles, you will see longer consolidated naps and overnight sleep (and you’ll get your sleep back too!)

There can be a lot of controversy over sleep training your baby because many people associate sleep training with Crying It Out, but sleep training is simply teaching your little one to sleep independently. Co-sleeping and contact naps are absolutely wonderful if they work for you, but for many moms it just isn’t sustainable. You may have multiples at home, be a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) and also work from home and just simply cannot sit on the couch while your little one naps on you for hours. Independent sleep, however you choose to do it, is highly important for your baby’s development.

First, let’s talk sleep; what happens during sleep, the benefits of sleep and what can happen with a lack of sleep.

What happens during sleep?

Newborns, infants and young children are rapidly growing (as we all know because it truly does go by so so fast), but did you know that most of their growth happens while they sleep? They are storing all those wonderful memories you are making with them, they are developing essential brain tissue, synapses are forming (synapses are the pathway for information to travel through the brain), connections are establishing between the left and right brain and, the most obvious, they are recharging their bodies. So when they say the more you sleep, the more you grow, it is true!

What are the benefits of sleep?

There are SO many benefits to really good sleep and when we get a good night’s sleep, we thrive and the same goes for our little one. With consistent healthy sleep habits we improve our learning. Remember when we talked about making those memories and storing them? Well the same goes for what we learned during our day! We take all that we have learned and store that in our brains, but without healthy sleep, it is much harder to reinforce that new learning into our long term memory.

As we all know, a well-rested baby is a happy baby right?! I’m not going to lie, the same goes for me! The more well-rested our little one’s are, the more pleasant it is to be around them. With healthy sleep habits, our children tend to have a more easy-going temperament, more patient, less fussy…all the things that make motherhood just a bit easier.

As you can see the importance of sleep, now the question is…HOW do I get my baby to sleep?!

If you are a mom with a newborn (0-12 weeks old), there are some great ways to help soothe your baby and help establish healthy sleep habits very early on.

  1. Follow an eat, play, sleep schedule. This will help build a routine and predictability to your day and your babys!
  2. Fill up your baby’s belly! Offer full feedings throughout the day and offer them every 2-3 hours.
  3. Practice laying your baby down in their bassinet or crib for one or two naps a day (yes you can still contact nap and snuggle up that little newborn for the other naps!)
  4. Recreate their comfy cozy home they lived in for 9 months. Some ways you can do this is to swaddle them up! You may think they are resisting the swaddle or they do not like it but they actually do! Also, when they were in your womb, it was loud so you can use a sound machine to help them feel more comfortable.
  5. Use the 5 S’s! When they are fussy or getting ready for sleep, you should always follow these 5 steps to help soothe them. First, swaddle them. Second, hold them in a side position. Then, start shushing. This sound truly starts to calm them down as that is what they heard for 9 straight months in your womb. Then, begin swinging. They love movement! Finally, add non-nutritive sucking, which can be a pacifier. Sucking on a pacifier is the icing on the cake to soothe a fussy baby.

When you have infants 3-4 months or older, it is a great time to start sleep training.

There are so many sleep training methods to choose from and I truly believe that you must teach your child to sleep in a way that you feel most comfortable doing so. We already have enough mom guilt, teaching your child to sleep should not be one of them. Whether you choose a very gentle hands-on method or a more hands off method, as a certified pediatric sleep consultant, I cannot stress this enough…be consistent and firm with your boundaries.

You do not have to sleep train alone. If you ever feel as if you’d like a very individualized sleep plan with one-on-one coaching, book your discovery call below!

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